A Match.com for co-parenting?: Oh Heavens to Betsy

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So I wrote a post for BabyCenter today about this newish website called “Modamily” (Modern Family… Get it?) And I just haven’t been able to get the topic off my mind since I first read the ABC News headline.

Long story short, thousands of people are using the website to find compatible co-parents.—People to have babies and raise kids with. Essentially it’s skipping straight to the divorce which—Let’s face it—Half of Americans do. On one hand I’m like “that’s kinda jacked up” and on the other hand I’m like “Hmm, maybe they’re on to something” but mostly the previous. Here’s a preview so you can see what it’s all about in their own words.

So after watching this and finding the strength to pick up my jaw off the floor, I decided I’ve got questions for these people looking for co-parent baby-mamas and daddies.

First off, why would you prefer this to getting a sperm donor or adopting? I’m assuming it’s for some kind of companionship.

Next, if co-parenting is the appeal, and there’s absolutely no desire for romance (one woman in the article has a 6-year-old daughter with her housemate—A 67-year-old man) then what happens if or when you do actually find someone for you? Will you all share home together, or will the co-parents sorta “break up” but still have visitation with their child?

And what do you do when you have several co-parenting partners? How does that work out?

This topic has been partly fascinating and partly bothersome for me and I’m really trying to pin down why it’s bothering me.

I was raised to believe that you get married then have kids. That lesson was DRILLED into my head… Constantly. Partly religiously, but when I really think about it, it was mainly an “I want better for you than I had” kind of mentality, for my parents who didn’t initially have kids together in a traditional sense.

Now without going all Rush Limbaugh on you (sorry, can’t stand the guy), and taking my religious views out of it, I do appreciate, and think there’s something to be said about the “nuclear family.” And I don’t mean that in a white, middle class, one man and woman sense, but rather in a married two parents kind of way. It’s gotta be pretty healthy for a kid to have parents who love each other and take care of him/her right?

But then the compassionate angel (or devil) on my other shoulder is saying there are many instances where parents are better parents when they’re not forcing an unhealthy relationship. In other words—It could be worse.

And what if I didn’t meet my husband when I did, and I was a single lady who went on to have an awesome life but still wanted some awesome kids of my own? Is adoption my only option? Would finding someone who also wants to be a good parent to help me out be a bad thing?

Or maybe a better way to think about it is from the standpoint of how the child will end up. Being brought into the world with two married and in-love parents rocks, but two parents don’t always work out (half the time they don’t) and they’re sorta left with one and another every other weekend (or summers). Could people starting out like “hey, we just wanna love this kid?” be better? Or is it being selfish? Is this still just too new of an idea to understand or even possibly guess what the outcome for the child could be?

So many questions.

My interracial nuclear family

I waited up for my husband to get home from work anxious to hear his thoughts. I had him watch their little explanation video and asked him what he thought.

“I don’t know what to think,” he said. My point exactly. So I guess at least we are together in our confusion. I think if we were both still single 10 years from now, and looking for a co-parent partner we’d hook up. But I’m glad we found each other early so I could have my interracial nuclear family. I just wonder how much longer this will be the norm. 50 years ago my family looked completely unusual (even illegal) to a lot of people. Today, I’d say it’s normal.

So am I just freaking out because it’s new and it seems unusual and wrong to me? Or is there really something wrong with this picture?

I got questions.

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  1. This is a bit extreme but the dynamics of what a family should look like is evolving like crazy as time goes on. Like you mentioned the traditional unions (marriage) are ending up in divorce half of the time. Not exactly the best odds. I think we’d all agree that most marriages are motivated by people who are in love. I think these untraditional unions are probably more deliberate and thoughtful than a union driven by two people in love? There is a ultimate goal in mind and two people making a choice to be together that is not driven necessarily by emotion. The older I get I am becoming more mindful in my approach to things and containing my emotional responses which, I don’t know about you, gets me in trouble most times. But I would be interested in seeing a decade from now what the rate of divorce (break ups) will be with these untraditional family set ups. I would predict these unions might have some longevity, at least as much as your traditional unions. Interesting concept.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts! I’m with you on trying to contain my personal beliefs and keeping an open mind on things. Don’t wanna shoot my mouth off! Haha. You have very valid questions as well!

  2. I have never heard of this and definitely want to get my husband’s take too – he always has such interesting perspectives on things like this! I agree with the issues you raised especially what happens if/when you find someone you actually to do want to be with permanently but then there’s a 3rd wheel. That would get very complicated. Also, the psychological implications have having this sometimes there/sometimes not parent and explaining it to the child as they got older would be very murky. This whole concept leaves me with a headache!

  3. These families already exist. Many have done this instead of the sperm bank because they do want two parents for their child/ren. They want a relationship with the other parent, they still want their children to benefit from that make-up.
    I think if at the end of the day the parents are working hard to make their child feel loved? And cared for? Then honestly more power to them.

    My children are not part of a traditional family. I was not married to my partner until after I was pregnant with my third child. I had no intentions to ever marry, my ideal was co-parenting with him or with him and others. Things changes, my feelings changed so our relationship became more traditional. This happens more often than not with many co-parenting relationships.

    Co-parents who go on to meet their own partners do things the same way divorced parents do or parents who never married do. Or even do things as larger polyamorous families do–you all parent together. You work out visitation, parenting styles, money stuff–just like everyone else. The children are loved and they know it. Dealing with the outside world becomes easier when you know at home you are always protected. Children have a much easier time navigating these relationships than adults do. Studies have shown that the reason children of divorce are psychologically impacted in a negative way has to do with how the parents handle the situation. Those parents who co-parent together post divorce have children who feel secure, not abandoned. As with any parenting situation if the parents are focusing on the care of the child? And recognize the struggles and difficulties then it can be successful.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience! Wow I didn’t know that you had no intentions to marry at first. Very cool that you all grew closer together as you did. What made you think you wanted children with no love partner from the beginning?

  4. It’s a very interesting concept. A lot of women are waiting much later to have kids, putting their careers first, which may not give them much time to find Mr. Right and start a family. This would give people another option, especially if they want to have a break once in a while, share parenting duties and the financial burden.

    The main problem I see is that sometimes your views on parenting change completely once you actually HAVE children and face the realities of parenthood. There’s also the problem if someone eventually has to move. This is a risk with divorcees as well, but in this case it would be a concern right off the bat.

  5. I get the appeal, but this is terrifying. Children who live with a single parent that has a live-in partner are TWENTY TIMES more likely to be victims of child sexual abuse than children living with both biological parents. (while that statistic typically relates to the boyfriend/stepmom etc, the above situation works pretty similarly for the child.) I can see where this is coming from and I can even see how it might work out in some cases, but it just makes me so sad that people are working on alternative solutions instead of working towards fixing the one solution that DOES. Ugh

    1. Wow that is an alarming statistic. So true. When there are so many extra unrelated people in a child’s life I could see how they’d be more at risk for possible harm. Hopefully these scenarios won’t prove to be the same.

  6. I have somewhat of a relationship like this with my ex, my daughter’s father, though we didn’t intentionally come together for the sole purpose of having a child.

    Our relationship as a couple didn’t work out as planned, but we (the ex, my daughter, and I) do things together quite frequently. We went to Disney World recently and even spent Thanksgiving together.

    Unconventional? Yes, but somehow it just works better this way. I don’t know what will happen when he and I each meet our respective future partners, but right now we all enjoy time together as a family, especially my daughter. If it ever becomes weird or confusing for our daughter than we will have to re-assess the situation, but I don’t really mind others finding it puzzling.

  7. I think this is far fetched and wrong. Many people who are separated and/or divorced with children did not enter the relationship just to have kids and go their separate ways and from my new experience spend a lot of energy explaining the situation to their children and many times the conversation sounds like ” This is not the norm. Mommy and Daddy love you but could not make their love last” WHO voluntarily wants to have this conversation with the children and with EVERYTHING else going on why screw up children’s minds of what the foundation of a family should be? Good luck to whoever gives it a try.

    1. I tend to lean toward the belief that children are (or should be) a product of love so this does go against that. But trying to be open minded, it’s hard for me to call it “wrong.” I guess only time will tell how it effects the children.

  8. I had an old boyfriend who’s parents never married. They are still together. He is one of the smartest people I’ve ever known. Him and his sister are well adjusted and educated. It’s hard to say these days what’s right and wrong, when there seem to be so many ways of doing the same thing. I feel people are trying not to repeat their own families mistakes by seeing anddoing things a little differently. With that being said it’s odd to see a fully functioning and seeming very well thought out website advertising baby making. No hastle of marriage or love almost seems like a fast food order. Or ordering something from eBay or Amazon. I’m not against untraditional families, in fact I just talked to my neighbor about her and her partners options for child birth. But I do find it odd that you can order it like a pizza it’s a little strange.

  9. I think it depends on the point of view, for single woman considering using a cryo bank there is some fear for the future, when the child start asking questions about his/her biological father. there had been cases in which offsprings are obssesed with finding a stranger that is not always glad to be found or to be part of their lifes. This way the father is not a stranger, not an alias or a number, but a real person that chooses to be in their lives and to love them. the relationship with the mom would be something more like a friendship.

    This would be a much healthier relationship than a divorced couple, always using their kids to attack each other and living in a toxic environment with resentment and harsh feelings especially if infidelity was the cause of the divorce…

    Some are just lucky enough to be born in a more traditional family, but sometimes the boyfriend gets you pregnant and leaves, with no intention of giving child support or help raising his son/daughter at all, this people of “Modamily” at least has the intention of rising a child responsibly from the beginning. there is no feeling of being used and discarded.

  10. I’m a soon to be single woman (currently going through a divorce) and at 35, have decided that I simply don’t have the time to wait for Mr. Right to come along to have a child. The only thing I’ve wanted my entire life is to be a mother. Lucky for you, things worked out relatively well. But for many of us, this isn’t the case.

    My soon-to-be ex-husband and I struggled with male factor infertility for 5 years. This is not the reason for our divorce, but let let you in on a little secret – adoption is not as easy as people think it is. Perhaps this is why so many throw it around like it’s as simple as buying a loaf of bread. Not only is it unbelievably expensive, it is highly competitive. A single woman being able to adopt is pretty much impossible.

    On the issue of co-parenting, did you consider that these people are doing it for the sake of the child. Going to a sperm back is easy, but many donors are anonymous and do not want to be contacted. Co-parenting allows a child to experience having both parents. Like Marina states, this is healthier than divorced couples who can’t stand each other. When you know you have the same goal from the get go, you have the child’s best interest at heart. This is a win for the child. You can co-parent as great friends and have a perfectly adjusted child as a result.

    I’m glad you’re not calling it ‘wrong’. I always say that unless I am in someone’s shoes, I can’t possible judge them. Who knows what you would have done if you had been in my shoes?

    The ‘traditional’ family is changing and I see nothing wrong with change as long as we’re raising happy and well-adjusted kids. Fifty years ago, the traditional family was a couple of the same race with 2 children and there were people who thought anything else was wrong.

    Today we know, and have no fear in stating, that a ‘family’ comes from love and respect. Whether a married couple decide to have a child or two compatible people decide they’d like to have a child together, this is a family.

    There is no room for judgment until you are in their shoes.

  11. Hi im currently in the process of becoming a coparent but I was doing some research and came across your website. I didn’t grow up in the traditional family. My mom was a single parent who basicly hated my dad, I didn’t find out who my biological father was untill I was 15 by accident (running into a stranger with my mom and being told this is your dad). I’m 22 and for some reason I’ve always wanted to be a mother. Maybe it’s becuase of where I grew up most of my friends had children around the ages of 16-18 but I had dreams of going to university and getting a well paid job and getting married but those things don’t seem to be happening. I have my degree but I have been unable to find the perfect man. Ive looked into adopton and as a single woman it is very hard. I considered being a sjngle mom but realsied that without goverment support that would never work. For me co parenting means my child won’t go through what I went though not knowing there dad. It means I get to share the financial and emotional times with somebody. I agree it isn’t something you should rush into but if you get to know the person well it can be a wonderful thing. I am extremely lucky that the man I hace found to coparent with is very financially secure so I would be able to focus more on raising the child/ren but we have also spoke about me furthering my education later on. Family’s come in all diffrent shapes and sizes, maybe people might think im too young to be doing this but it’s the right time for me. I think coparentng is a wonderful idea 🙂

    1. I love your comment. Thanks for sharing your experience. It helps me see why it may be appealing to you. In my opinion, you seem so young! I wonder what will happen if you meet Mr. Right in a few years. But I’m sure it will all work out great for you! Keep me posted if you can! 🙂

      1. Who I might meet in the future is also my biggest worry but when do you decide its time to stop waiting? Waiting for a good man is almost like waiting for a bus… you know as soon as you walk away from the stop one will come but at some point you have to decide it would be quicker to walk. I don’t want to get to 30 and wished I had done this at 22 and at the same time I don’t want to get to 24 and meet an amazing man and wished I had waited. I guess life is all about taking risks and hoping you took the right ones. I also think I’m young but considering my dating track record I honestly see this as my best option. I will keep you updated 🙂 xx

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