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Wanted: New Words for Old

By Peter Walker

Our language is evolving. As experiences and circumstances change, new words and terms are created to explain and/or define them.: E-mail, e-commerce, e-book.

To cater to advancing technology, human nature, political correctness and the perpetually trendy, we speak almost a different language than a generation ago.

As new words and terms, and the connotation of old ones, are popularised, so too are common words depopularised.

The terms “step-father” and “step-mother” are, in my opinion, overdue for the chopping block. They have long been titles affixed to mums’ or dads’ new “partner” (another cheesy title I just can’t get used to using).

When someone remarries, does the new partner “step in” for the non-present parent (if that is not the etymology of the “step” term, it seems to have become the understanding of it)? That might have been the perception, even the reality, in the past, but certainly no more.

If not yet universally accepted, it is surely becoming so that the new partner is not considered by either parent, child or State to be a substitute for the non-custodial parent.

For what reason then do we call them any kind of “mother” or “father”, step or otherwise? We need a new term that better defines the relationship created between a new partner and the children from a previous relationship.

Next: Childbirth: Two Sides of the Same Story

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