Do Kids Need Their Parents to Love Each Other?
Co-parenting arrangements just might be healthier and happier for the kids
Watch out — “broody” women are on the rise, or so says the Daily Mail in a story on “time-poor, cash-rich 40-something singletons” whose biological clocks are ticking. But, they don’t want a husband or even a relationship — they just want a baby, and someone to coparent the child with. So, they are turning to websites such as Modamily.com, Co-ParentMatch.com, and MyAlternativeFamily.com to connect them to men looking for the same thing.
(Of course, the “broody” men barely get the same kind of judgment as the women.)
The story is similar to the one the New York Times ran a few months ago, Making a Child, Minus the Couple. but it’s hardly a new concept: gays and lesbians have been turning to all sorts of creative ways to have biological children, including coparenting arrangements.
So, the question is just how important (or not) it is to be raised by a loving, intact family, a concept I explored when I wondered if we should license parents.
I strongly believe kids need to be raised in a loving environment, but does that mean that they must be raised by two people who love each other, too?
According to child psychologist Naeema Jiwani, who is quoted in the Daily Mail, not necessarily:
“Compared with conventional parenting where the mother and father have to constantly be ‘in love’ in front of their child, co-parenting doesn’t include the “strain” of marriage. Also, a child conceived in a co-parenting scenario has access to two loving parents, who have made a conscious effort to conceive this child and may be more financially ready.”
Her view isn’t much different than Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of Family Equality Council, who was quoted in the New York Times article:
“That level of thoughtfulness really benefits kids — these are people who have thought about how do I want to raise a child, whom do I want to raise a child with — that can only be good for children. We should all think that hard about how we are going to have our kids and what we’re going to do once they’re in the world. If everybody gave that kind of thought to having children, we’d probably have better outcomes.”
Giving thought to having children? Hard to argue with that!
So, are co-parenting arrangements that much different than a divorced couple that are co-parenting their kids? In some cases, it may be better. Most divorced couples no longer love each other, although some, like my former husband and I, are friendly. In fact, many divorced couples don’t like each other at all and fight each other, sometimes for decades. Would a co-parenting arrangement be healthier and happier for the kids than living with two high-conflict divorced co-parents? Maybe.
Would it be better than being raised by a single parent, say a choice mom or dad? Some studies indicate kids in single families fare well, too.
Would it be better than being raised by more than two people? For the Mosuo people of China, there is no such thing as marriage and children live in extended multigenerational households with their mother and her blood relatives. The Mosuo value removing sexuality and romance from the very serious responsibilities of parenting.
We all know parents in unhappy, loveless marriages that stay together for the kids, so clearly having two people who love each other isn’t essential for childrearing. Others divorce when they no longer love each other.
Originally published at omgchronicles.vickilarson.com on August 26, 2013.