Para-Kin Gifts

Deb and Para-HusbandWelcome to 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.” I realized, at that moment, that I had no standing to make decisions on his behalf. Without a “living will,” in an actual emergency, his elderly parents would have to make any decisions on their son’s behalf.

If you are like me, you are tired of calling your 55 year old partner, “your boyfriend” and I certainly am not a girlfriend at my ripe old age. So, what are we?

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

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

As family court attorneys, we know that our clients are often in situations of blended families. They are parents with stepchildren and for many step families, these words work. Others though, regardless of their love, shy away from the word “step.” Why? Although this may be without merit, our culture just can’t escape the image from the Brothers Grimm. Para-kin offers alternatives. We can speak of our Para-sons or daughters as part of us, as integral parts of our families.

So rather than  words of disconnect, lets support words of  inclusion.

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.

About Debra Chernick, Esq.

Debra L. Chernick, Esq. is the founder of and may be contacted through this website about usage of the term “para” pertaining to family relationships. She encourages families to utilize the para-kin terms  in their everyday speech in order to reflect the changing family in today’s world.

Debra is an attorney licensed in the State of Connecticut since 1982 and in the State of Rhode Island since 1983. Her active law practice frequently serves clients in the areas of family law, mediation, probate and real estate.

Principal: Law Office of Debra L. Chernick, Wakefield, RI

Past President: Washington County Bar Association, Washington County, RI
Board of Delegates: Rhode Island Bar Association
Licensed Mediator: State of Rhode Island

University of Connecticut, Juris Doctorate 1982
Brandeis University, Bachelor of Arts (cum laude) 1976


14 Responses to “Origin of Para-Kin”

  1. Jennifer Hoffman says:

    Hiya, I’m really glad I have found this information.We really need these terms for today’s family.. A good website with exciting content, this is what I need. Thank you for keeping this website. I will be visiting it. Do you do newsletters? Cant find it.

    • Para-Kin says:

      Thanks, Jennifer. I would love to do a news letter but just haven’t found the time yet between being a full time mom, p-mom, lawyer. There is very little energy after dinner! You want to help?? lol.. Thanks for writing! Deb

  2. florida medical malpractice lawyer says:

    Interesting Share, googled them and came up to this site. nice one.

  3. Monte Satterthwaite says:

    Hi, I spent incredible time going to your web page. The content was nice to read and full of meaning filled with understanding.’ve got 1 more follower now

    • Para-Kin says:

      Hi Monte.. thanks so much for the support! If you have a Para-kin in your family, tell us about them. We are soliciting personal stories as to how these words are fitting into peoples’ lives. All the best..Deb

  4. Anonymous says:

    Pingback on Origin says:
    February 3, 2011 at 9:33 pm

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

    Para-Kin says:
    February 4, 2011 at 8:55 am

    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 you are 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.


  5. Melanie says:

    Keep focusing on your blog. I love how we can all express our feelings. This is an extremely nice blog here :)

    • Para-Kin says:

      Melanie.. thanks for writing. It’s pretty cool that so many people are beginning to use the Para-kin terms to describe their family relationships. It is just one more way to identify those we love.

  6. Dave says:

    High quality info here! Keep up the great work. I love the feelings being expressed.

  7. Daniel says:

    great post, thanks for sharing

  8. Jacquie Vanclief says:

    I do agree with all the ideas you have presented in your post. They are very convincing and will definitely work. Thanks for the post.

    • Para-Kin says:

      thank Jacquie for writing. We sure hope the terms will catch on. There is a definite lack of identity for many of us. Thanks again for taking the time to comment. Deb

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