I’ve long admired women who go their own way, be that in lifestyle, education, or deciding to become a single mother by choice (SMC).  

These women are my heroes, along with women who changed the way we look at science, the arts and those others who blazed a trail in order to make the path easier for the rest of us. 

For many SMCs, the decision they took to commit to a life of single parenthood wasn’t easy: childcare is 100% their responsibility, and not only emotionally but financially, too. 

Lots of women take the SMC path because they’re either tired of waiting to meet the One or else have no interest in combining their love life with their drive to become a mother. 

Yet for others the timing is just right—and unlike generations who went before us, we have a choice

We can choose to go it alone without society blinking an eye.

However, other women who are ready to start a family but don’t want to do it solo are increasingly opting for another choice: platonic coparenting.

Platonic coparenting is when you have a child with someone you’re not romantically involved with, whom you probably don’t live with, and with whom you share all the responsibilities of childcare.

The rise of platonic coparenting

Platonic coparenting has been an established form of household setup among gay couples for a long time – but for heterosexuals, not so much.

 If we were to strip out the name though, we would discover that people have been getting together in a non-romantic way in order to have children for many many thousands of years.

The name might be new, but the idea is not. 

Over the last few years, tens of thousands of people have signed up to matchmaking sites that don’t bring together eligible singles, but rather pair up hopeful mums and dads with other like-minded would-be parents to create a baby—with no necessary expectation of romance along the way (although it does still happen!). 

The COVID lockdowns only expedited this surge, as vast swathes of the population were stymied just as they became serious about wanting to start a family. 

Governments worldwide hit pause on the dating scene—but no one could hit pause on individual peoples  biological clocks, or indeed on their deep and burgeoning desire to become a mum or dad.

According to Susan Golombok, Director of the Centre for Family Research at Cambridge and author of We Are Family, which examines children’s wellbeing in home setups that have gone beyond the traditional nuclear unit:

It was a gradual realisation that this was a new phenomenon picking up speed. 

The main question for us has always been: How does this non-romantic relationship work in the day-to-day at home, both between the parents and in relation to their child? 

Is the relationship breakdown rate higher or lower? 

Well—early findings suggest that how well parents communicate with each other and collaborate over childcare makes a big difference.

Perhaps most profoundly, Golombok even goes on to say the following:

‘It is possible that taking away romantic baggage could even make for a more stable environment. But people are judgemental about changing the course of reproduction, manufacturing a family, even when the typical way often doesn’t work out.’

Yet unlike surrogacy, which has percolated into the zeitgeist by way of such celebrities as Elton John and Kim Kardashian, platonic coparenting remains less spoken of, so far!

This is partly because the very type of person who is more likely to find platonic coparenting appealing is the same person who values their privacy, and therefore doesn’t necessarily advertise the big life choices they’re making. 

Still, you can’t put a stopper on a movement that has far-reaching long-term benefits, opines Golombok:

People still see the traditional family as the gold standard, and every other kind is measured against that. 

But the overarching finding of our research, over 40 years, is that these are well-adjusted families—sometimes better-adjusted even than traditional ones. 

These are wanted children. 

Who knows in which direction society will head next?

Time will tell, of course. 

Things that were unusual or less talked about decades ago are now not even questioned as being anything other than normal and acceptable, like being gay—and being a single mother by choice. 

Indeed, as Golombok writes in We Are Family

‘From our studies of new family forms that have emerged since the 70s—families who were considered threatening and objectionable when they first appeared—it seems likely that many of the fears about new family setups today will turn out to be unjustified, too.’

Both men and women far and wide have begun recognising that the person they have kids with may not be the person they grow old with—but that the parent of their children should still be a present and positive influence in their lives. 

Indeed, Golombok has consistently found this to be the primary motivation of those seeking professional coparenting services. And if platonic coparenting is something you’d be interested in, well—look no further. I’m the proud CEO of both the elective co-parenting agency The coParenting Agency and the online elective co-parenting company Creating Parents.