A question was raised by Deborah on the Ellen blog regarding commitment to marriage and children. This was the comment and Para-kin’s response.
Comment by Deborah:
“Step” is used by people in second marriages who don’t want to acknowledge the relationship that came before them. My non-bio parents always referred to me as their daughter, they are Mom and Dad to me. It’s the immature, self-centered adults who make the problems – second wife resents/is jealous of ex-wife and time new husband spends with his kids; first wife is jealous of happy husband and second wife and comforts herself with “I’m the real mother”". If adults would act like adults and think about the children first, we’d all be better off. Support marriage between adults who love each other and who commit to each other and raising kids together FOREVER and we can all be Mom and Dad, son and daughter. Committ, get married, teach your children to do the same. This kind of verbal game playing only gives people another “out” when marriage gets tough.Serial parapartners. What an easy “relationship” to get in and out of. Is every girlfriend I’ve ever had going to be my parawife forever? Are her kids going to be my parakids forever? Does anyone think about kids anymore? Kids don’t want or need paraparents. They need real adults who are making commitments to them, FOREVER. It doesn’t matter what they are called. parawife and parahusband sounds like someone who is not committed to the relationship. A dream term for all those commitmentphobes!
You raise some very good points that we see all the time. Jealousy and/or fear of former spouses or biological parents are very real issues for many, but they are not the issues for Para-kin. We are proponents of respect and honor of the biological parents and in no way want to interfere in the child’s relationship with mom or dad. It is wonderful that your non-biological folks raised you as their daughter. Morally and ethically you are indeed their child and you are blessed. What I might be concerned about is heaven forbid, you or your parents find yourselves in a situation where medical decisions are necessary and imminent. Without a legal bond, you might find yourself in the unenviable position of being prevented from having a say or vice versa. This is one of the guiding forces behind the Para-kin movement.
Regarding the issue of “commit and get married,” it is sometimes easier said then done. As you know there is no marriage equality in many states so certain couples, although loving and committed, are in fact barred from marriage. They may refer to themselves as domestic partners or partners but not wives/husbands. As for the more traditional couples, there are many in loving and monogamous relationships where, for a variety of reasons, marriage is impractical or not encouraged. One only has to look at the rules and regulations regarding FAFSA, social security issues or pension rights to understand that marriage is not always an option. These couples might call themselves spousal equivalents, significant others, or boyfriend and girlfriend but in reality, they all fulfill the needs of a spouse. Para-kin is providing one word for all couples and the goal is to ultimately give the legal standing to our P-spouse i.e. to provide for end of life decision making powers, medical decision making powers, rights of inheritance, retirement and the like. This does not sound like a commitment-phobe but rather people who are embracing commitment to each other and to family.
Lastly, and I think most importantly, is the issue of the children. As stated originally, the term “step” is a legal term that can only arise upon re-marriage. So what are we to call those children in these blended families being raised by two P-spouses? Without the existence of Para-kin, I have to call non-biological daughters whom I love, “my partner’s children.” There is no indication of my affection or moral obligation which I feel toward them or they feel toward me (hopefully!). I cannot be a step-mom, since we are not married, and they are not my step-children. So, who are we? What can we call ourselves?
What Para-kin does initially, is give identification to this whole group of families. It gives a word, and a word with a meaning, to our relationships. Many people are beginning to use terms such as Para-mom or Para-dad as a way to identify the love, commitment and a relationship to their Para-son or Para-daughter. In 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
A movement has begun to bring new terms into our language to reflect the changing aspects of family. Information on this concept may be found in http://www.Para-kin.com Several Internet articles on these new terms have been published and recently, the Washington Post online newspaper conducted a national poll, looking for an alternative word to Step-family. Of the three choices, the term “blended family” garnered about 50% of the vote and Para-kin received a significant showing at 43% of the vote.
I hope, Deborah, in some way, I have clarified the evolution of the Para-kin terms. It is a concept for blended families in today’s world. Given the red tape, the bureaucracy and the double standards that abound, Para-kin may be the answer for many of us. Thanks for writing that thought provoking piece and I look forward to hearing from you again.
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