Co-parenting, or raising a child with a friend
You’ve probably noticed it: there is no such thing as the “typical” British family anymore. A growing number of families are started with the aid of reproductive technologies. Some kids grow up in blended families, with a step mum, a stepdad and step-siblings. Some children have two mummies or two daddies, while others have just one parent or are even raised by their grandparents.
In addition to this, more and more children these days are being raised by parents who were not romantically involved with each other when they decided to conceive. Together, these co-parents have made and raised their child, without necessarily being in a relationship or living together. This is called co-parenting, or platonic parenting.
What is co-parenting?
Co-parents are often single women or men who decide to team up with an opposite-sex friend in order to have and raise a child. Their relationship is platonic, which means that they have no romantic feelings for each other, nor do they engage in sexual activity together.
Some people who want to become parents choose this option because they have not yet found the right partner with whom they are ready to commit, and don’t want to wait any longer before starting their family. Others simply feel that parenting with a friend is the best way to raise a child, as it avoids the ugly arguments and fights that divorced parents know all too well. A lesbian or gay couple can also pair up with another couple (gay, lesbian or straight) to have a baby.
Most co-parents agree to live separately, although they usually decide to remain as geographically close to each other as possible. Moreover, co-parenting means that they share custody of the child as well as parental rights and obligations. All the important decisions regarding their child (for example, which school to attend, medical preferences, diet etc.) are taken jointly.
Looking for a co-parent online
If you can’t find a friend or associate who is willing to become a parent with you, another solution is to look for a co-parent online. There are now a number of websites that connect aspiring parents. In addition, many single people and couples search for co-parents on social networks such as Facebook, or on sites like Reddit or Craigslist.
However, a trustworthy, responsible and like-minded person who shares your values and views on parenting can be difficult to find. It can sometimes take years before finally finding the right person. Nevertheless, some people are particularly lucky and end up meeting the ideal candidate after just a few months. Who knows what might happen?
How to have a child with a co-parent
When you are gay or lesbian and/or your co-parent is your friend, the sexual intercourse required to make a baby may understandably be out of the question. Getting pregnant with a co-parent is actually like conceiving with donor sperm. You can opt for fertility treatments such as artificial insemination which can take place either at home or in a clinic. If donor eggs are needed or the woman who is getting pregnant is experiencing fertility issues, another solution is in vitro fertilisation (IVF).
How to raise a child with a co-parent
Your child always comes first
Your child’s needs must always be your top priority, and this applies even before conception takes place! Make sure that your co-parent is prepared for parenthood before you arrange anything. They must be responsible, reliable and financially stable. Also, whether they are carrying the baby or providing their sperm, it’s vital to verify that they are healthy.
Choose the right form of custody
When choosing the right form of custody routine for your child, you must take into consideration their age and personality. Kids won’t have the same needs as a baby that they will have at 10 years old, so make sure to update their schedule accordingly. Additionally, it’s best to live as close as possible to your co-parent in order to reduce time spent in transit.
Agree on a common set of rules
A child needs consistency and stability to grow up happy and healthy. To ensure a secure and stable environment for your child, the rules should be the same in both houses (bedtime, mealtime, rewards, punishment, etc.). So, take the time to sit down with your partner and work out the details together.
Communicate regularly with your co-parent
It’s essential that both parents communicate regularly when it comes to their child’s upbringing, whether this concerns their education, birthday parties, medical appointments or hobbies. You need to know what’s happening in your child’s daily life, even when they are not in your custody.
Just like with any type of family, raising happy and healthy children is the most challenging and rewarding experience. It’s important to always take the time to discuss things with your co-parent, so that you can create the safest and most loving environment possible for your child.