Para-Kin Gifts

Welcome to My Para-Kin.  What’s this all about, you might ask? It’s about gaps in the English language.  Let me explain.

It was quite by accident that we stumbled into this word dilemma. A few years back, my partner and I went to the ER at a local hospital.  On the intake form, he was given three choices as to who had accompanied him.  His choices were “acquaintance,” “friend” or “spouse.” None of those applied and as a typical man, he checked “friend.” Months later, this sweetheart and life partner resolved some household catastrophe and I turned to him and said, “Honey… you are as wonderful as any Para-hubby could be!   It was apparent, that as a happy and committed heterogeneous couple in our fifties, he was neither a boyfriend nor a husband, and I certainly was not a girlfriend at my ripe old age.

Our language does not provide words for this type of relationship. In fact, English lacks the words for many loving connections.

When people hear “Partner” … they think business.
When people hear “Domestic Partner” … they think housecleaning.
When people hear “Same-Sex Couple”…it sounds devoid of love.
When people hear “Spousal Equivalent” … well, never mind what people think!
And when we hear “Stepmom”…our mind inevitably pictures Cinderella.

As  family court attorneys, we know that our clients are often in situations of blended families.  They have stepparents or stepchildren.  Regardless of their love, people often shy away from the word “step.” Why? There seems to be a subliminal connection between “step” and “evil”. Although this may be totally without merit, our culture just can’t escape that message from the Brothers Grimm.  Now, there are positive alternatives. We can speak of our Para-sons or daughters as part of us, as integral parts of our families.  We can look at grandma’s special friend and acknowledge that he is really has been our Para-grandpa.

So readers, rather than  words of disconnect, lets support words of  inclusion, love and Para-Kin.

If you are Para-wives or Para-husbands to each other, go tell the world.
If you are proud to be a Para-dad, a Para-son or you have that special Para-mom,  go tell the world.

This Website is for all of us, all who want and deserve to be included as family,
All who are…My Para-Kin.

Deb Chernick, Esq.


Comments

6 Responses to “Origin of Para-Kin”

  1. terms like para-kin are just too out there for me, sounding too much like a space creature or a biomarine

    • Para-Kin says:

      I have to agree with you.. a new term can be foreign and strange sounding, pretty much like Ms was in the fifties. But look at that term now.. Its ubiquitous..on every form that we encounter. So Para-kin terms like P-mom or P-dad absolutely sound out there until they break into the lingo. “Para” meaning to support, be next to, on the side of, much like a para-legal or para-medic in the professional world.

      Words are powerful tools and often times our culture attaches images to them, positive or negative. The word “stepmother” is just one of those words fraught with a negative image. If I were a betting woman, I’d be confident that your readership is as tired as I am of the negativity surrounding the word “stepmother.” But in reality we can’t avoid those indelible images of Cinderella. We can’t take an eraser and blot out hundreds of years of fairytales. So what to do?

      In my practice I come across loving moms and step-moms along with not so caring moms and step-moms. It’s an uphill battle for many step-moms on a daily basis. Would an alternative term such as Para-mom, which, by the way, I like to abbreviate P-mom, eliminate some of the battle? Maybe. It seems to me that there are enough issues surrounding the blending of families, that if we could negate at least the “evil” connotation and have children concentrate on the loving component, then at least there would be one less struggle to overcome within the family and society at large

      n essence, the terms P-mom and P-dad, along with P-son and P-daughter, embrace the image of love and caring within a family. For married parents, Para-kin provides an acceptable alternative to the use of step terms, and for unmarried parents, it’s a necessity for identification.

      We started with the image connected to words and I’ll end on this same thought. When a partner marries someone with children, there are no choices. It’s a given that one loves the new spouse, but it’s an expectation that the love should or will extend to the children of that spouse. One becomes a stepparent, for better or worse. When the stepparent runs into a brick wall communicating with the child, or is perceived as “mean” or “unloving”, the negative “step” image is the fallback position.

      Using Para-kin terms is a choice. One can choose to call himself or herself a P-mom or P-dad and choose to embrace that child as a P-son or P-daughter. Then, if difficulties arise between the new spouse and the child, the words “mean” and “evil” may not necessarily be the fall back position, because that person is not referred to as a stepparent in the first instance. The child may perceive that his new P-mom “doesn’t get it” or “is all over his or her case,” but the “evil” image may not even enter the child’s mind.

      The phrase Para-kin is devoid of negativity. It’s devoid of centuries old mythology, legend and baggage. That is its beauty. That is its gift.

      Thanks for giving me the opportunity to explain this “new fangled” term. I know that it sounds strange because it is new but the possibilities of its use are endless.

      Deb

  2. Juliane Beja says:

    Fabulous This really is one of the most informative web sites I’ve ever read on this subject.

  3. Benny Cottom says:

    interesting post, keep it up

  4. sheryl ishai says:

    Dear Deb,
    I am so incredibley proud of you for bringing this subject to light. You have really filled a void for so many people to be able to refer to their significant others and their families in loving terminology.
    As I look at your site, I am reminded at how proud of you I am-but I said that already, no?
    Love,
    Sheryl

    • Para-Kin says:

      Thanks Sheryl for your support! These terms are for all of us and I know with the work you do with families, you may find these concepts really helpful. Thanks again for writing. Deb

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