I am opposed to referring to the person(s) who looks after a child, especially full-time, but I want a generic word ideally, as parent, carer, or guardian, as I want a noun that is inclusive, one which can refer to the person(s) who is caring for a child, but who may not be their parent(s) or whatever.

Frankly, using parent, guardian, and or carer to try to be as correct as possible can be a little bit of an irritation, so is there a modern word which can be used to refer to a child who is being cared for by someone who may or may not have any legal, biological, etc., relationship to them, but is still unequivocally inclusive, so once one knows of what relationship the child is to the person(s) who is caring for them they can use the parent, carer, or guardian, etc., configurations?

According to my research, the closest words which I could fine were charge and ward, however I think using these in, for example, a letter from, say, a school or a similar institution to people who are caring for children regardless of their relationship to the child(ren) for whom they are caring sounds far, far too outdated, as families nowadays are far more diverse, thus I think we need a language which reflects that.

Any (preferably modern and (mostly) commonplace) suggestions?

  • guardian is the word.
    – Jim
    Commented Mar 9, 2020 at 1:48
  • 1
    guardian, as Jim mentioned, fits perfectly. Irritation? Not at all. Use it.
    – Centaurus
    Commented Mar 9, 2020 at 1:53
  • You mentioned a letter from a school, but wouldn't a school be writing only to a parent or legal guardian?
    – nnnnnn
    Commented Mar 9, 2020 at 2:15
  • Guardian implies a legal responsibility. How about nanny?
    – Xanne
    Commented Mar 9, 2020 at 5:24
  • @Jim As another user has said, though, Jim, doesn't the word 'guardian' denote a legal relationship? What if someone isn't legally authorized to look after someone, but they are? As I said, I was looking for a typically inclusive word. Commented Mar 9, 2020 at 11:27


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.