Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me a Platonic Match
By Jacqueline Lisbona
Photo Via modamily.com
It’s Monday at 6:00 pm and Lily is strapped into her highchair, eating mushy peas and apple puree. Michelle, her mom, receives a text from Josh:
“I’ll be there in 2 minutes. Please have her diaper bag packed and her clothes ready.”
Lily shrieks and starts throwing her food onto the floor, kicking her feet while tears are streaming down her face. Michelle wipes away the green peas from Lily’s cheeks and dresses her in her favorite bunny onesie. Josh enters the home to see Michelle in a sweat, while Lily continues her temper tantrum on the carpet. Lily immediately stops crying when she sees Josh.
Michelle plants a big kiss on Lily’s cheek, gives Josh a hug and says, “She’s fed and bathed. See you on Wednesday. Text me if you need anything.” Michelle sits down on her couch, pours herself a glass of wine and starts watching “The Bachelorette” in relative peace.
When Michelle Dickson, a pediatrician, and Josh Silver, a lawyer, landed on each other’s profiles on Modamily.com, it was a perfect match. Both candidates were close in age, Michelle 36 and Josh 40, and they shared very similar views on finance, health, and education. They also shared the same goal: to find a non-romantic partner with whom to raise a child. After chatting on Modamily and meeting several times in person, they both agreed to have a baby together and begin their co-parenting journey.
As unorthodox as Michelle and Josh’s approach to raising a family might seem, it is actually a growing trend in Canada, the US and Europe. So why has non-romantic co-parenting been catching on? And what might this innovative way of having a family reveal about our society and romantic love itself?
Non-romantic co-parenting has been in the public sphere for longer than we think. While it has probably been around for hundreds of years, the earliest reference to it (that I could find) in recent pop culture was from 2011, in Los Angeles. Modamily tapped into this growing phenomenon. The idea was simple: the platform would help match people who are ready to have kids and provide donors with a platform to help others start families.
The traditional formula to have a family is to fall in love, get married, and have children. Now, the formula has changed, opening up new and innovative ways for people to have children. There is also tremendous social pressure to find a mate and have babies before it’s “too late”. In our society, being 30 and single already puts you behind schedule.
“I founded Modamily because I was inspired to help some of my professional friends who deferred having kids until they felt more secure”, says Ivan Fatovic, CEO of Modamily. “They were starting to feel the pressure of the biological clock, still single, and looking for a partner with whom to procreate, whether they were married or not. Modamily offers a solution for anyone who's hoping to become a parent, no matter what kind of relationship they're looking for."
Founded in 2011, Modamily boasts over 12,000 users and more than 50 babies born. At approximately $30/month, Modamily is less expensive than sister sites such as Family By Design.
“When I first saw this app, I thought wow, this is so unique!” says Michelle. “There were so many different people to choose from. There were a couple of questions to fill out and then it matched me with similar people. That’s how I found Josh.”
Not everyone is so excited by this new approach to family. Elizabeth Marquardt, co-principal investigator of the national study “Hooking Up, Hanging Out, and Hoping for Mr. Right: College Women on Dating and Mating Today”, opposes co-parenting.
“It’s a terrible idea, deliberately consigning a child to be raised in two different worlds, with parents who did not even attempt to form a loving bond with one another,” she writes in an email.
On the other hand, experts such as Sarah J. Schoppe-Sullivan, Associate Professor with the Ohio State University Department of Psychology, argue that parenting partnerships can actually spare a child the future pain of divorce. She counters “certainly, from a research standpoint, I don’t think having a romantic relationship is necessary to have a good co-parenting relationship. Research shows that if parents can have a warm, cooperative, co-parenting relationship, then that’s going to be positive for the child’s development.”
Overall, Michelle is happy with her decision to co-parent. She continues to nourish her friendship with Josh and work on raising their child together. Although Lily is only 13 months old, Michelle is excited to watch her grow up and she wishes that someday, Lily will share the same privilege of wiping mushy green peas off her child’s face.