I'm a guardian, and my child is...

meijin

Senior Member
Japanese
Hi, is it natural for a guardian to call a child (who lost his/her parents) he/she looks after "my child"?
Or is there any specific term for the child, just like stepfather (as opposed to just father)?
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I think "ward" is generally used in legal language, meijin. I haven't heard many people talk about the relationship, but I assume that people also use "ward" in ordinary speech.
     

    meijin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thank you very much, owlman. I didn't know the word "ward."
    So, if you were a guardian, would you use "ward" in the following context? Or is it more natural to call him/her just "my child" although he/she isn't your real child?

    "Who do you live with?" "I live with my ward."

    If this was father/stepfather, I guess both "I live with my father" and "I live with my stepfather" would be natural. But I'm not sure about ward/child.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    There is a difference between guardians, who have wards, and adoptive parents, who would call their adopted child "my son" or "my daughter".

    In addition, you have foster parents, who might refer to their foster children.
     

    meijin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    There is a difference between guardians, who have wards, and adoptive parents, who would call their adopted child "my son" or "my daughter".

    In addition, you have foster parents, who might refer to their foster children.
    Thank you very much, GreenWhiteBlue. So, does that mean that a guardian doesn't usually (or never) call the child he/she looks after "my son" or "my daughter," and always call him/her "my ward" (or "a child I look after")?
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    "Always" is probably unreasonable, meijin. I doubt that a guardian would use "my son/daughter", but I suppose it is possible. A guardian might well use "ward" in talk with others and use the child's name when addressing that child. A guardian might use a nickname for the child... People vary in what they do, meijin, and I doubt that guardians have to follow any rules about what they call their wards.
     

    meijin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Owlman, I forgot to edit the "Always" part after changing "never" to "doesn't usually (or never)". :oops:
    And thank you very much for your insight. I fully understand. I'll avoid using "his/her son/daughter/child" when talking about a guardian.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I'll avoid using "his/her son/daughter/child" when talking about a guardian.
    This is probably a good policy, meijin. If the guardian was related to one of the child's parents, he or she might well use "This is my son/daughter." I think this sort of thing would be less likely if the guardian had no blood relationship to the child.
     

    Truffula

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    If the guardian was related to one of the child's parents, he or she might well use "This is my son/daughter." I think this sort of thing would be less likely if the guardian had no blood relationship to the child.
    I think if the guardian was related to one of the child's parents, then the guardian is related to the child, and would be likely to use their actual relationship term. "This is my niece/nephew." "This is my grandchild." They might add that they are the child's legal guardian as well.
     

    Szkot

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I think ward sounds very old-fashioned and/or legalistic; I can not imagine it being used in informal conversation. They might explain the relationship my cousin's son or use foster-daughter or child. It would depend on who you are talking to and why.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I think if the guardian was related to one of the child's parents, then the guardian is related to the child, and would be likely to use their actual relationship term. "This is my niece/nephew." "This is my grandchild." They might add that they are the child's legal guardian as well.
    That's an interesting notion, and it might be true. When I was a kid, my father chose his little brother to be my guardian in the event of my parents' death.

    I think I would have expected that uncle to call me his "son" rather than his "nephew" if I had lived in his house as he and his wife raised me. Perhaps that expectation was odd, but it doesn't seem odd to me. I imagine that I would have called him "Dad" rather than "Uncle" after the memory of my dead birth parents had aged a little.

    I'd definitely expect to hear "Dad" or "Mom" used by some kid who had been adopted.
     
    Last edited:

    meijin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    I think I would have expected that uncle to call me his "son" rather than his "nephew" if I had lived in his house as he and his wife raised me. Perhaps that expectation was odd, but it doesn't seem odd to me. I imagine that I would have called him "Dad" rather than "Uncle" after the memory of my dead birth parents had aged a little.
    I think I'm with you, owlman. What you have just said really makes sense to me. Thanks again.
     
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