In the last few years, traditional gender roles have become more of the exception and less of the rule. Many families are taking a modern approach to parenting, from reversing gender roles to fully co-parenting and every situation in between. This modern parenting approach has distributed the responsibility more equally between parents and allowed for each to spend more quality time with their kids.
Couples and families of all different backgrounds are adopting co-parenting techniques. From traditional couples and divorced partners to same-sex couples and blended families, families of all types are employing modern parenting methods. Here are some examples of how today’s modern families are managing co-parenting.
Although they might be in a traditional marriage or relationship, there’s nothing “traditional” about the way today’s couples are parenting. Rather than expecting the mother to stay at home with the kids, cook and clean, and run all of the weekly errands while the father spends long hours at work, couples are splitting responsibilities (and time with the kids) more evenly.
Marc and Amy Vachon, co-authors of the book Equally Shared Parenting: Rewriting the Rules for a Generation of Parents wanted to parent in a different way. In their book, they say, “Chances are, you’d rather not forfeit your happy, rested life the moment you become a parent. As a mom, you may want to keep your career… As a dad, you probably want to witness your child’s milestones…” They get it. They didn’t want to have to give up one thing for the other, and they don’t want other parents to have to, either.
Many couples are co-parenting, or parenting equally—splitting the household, child-care, and even work responsibilities as evenly as possible. One couple, Jon and Alice, have it down to a science. Since Jon works nights and weekends and Alice works as a school teacher during the day, Jon gets to spend the majority of the week taking care of the kids and looking after the house until Alice gets home. In the summer, Alice spends the majority of time taking care of the kids and house, and Jon can focus in on work.
For the couple, the arrangement works wonderfully and offers a great example of what harmonious co-parenting can look like.
Divorce can be rocky, messy, and downright miserable. In the throes of it, it can be difficult to imagine a time you were ever in love or will be able to speak amicably again. Some couples even struggle to work out child support and require a third-party to intervene and carry out court orders. Heather Buen, a writer for Mashable, wrote, “I divorced my daughter’s dad approximately 9 years ago and it has taken us about that long to get to a civil place of co-parenting where nobody is yelling at each other, jealous, hurt or angry. I call that years of wasted time.”
It can be hard to overcome hurt feelings and anger, but the benefits that co-parenting offers both children and parents is worth it. Susan Pease Gadoua, a licensed clinical social worker, even proposes platonic co-parenting (or a co-parenting marriage) as an alternative to divorce. Throughout her career, she has counseled numerous couples who were contemplating divorce, helped them setup parameters for a co-parenting marriage, and has helped them find a harmonious agreement that lets both parents stay involved and present without being involved in a romantic relationship with each other.
Whether they opt for a co-parenting marriage or choose to co-parent after divorce, many couples have managed to find a co-parenting balance that enables both to spend equal amounts of time with their children and share in the responsibilities.
Same-Sex Couples and Families
In cases where same-sex couples choose to find a third person to help them have biological children, the parenting situation can get tricky. If all parents want to be involved, there could be several different people trying to share responsibilities and co-parent.
Canada recently enacted a bill called the All Families Are Equal Act. The bill takes a modern approach to families by legally recognizing up to four co-parents, regardless of sexual orientation or the way the child was conceived. This means a variety of parenting possibilities are considered legally valid and better accommodate varying family situations.
In an article in Toronto Life, the lives of a number of modern families are explored and detailed, showing just how unique each family situation can be. Tracy Whitfield and Kate Wren, a lesbian couple, chose to have a child with one of their close gay friends, Adam Webster. The family of four now all cohabitate in the same home and share the child-care responsibilities.
Sarah MacDonald, Mubein “Bino” Tarahi, and their son Adaan Tarahi are another family who takes a modern approach to parenting. Sarah, a lesbian, and Bino, a gay man, met up when Sarah joined a website to find a prospective co-parent for her future child. Both Sarah and Bino wanted a baby and after a lot of discussion felt they had good chemistry. The couple now cohabitates in a home they purchased together and share child-care responsibilities.
Sarah says, “Really, we’re exactly like other families, except that Bino and I don’t have sex. We do everything that Adaan sees his friends’ parents doing.”
Today’s modern society and modern families need a different approach to parenting than traditional gender roles offered. Co-parenting is one of the best solutions for families in all situations—traditional, divorced, and same-sex. Co-parenting techniques all both or all parents to be equally involved and share the responsibilities, making life a little bit easier and happier for all.