Top Three Benefits of 'Intentional Co-Parenting' for Gay Men & Couples
Entering into intentional co-parenting arrangements with another adult or couple has many benefits, says Bill Delaney. Here are his top three.
I often joke that the best thing about co-parenting is that we can have both kids and a life. It's certainly easier to maintain a non-child-centric social life with scheduled child-free days, but that is the least of the benefits of sharing parenting responsibilities.
Concerns about cost are shared by many prospective parents, whether single or partnered. Our family lives in San Francisco, the most expensive city in the country. Each couple makes a comfortable living but toss in a couple of kids as a two-parent household and there'd be no way to remain here without significant sacrifices to our quality of life, or we'd have to leave. By splitting childcare costs we're able to stay in the city and still able to provide for our children.
More Parenting Support
We've seen struggling new parents move in order to be closer to their extended families. By co-parenting we've created a support network that the individual couples don't have. My husband I are from other parts of the country so have no local family. The moms also have very few or no local family members. Nannies and baby-sitters are fine but in addition to the added expense it's not the same as a willing relative; or in our case, another parent.
Better Work/Life Balance
Just as there is work/life balance, so should there be kids/kids-free balance. Parents benefit from frequent, guilt-free time to focus on any number of non-child related necessities, such as chores, exercise, sleep, hobbies, socializing with other adults, etc.
Now, some people might read all this and think "but raising your children shouldn't be about your personal comfort." True, but "parent" is also not synonymous with "martyr". My boss recently used the phrase "work smarter, not harder"; seems an apt slogan. A contented – and well rested - parent is a good thing.
So What Are the Drawbacks?
So what are the drawbacks to co-parenting? There aren't many. There's always compromise, whether between two parents, or three, or four. As mentioned in my co-parenting check list last time, compatible personalities are key. If temperaments are in sync, then this should be a non-issue.
Proximity could be a non-issue, a minor inconvenience, or a major hassle. In some co-parented families everyone lives in the same home, in others they live in entirely different cities or states. In our case we live a 20 minute drive from each other, or longer by bus. Not bad but certainly not as convenient as walking distance. The original plan was to buy a two unit building or homes with-in walking distance, but the housing market in San Francisco hasn't been cooperating. Of course our girls would prefer that we live together for togetherness' sake. The back-and-forth doesn't bother them much now but that's sure to change once they have to transport themselves between houses. But that's the only drawback for them so far.