Language of Love and Family in 2020

A brief look at some emerging terms and language related to families and family life.

December 16, 2020

Families are diverse, complex and perpetually evolving. It is no surprise, therefore, that the language and ideas we associate with families and family life change over time. Emerging terms and concepts can both reflect and impact modern family life, expectations, aspirations and strengths, and provide valuable insights into what families are doing, how they are feeling and what they are thinking.

Throughout 2020, we continued to observe evolution in language related to family. While words and phrases like “unprecedented,” “new normal” and “You’re on mute!” became daily utterances at home and at work, terms such as grand-family, dibling and bonus child/bonus parent appeared frequently in conversation, online and in the media, including in our articles and blog posts.


A grand-family (or grandfamily) is a family in which one or more grandparents live with and assume a primary role in raising their grandchildren, with little or no parental presence or involvement. Counted in the Census as “skip-generation families” (also sometimes called “kinship families”), the term is being used by a growing number of support organizations for grandparents who raise grandchildren.

Learn more about grand-families, grandparents and family relationships in Grand-families Highlight Family Adaptability and A Snapshot of Grandparents in Canada.


Dibling refers to one of two or more people who are connected genetically as a result of them having been conceived via reproductive technologies or fertility treatments (e.g. through donated sperm or eggs).

The term, which stems from “donor-sibling,” has become increasingly common in recent years with the increasing use of reproductive technologies and fertility treatments.

Learn more about diblings in Diblings Asking “Who Am I?” – Searching for Answers, Finding More Questions.

Bonus child/bonus parent

Bonus child and bonus parent are alternative terms used within some blended families (or stepfamilies, as they are counted in the Census) in place of stepchild and stepparent.

Learn more about blended/stepfamilies and family diversity in Portrait of Children’s Family Life in Canada in 2016 (Statistics Canada Census Analysis) and A Snapshot of Family Diversity in Canada.


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