Daily Archives: January 30, 2014


Real compared to what?

Recently, I was having a conversation with someone about my family. In describing my parents, I referred to my biological father as my “real dad,” something I picked up as a kid when I became a part of a blended family. After using the term a couple of times, the person I was talking with stopped me and casually asked me to “please use biological.”  I was caught off-guard and quickly apologized, realizing I could easily have offended them. Externally, I just kept relaying my story with the appropriate term. Internally, it stopped me dead in my tracks. I was mortified. If I could have crawled under a rock, I would have.  I felt so small and simple-minded in that moment and couldn’t believe that someone I respected quite a bit caught me in a moment of ignorance. I consider myself a fairly progressive person.  Perhaps because of my career field (student affairs), I am hyper-sensitive to issues of identity and inclusion and the  language associated with them.  So why, for nearly 30 years, had I thought that “real” was an appropriate way to describe a parent-child relationship?