Let’s face it … The definition of family in today’s world is changing.
First marriages fail at a rate of 50% and remarriages fail at a rate of greater than 65%. There are couples and domestic partners who, for many reasons, can’t or choose not to marry but are a real family. We introduce these mates as our boyfriends/girlfriends, life/domestic partners, spousal equivalents, our significant others, our better half and so on. But in reality we are spouses that have not walked down the aisle. We are … Para-spouses ( P-spouse, as we affectionately use!)
Just as a para-legal or para-medic provides support in the professional areas of life, a Para-spouse lovingly and willingly accepts the responsibilities, obligations, commitments to a partner/child. We need these words to help identify these loving relationships as a family.
If our P-wife or P-husband is helping to raise our children, what words do we have to identify that relationship? While our P-spouse cannot legally be known as a step-parent without a marriage, couldn’t our partner be a P-mom® or P-dad® to our sons and daughters?
Parents and children, biological, step and half, live under one roof. Do all children feel part of the “real” family? Could using the term P-son or P-daughter help cement the relationship? Could a step-mom who is uncomfortable with the “Cinderella” connotation choose the alternative phrase P-mom®? The answer to all these questions is YES but English has few positive words to describe these new inter-family relationships. Para-kin terms are the answer.