40

What is the term for this, if there is such a term?

For example, if you're a parent, you refer to your offspring as a 'child' and the child refers to you as their 'parent'.

I am asking because I need to have a term for the relationship of a guardian to the child. For a child, they can refer to this person as their 'guardian' but the other way around (guardian to child) doesn't seem to have a term.

What should I call it?

  • 1
    @MattBackslash No. The institution of godparents is a purely religious one, though it may have bearing on legal guardianship, or be used as a way for parents to designate who they desire to take legal guardianship in the event of their deaths. – HopelessN00b Sep 19 '16 at 13:42
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    The correct answer to this question would depend on the nature of the guardianship (ie is it a formal or informal arrangement? is it legally binding? etc), and also the country in which the arrangement has been made, because terms like "foster parent" have different legal meanings in different countries. – Simba Sep 19 '16 at 14:05
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    @HopelessN00b depends on the society. The French term for godfather is "parrain" (religious or civil) (translate as "sponsor"), and the notion of civil sponsor exists, though it does not come with rights or obligations. – njzk2 Sep 19 '16 at 17:30
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    Has the guardian legally adopted the child? If they have, then 'son', 'daughter', 'child' would be fine. You'd just be omitting the "adopted" for brevity. – DCShannon Sep 19 '16 at 20:49
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    Dave points out the legal word is ward; foster child, although less precise, is probably more frequently used. – Malvolio Sep 20 '16 at 20:40
155

I believe the usual term is 'ward'.

In law, a ward is someone placed under the protection of a legal guardian. - Wikipedia

  • 3
    I agree with this answer, but a formal definition and an example sentence from literature/elsewhere would make it better. – Roddy of the Frozen Peas Sep 19 '16 at 7:56
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    "Ward" is a bit archaic and would be difficult to pass off among the ranks of Joe Public but it is historically correct and still remains legal terminology as in Ward of Court. (UK). – Peter Point Sep 19 '16 at 8:01
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    @WS2 Look a little further down: II A person who is ‘in ward’ (see 2.) 6. a. A minor under the control of a guardian. This term shows up all over regency romance ;-). In non-legal modern language, the term I most often hear is just kid (I'm in the US). – 1006a Sep 19 '16 at 9:33
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    As a relatively contemporary example we can actually turn to the Batman-movie of 1966: "On a peaceful afternoon motor ride, millionaire Bruce Wayne and his youthful ward Dick Grayson have been summoned back to Wayne Manor[...]" – Layna Sep 19 '16 at 11:56
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    @Layna and Dick/Robin was even played by Burt Ward ! – dave_thompson_085 Sep 19 '16 at 21:02
52

The old-fashioned word was charge - i.e. my charge has now come of age.

From OED sense 14.

a. A thing or person entrusted to the care or management of any one. spec. The people or district committed to the care of a minister of religion.

1609 Shakespeare Troilus & Cressida v. ii. 7 Dio. How now my charge. Cres. Now my sweet gardian.

Edit. Having submitted this answer earlier, I am now persuaded that ward is the better word and have up-voted @Kate Bunting's answer.

I no longer think foster son/daughter is correct, since, in the UK anyway, a foster-parent is not the same thing as a guardian. Though one must have regard to the OP's question which refers to guardian/custodian. A foster-parent is more of the nature of a custodian, with day to day control of the child's welfare, but usually under the supervision of a Local Authority, who hold the care order from the Court. It is the Authority who have legal guardianship.

  • 3
    When I was a foster parent, we frequently used foster daughter – and sometimes just daughter. Sometimes a more familial term seems apt for the situation. – J.R. Sep 19 '16 at 7:56
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    @J.R. The only thing I am slightly unsure about is whether foster parent and guardian are synonymous. We, too, have been foster parents. But we never had the legal authority I associate with a guardian. Our foster-child's "guardian" was the Local Authority who had been granted a care order by the Court. Whilst day to day matters were under our control (e.g. signing permission notes for teachers etc.) Anything serious such as a passport application, and permission to take the child out of the country on holiday, had to be authorised by the LA's Social Services Department. – WS2 Sep 19 '16 at 11:40
  • @J.R. The Oxford online dictionary has this definition (no 3) of ward. According to this the definition of ward meaning a child or young person is current but the definition meaning the condition of being in the care of a guardian is archaic. The meaning of ward as a protected person goes back at least to the mid 19th century since three characters in Bleak House are referred to as wards of John Jarndice. – BoldBen Sep 19 '16 at 12:22
  • @BoldBen I am not sure why you say "the condition of being in the care of a guardian" is archaic. In the UK, a minor child who does not have parents, or who is the subject of a care-order of a court, must have a legal guardian. – WS2 Sep 19 '16 at 12:29
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    I wasn't saying that the condition is archaic, it obviously isn't. I was just pointing out that the dictionary entry I linked to described the word 'ward' in the sense of 'in the ward of' (definition 3.1 following my link) is archaic. At the time there seemed to be some doubt being expressed as to whether 'ward' could refer to a child which it definitely can. – BoldBen Sep 20 '16 at 12:41
2

The legal terms is "ward".

Young Dick Grayson was Bruce Wayne's Ward on the Batman series.

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    Yeah, the intro to the old Batman TV show is the only place I have heard that used, except in the expression "a ward of the court". But the answer is technically correct (famously, the best kind of correct). – Malvolio Sep 20 '16 at 20:38
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    Hi Dave. Welcome to ELU. You may note that the answer "ward" was already given by Kate Bunting, and that she also links to a dictionary (well, Wikipedia) which she quotes in support of her answer. Providing external references is encouraged on ELU. Posting duplicate answers (unless there are problems with the other one and/or you are providing significant new information and/or the postings were more or less simultaneous) isn't encouraged. – AndyT Sep 21 '16 at 14:36
-4

In the U.S. the child would be a foster child, as pointed out in a comment by @J.R. (If you put it in an answer I'll delete mine.)

  • 1
    You might also use the community wiki function to answer with information others provided in a comment. Like here – Helmar Sep 19 '16 at 10:03
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    Someone can be appointed guardian over a child without the child actually being a foster child. – Kenneth K. Sep 19 '16 at 10:06
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    "Dependant" is a word thrown about a lot in official documentation, which would be well understood on the street as a consequence, even if it still sounds a little formal. – Lightness Races with Monica Sep 19 '16 at 10:29
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    A foster child is not the same as a ward per se. (A foster child may still become a ward of court in circumstances when the child is being treated badly by his/her foster parents). A ward of court is a legal expression when the guardianship or parental control of a child is legally removed by an application to the court. The child thus removed from his/her parents becomes a Ward of Court. A foster child should not to be confused with a child who is adopted. – Peter Point Sep 19 '16 at 11:28
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    @PeterPoint The procedure sounds very much the same as ours, except that nowadays we do not normally use the term Ward of Court (though legally it may still be used). In instances where a child is in danger at home, a Social Services Department (of a Local Government Authority) will apply to a court for a Care Order. If granted the LGA will have guardianship of the child, who either enters a children's home, or is fostered with a family. Initially Social Services usual explore the possibility of placing the child within the extended family e.g with grandparents. – WS2 Sep 19 '16 at 16:30
-12

protégé may apply.

a person who is guided and supported by an older and more experienced or influential person.
"he was an aide and protégé of the former Tennessee senator"

The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English via encyclopedia.com

  • 4
    No, this does not at all imply that you have a legal guardianship relationship to the child. If you disagree, please provide evidence of it being used to refer to that kind of relationship. – curiousdannii Sep 20 '16 at 13:45
  • the question does not specify a legal relationship, just "a term for the relationship of a guardian to the child" – wererertjh Sep 20 '16 at 14:21
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    "Guardian" is a legal term. Protege is just completely the wrong term. – curiousdannii Sep 20 '16 at 14:23
  • no you're incorrect – wererertjh Sep 20 '16 at 14:24
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    'No you're incorrect' is not an argument or example. 'Protege' is not the correct term here. – user207421 Sep 21 '16 at 0:10

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