As a resident of Washington, D.C., I am no stranger to the modern lifestyle. While I am now happily married, I waited longer than most to tie the knot and spent many years putting my career before finding that special someone. Many of my friends and colleagues are still single and many openly wonder if they really want to compromise their individual lifestyle, despite the joy that marriage brings to many people. This anecdotal evidence is backed up by a new study, seen here in the Washington Post, that only 51% of couples over the age of 18 are married, and that number appears to be dropping.
In the future, will high divorce rates combined with people waiting to marry or never marry at all have potential to make the married couple a minority group in our society? On the surface, this directional shift may sound detrimental for our society. Will it lead to a decrease in population because fewer married couples will result in fewer children? Having offspring is an instinctual human behavior, and a reduction in marriage may not crush our urge to procreate.
In comes co-parenting. It's a concept where unmarried adults who decide that marriage isn't for them, or whose biological clock is winding down, decide they want to have a child, married or not. Two mature adults can decide that they want to have a child, become loving parents, and never even live together. Many of us, such as myself, are products of divorce. We remember how ugly it was when our parents were fighting under the same roof. Suppose our parents never lived together, but both took an active role in our upbringing? It doesn't sound that bad to me, and make life much simpler and easier to understand for a young child.
A start-up company has actually moved to capitalize on this concept. Modamily, a New York based firm, has developed a social network for potential parents to find a mate without the pressure of relationships or marriage. The site reminds me of Match.com, but with a completely different focus. You can even choose which method of conception you are open to (natural or artificial).
I sat down with Modamily founder, Ivan Fatovic, who happens to be an old college friend at the University of Michigan, and he thinks this is the beginning of a societal movement toward non-traditional parenting. "There are many people out there who haven't found Mr. or Mrs. Right and Modamily offers co-parenting as an empowering option for today's aspiring parent, aside from the somewhat stigmatized options of surrogacy or a sperm bank. We believe this is a viable model where a child can be raised in a loving nurturing environment." Modamily even allows members to specify the type of parenting involvement they are looking for, such as a 50/50 co-parent, limited co-parenting role, limited or full financial support, etc.
While the concept of co-parenting, or a company like Modamily, may raise a red flag and cause angst for many conservative and religious groups out there, it's simply a result of societal changes that none of us are able to control. The concept of a traditional marriage has changed over the years. In most cases, both couples must work to make ends meet, which destroyed the historic expectation that the husband would work and the wife would stay at home and take care of the children. The feminist movement combined with our changing economy opened new opportunities for women, but it also changed the way many of us view marriage.
Our society is in a state of flux, and services like Modamily may emerge as changes continue. It's a testament to our nation's ability to be flexible in times of transition, and will demonstrate that it truly does "Take a Village" to raise a child.
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