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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Co-parenting as an alternative lifestyle

In a recent e-mail from a reader our family life was referred to as an alternative lifestyle choice.

For those of you who are not aware of our situation, Toyin and I are exes who chose to live together during the first year/s of Annika's life so that I could stay at home with her. We made the choice for financial reasons.

When my reader made that comment, it got me thinking. Could this situation that Toyin and I have created become an option that might become more common in the future?

Current trends indicate that it could. At least, in my opinion. I've not seen any research to support my theory, just in case anyone is wondering.

But if you think about it, look at the way youngsters today behave in and view relationships.

When I was in my 20s, sex was way more casual than for instance, my parent's generation. One might sleep around with random partners, but it was for fun, or the result of too much partying. But casual sex aside, a relationship remained the goal.

To our parents, casual sex was typically out of the question, or so they said.

Now that casual sex seems to have become even more normalized, it begs the question, will this generation be more careful about birth control, therefore having less unplanned children?

Or will unplanned children just become used to a different standard of family. I think this generation is savvy enough to figure out that there are more choices than: A.) Getting married, B.) Being a single mom with a deadbeat dad C.) Having a weekend-only dad.

Our family works. Like I said in a previous post, some days it works really well, and some days it is a living hell. But it works as well as any marriage. Maybe better than some, not as well as others. Some people find it odd, and most people question how we do it. The most common question I get is, will it continue indefinitely?

Our current situation will not continue indefinitely. The current plan is that during the next year some time, we will not live together anymore. But we will always parent together. We haven't discussed the semantics of visitation or custody. I hope that we never have the need to talk about that stuff. When I was pregnant Toyin once started talking about going to court and drawing up custody papers.

I almost fell apart. Here my kid wasn't even born yet and battle lines were already being drawn.
I didn't blame him or get angry at him (although, it is possible I yelled, which I have a tendency to do...), I understood that those seemed like the natural options.

So I said to him, "Hey, lets see if we can work together on this and make our own decisions." I told him that I never wanted some judge to make parenting decisions for us.

He agreed pretty wholeheartedly if I remember correctly. I think he might have even been relieved.

We agreed to live together for the first year and see how things went. Annika is almost 16 months now and we are still living together. We are talking about moving into separate places, which will probably happen over the course of the next six months or maybe sooner.

Toyin has said he plans to see Annika every day. That is about all we have talked about. I plan to see her every day as well, unless she and Toyin are on a trip together.

We plan on living as close by each other as possible so that Annika can have the best of both worlds.

Ironically, I was thinking about how the religious right has been making such a fuss over gay marriage, saying that gay marriage is going to ruin marriage as an institution, then quietly, here we heteros have come along and snuck up on them with a scenario that nobody ever even thought of.

You can have kids WITHOUT getting married. HA! Take that bitches!

1 comment:

  1. My sister has lived with her boyfriend for 10 years, but they choose not to get married. She just found out she's expecting a little one. I sent her this article, because I thought of you. Your final sentence in the post - she LOVED that, she wants it on a t-shirt :-)
    -- Dawn


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