Two family glossaries

There’s a lot to sort out. This is a starting point.


Glossary # 1 – Family in the Big World


Father:

  • the man whose genes you carry
  • the man who helps take care of you every day
  • the man who is married to your mother

Husband:

  • man who is married to a woman (his wife)

Mother:

  • the woman who gave birth to you
  • the woman whose genes you carry
  • the woman who takes/took care of you every day until you can take care of yourself
  • the woman who is married to your father

Parent:

  • gender neutral term for mother or father, the person who takes care of you every day
  • useful for referring to mother and father together in the plural form

Partner:

  • business associates working in close collaboration, e.g. partners in a law practice
  • person in some form of long-term, committed relationship, either opposite- or same-sex (this term has taken hold in urban areas, liberal enclaves)
  • person with whom one has or has had sex

Real father:

  • the one whose genes you carry

Real mother:

  • the woman who carried you as a fetus in her body and gave birth to you
  • the woman whose genes you carry

Wife:

  • Woman who is married to a man (her husband)


Glossary #2 – Family in the Small World

Boyfriend:

  • the man you love, live with, and have committed to
  • an alternative to “partner,” which many find too sterile
  • the word my partner occasionally uses when referring to me; his mom also likes it, which is sweet
  • I’d use it too except it doesn’t make clear that we’re a family unit and that my partner is more than a live-in homosexual lover (note: usage of the term homosexual is ironic)

Daddy:

  • the word my son uses to refer to my partner (we introduced it to him as an infant)

Father:

  • no
  • a word so laden with heterosexual connotation that it is rarely used in the small world (we did not biologically produce our kid; we each take on behaviors that are stereotypically motherly and fatherly)

Husband:

  • no

Mama M_____:

  • the woman who gave birth to Miles
  • the woman who loves him and chose Papa and Daddy to become his parents
  • as as he grows older, our son may choose to simply call her “mommy,” but for now we wanted to find a way to flag to him that he has a mom but not in the way most kids around him have a mommy

Mother, mommy:

  • what most kids have, the woman who takes care of them every day
  • but some kids have two!
  • Papa & Daddy are both a little bit like mommies

Papa:

  • the word my son uses for me (we introduced it to him as an infant)

Parent:

  • the word I most often use when describing my relationship to Miles to other people

Partner:

  • the term I prefer for describing the guy I love
  • not laden with historical or heterosexual connotation, feels liberating in its potential for naming a more equal relationship
  • precisely because it has less historical connotation in this context, it’s also potentially sterile or lacking warmth

Two dads:

  • I know it’s confusing, but Papa is also a “dad”
  • lots of kids have a mom and a dad but some kids have one mom or one dad, other kids have two dads or two moms

Two moms:

  • Just like with Otto! Some kids have two moms (although I realize it’s confusing because he calls them Mommy & Mama)
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2 thoughts on “Two family glossaries

  1. Pingback: The difference between being a parent and being a father | Regular Midwesterners

  2. Pingback: Josh’s response: what about the other figure(s)? | Regular Midwesterners

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