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Saturday, May 27, 2006

Uncle and a half step dad?

My son Bruce and I were talking last night over coffee about how it is diffcult to come up with the proper nomenclature for various relatives we have any more. The general terms "dad", "mom", "step" and "half" don't seem to go together well with all of the arrangements.

I know it's common for some to say something like "well, that's because of the fragmentation of society!" but I don't know if that is really true or not. For instance, my father's mother died when he was born, so he was adopted by his father's brother.

This, of course, means that my dad really had two dads, one of which was "uncle dad"

Putting aside the West Virginia jokes for now (for those of you out of the country, the people of each state in the United States usually pick on some nearby state for being backwards and primitive. For those of us in Virginia, this state is West Virginia. Nobody knows who the West Virginians pick on), there has to be some kind of rhyme or reason to these names. Since my father had an "uncle dad", this means I have a "great uncle 'n dad" or something like that. This also means, of course, that I have great cousin-n-uncles.

The reason this came to this discussion was that my former wife, the mother of my son, was married for a while to a nice guy named Kenny. Kenny and Bruce, being family, like one another, so that even though he and my first wife are separated, they keep in touch. Kenny is Bruce's step-dad. But now Kenny is getting married again, which would make the woman, what? Bruce's double step mother? For Bruce's half sister, she will be his step mother. So this is his half step mother?

Are there no standards here? Some folks say the only thing that matters is blood relations, but I don't buy that. People enter into various legal arrangements, like adoption, where they care about each other and they are in all respects parents. Is there some sort of standard naming scheme for family members? Certainly with all the work we've done with programming languages, databases, and computer technology, somebody has come up with a standard family naming system, right? We've put a man on the moon, can't we come up with some system of family names?

And for those of you into gay marriage, polygamy, or animal friends, the situation gets even more complicated. If you have three mothers and each has several husbands, you're going to need something to put on those Christmas cards besides "Yo!"


At 10:58 PM, Blogger Viola said...

Nice Blog :)


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