Welcome 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.
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 Para-kin.com 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