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What term would you rather use to describe step families?

A new poll estimates that at least four in ten Americans consider themselves part of a stepfamily, but a growing number reject that label, saying it carries a stigma.

By Ryan Kellett  |  January 18, 2011; 7:16 PM ET  | Category:  National Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Oh, quit. There is nothing wrong with "step-family".

Posted by: jckdoors | January 19, 2011 3:13 PM

Total bull. Stop trying to be so PC

Posted by: Jsuf | January 19, 2011 3:55 PM

why not just "family"?? no stranger needs to know my business and my friends know who's who .....

Posted by: ounanm1 | January 19, 2011 5:49 PM

if you twitter about your new blended family, is that called a para-tweet?

Posted by: ounanm1 | January 19, 2011 5:49 PM

FAMILY plain and simple

Posted by: llemick | January 20, 2011 12:14 AM

Stepmonster and the three little pigs.

Posted by: pnwmainah1 | January 20, 2011 1:35 AM

We just use "family." Occasionally, we'll use step-brother or step-sister, but find ourselves dropping the "step-" more and more. Never heard of anyone using the term "step-family."

Posted by: rbrb1 | January 20, 2011 2:58 AM

On the rare occasion when some reference is needed, we fall back on a toast made at our engagement dinner many, many years ago: The Joining of Two Great Dynasties.

Posted by: Curmudgeon10 | January 20, 2011 3:11 AM

It faltered, sorry. Foster potential and encourage the young. Foster family?

Posted by: jobandon | January 20, 2011 4:06 AM

Brighid was promoted as Virgin's midwife and Christ's foster mother. My Irish roots go back to high treason. Had to leave the country. The other side had the boat, ended up in New York and set up bureau for Indian Affairs. Made a fortune in fur trade.

Posted by: jobandon | January 20, 2011 4:19 AM

Till I get up to the tall top-mast. To see if I can spy land?

The other side of the family were sailors and spies. We still derive a good deal of navigational intelligence. Foster more intelligence and profit from it.

Posted by: jobandon | January 20, 2011 4:41 AM

High Command has ordered me to relocate to Rum Cay. Chart is prepared. Naval intelligence says your own constitutional infidelity makes you doubters. Evidence says, navigate better. I'll soon be out of here. This economy is a shipwreck!

Posted by: jobandon | January 20, 2011 5:05 AM

Need $299,000 staying Single. Nice lot

Keep your family happy and together. Good Luck

Posted by: jobandon | January 20, 2011 5:25 AM

You can call it "Future Ex Family" because the "blended family" of two divorced self centered Baby Boomers usually ends back in divorce court yet another time.

Posted by: RedStater3 | January 20, 2011 6:55 AM

This is total horse hockey. There was no appropriate choice in the poll.

Posted by: wireman65 | January 20, 2011 7:52 AM

Changing a label because it carries a "stigma" is an exercise in futility. The "stigma" transfers to the new label; if not immediately, then eventually!

Posted by: ke11eyman | January 20, 2011 8:05 AM

What's the matter with "family"?

People today seem to think acquaintences need to know ever single solitary detail about their entire history.

We don't. If we get very close, maybe it will be relevant. Otherwise, "family" will do. Life is not Reality TV.

Posted by: NoDonkey | January 20, 2011 8:21 AM

Slow news day.

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | January 20, 2011 8:31 AM

No relevant choice? Where is the choice that says political correctness is incredibly stupid and it's practitioners are shallow people with serious mental and social issues?

Posted by: Straightline | January 20, 2011 8:58 AM

Many of you have never heard the term Para-kin so you might be interested in a concept that is beginning to take shape here in the northeast. There are so many adults living in monogamous and loving relationships with a partner, perhaps with or without children from a previous marriage. The terms we use to define our partners, be they domestic partners, significant others, life partners, spousal equivalents, our better halves, all of these words lead to one status. We are all “spouses” who have not walked down the aisle for one reason or the other. The classification as Para-spouse (P-spouse) provides one universal identity for all couples in loving, committed relationships.
"Para" meaning to support, be next to, on the side of.

Moreover, Para-kin creates and gives the greatest gift to many of us with children, and that is the gift of identity. What do I mean by that? In many situations a committed couple may be raising children from prior relationships. Both the biological parent and his or her partner love those youngsters, and yet the English language doesn’t have words to describe this relationship…between that partner, i.e., the Para-spouse and those biological children. Since the relationship of stepparent to stepchild only rises upon a marriage, what does that P-spouse call the children? The answer is really quite simple and loving: Para-son or Para-daughter. Just imagine, for a moment, walking down the street with your partner’s child. There is only one way to introduce that child…”this is so and so’s son.” But with the help of Para-kin terms, you could say instead, “let me introduce you to my “P-son.”

Regarding the stepmother inference,I am sure that many of us are tired of the negativity surrounding the word. But in reality we can’t avoid the Grimms' fairytale image. So what to do?

We all meet 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.

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. 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.

For more information, check out or facebook group Para-kin and check out the latest article by Giselle Minoli in on Para-kin

Posted by: myparakin | January 20, 2011 10:56 AM

It. Doesn't. Matter.

You still won't be a biological parent/child/etc. You will carry a legal label that defines you as such. Changing the term doesn't change the reality.

Next year the same people will be slighted by the use of the new labels. A New Negativity will be assigned. Someone somewhere will be offended, and request a change.

Just stop. This merry-go-round of selfish perception never ends. Get off and get on with life.

Posted by: trident420 | January 20, 2011 11:11 AM

Actually changing the term, can change the reality. 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.

Posted by: myparakin | January 20, 2011 11:21 AM

I don't think a name change is necessary. No matter what you call's still a huge ordeal---my sympathies to those children who forced to be a part of this arrangement.

Posted by: wc1123 | January 20, 2011 11:27 AM

It is an ordeal. Clearly the ideal situation is our notion of Ozzie and Harriet's family..but that concept of family, although lovely in theory, does not work for many couples for a variety of reasons. When asked whether a couple should divorce or not,counseling is always a preferred option, particularly if children are involved. But ultimately one needs to ask the question if it's in the best interest of the child to stay within a nuclear family which is non functioning or would the child be better off seeing both of his parents in happier, loving relationships. Remember, many times a child will learn what marriage means by watching his/her parents.

Posted by: myparakin | January 20, 2011 11:42 AM

As a foster father for many children in my younger years, I have had those kids who made it to adulthood without ever finding a permanent family, come back to me calling me "dad". Note: not foster-dad or f-dad, just plain dad! My grand daughter's "dad" skipped town for the West coast. She now calls her momy's husband "daddy", not stepdad, p-dad, or by his proper name, just plain dad! My daughters are both adopted. They call me dad. One has come to know her birth father. She calls him "Jim". My other daughter has a very loving relationship with her birth mother, and calls her "Karyn". My kids mom, my wife, passed away five years ago. She will always be "mom" to them, and i suspect there will be no other "mom", including my new wife. Face it, the name given to a family member reflects the emothional attachment the family member has to another. To me there is total pride in being my daughter's "dad" in spite of the fact that they were fathered by other men. In the case of step-relations, I think it would be healthiest to allow each person to choose the name reference of their liking, not to force some social scientist's name on them.

Posted by: schaeffz | January 20, 2011 12:44 PM

Family. Period. There is no need for more labels to further divide people.

The only people who need to describe a step family any differently from any other family are those with self image problems. And get real with the "evil" connotation about step families! No one thinks that, and whoever is trying to make that into something it's not, after two generations have grown up divorced and/or children of divorce, either needs a reality check or to look into what the motivation is for promoting an idea that is completely anti-family and cruel.

Introductions are not a problem: "this is Suzy Smith". "This is Tom Smith". If the person you're making introductions to knows you well enough they will know who Suzy or Tom is. If they don't know you well enough, why a label needed to describe what you do in bed?

If you are not married, you are not married,you are dating or living together, with a kid's parent, or you are both parents living with someone else with kids. You aren't a husband or wife or step anything. If you want to be a husband or wife or step parent, get married. But stop making up new labels. Labels do nothing but divide people, which is the antithesis of the word family. Get married when there are children involved. Children are suffering in these mixed up mishmash arrangements put together by adults, who won't marry each other. If you are living together without children, not married for whatever reason, it's either a mutual decision by a couple with a strong relationship or one of the two people doesn't want to get married and the other person is the weak one that just hangs on, hoping that the other person will marry them someday.And what about the legal meaning to the term spouse, husband and wife? Can you just make up something like that? Do I need to get a divorce if my boyfriend calls me his parawife, even though I've made it clear I'm not interested in getting married, and I break up with him? Is he going to get part of my house or custody or visitation with my kids when I've decided I don't want him around? Leave it to the northeast to come up with new labels, it sounds more like junior high in Hollywood.

Posted by: WifeMomSisterAuntDaughter | January 20, 2011 3:29 PM

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