What could be a more perfect service for a Role-Rebooted world than a site that helps individuals who want a child find a co-parent? This week, Role/Reboot’s Editor-in-Chief Nicole Rodgers spoke with Ivan Fatovic about his new site, which seeks to do just that.
Nicole: First of all, I love this idea. Can you give us the CliffsNotes version of what Modamily is?
Ivan: Simply put, Modamily is a community of like-minded adults who are ready to have a child. We help them find someone.
Nicole: Have you seen the film Friends With Kids yet? It seems like a Modamily advertisement (caveat: I’ve only seen the previews)! What do you think of the premise?
Ivan: Not only did I see it, I went to the premiere last week and got to speak with Jon Hamm and Jennifer Westfeldt about co-parenting. It’s been a lucky coincidence that the movie came out around the time of our launch and we’ve been doing some cross promotion around it. The movie helps familiarize America with non-traditional family structures. The ending is a very Hollywood one, but I think they handled the pros and cons of co-parenting very well.
Nicole: What was the inspiration for creating Modamily? Was there a personal element? Did you find yourself wanting a child, but without a co-parent?
Ivan: The impetus to create the site came when I saw that a lot of my friends and family who were ready to have a child didn’t have a partner. The only options they were considering were adoption, sperm donors, or settling for someone and rushing into marriage. My female friends, particularly, felt this huge pressure, usually around 40, that if they didn’t meet someone in the next year, it’s not going to happen. By the way, men don’t want to wait too long to have children either. You don’t want to be 70 years old and still have a child in school. You want to be able to enjoy the experience.
Personally, I am at an age where I think I should become parent soon. I want to enjoy the experience and I think it’s great when there isn’t a huge age gap between parent and child. I thought there had to be a way where two people who were ready to be parents can join forces and raise a child. Hence, co-parenting.
Nicole: Who is signing up for Modamily? Do have a sense yet about whether folks are using the site as a “fast-track” dating site for finding others who want to be parents soon (as opposed to more casual daters), or are most people looking to explore more non-traditional arrangements that do not involve any expectation of intimacy or a romantic partnership?
Ivan: The women are usually around 35-45 and the men trend a little older, 40-55. It’s about 50/50 men and woman, both gay and straight. Our site encompasses the full gamut of the modern family scenarios. There are traditionally married couples who are having trouble conceiving looking for a third partner to be involved, there are lesbian and gay couples looking for another couple or a third person, but mostly it is single professional men and woman, in big cities and the suburbs.
It seems people are on for different reasons—some members want to move quickly and find a co-parent whereas others are still holding out to find a traditional partner who is ready to have a child but they are open to an alternate arrangement. Similarly, some have revealed intimate details about themselves in their profiles and others are only curious and dabbling. Since the site is so new and the concept relatively foreign in the United States, I think in time people will understand what we’re about and realize that everyone on here is an aspiring parent and open to finding an arrangement where that dream can come to fruition and be beneficial to the child.
Nicole: You say the concept of co-parenting is foreign in the United States—where is it more common? Where do you think the best models for co-parenting exist?
Ivan: It’s more common in Europe, particularly the U.K. and France. It’s becoming more prevalent in the Scandanavian countries as well. I think those countries have more institutional support with their health care systems and they are particularly well off countries where people stay single longer and wait to have children and don’t need to get married. There are so many different incarnations of the modern family that work. I think some of the best models for co-parenting exist in the gay and lesbian community and it’s just starting to spill over into the mainstream.
Nicole: It seems to me that part of the challenge of making co-parenting a more common, acceptable choice is overcoming stigma. Our culture, after all, privileges romantic intimacy over other kinds of arrangements. Do you think that’s changing? How do we get people to see co-parenting relationships as equally valid and deserving of respect in our culture?
Ivan: It’s a slow process, but I do think it’s changing. There’s a Pew Research study that says Generation Y finds it more important to find the right parent for their child, than a romantic partner for themselves. I think there is still a huge stigma that has to be overcome and things like the movie and other media are helping put it into the cultural zeitgeist. Part of what Modamily is doing is starting a national conversation on why co-parenting should be seen as a viable option, and in time, when there are more real life success stories in mainstream America, it will be considered an equally valid option.
Nicole: Our culture tends to assume marriages (and other presumably romantic partnerships) provide a “stable” environment for raising kids. But is there any reason to believe that platonic, non-romantic co-parents would be any less stable? Might they be more stable?
Ivan: A traditional family is a fine way to raise a child and Modamily doe not dispute that. However, the facts are that 50% of marriages end in divorce and most children born in the world are out of wedlock. When a couple divorces, there is often tension and animosity while they figure out the best arrangement and the child is caught in the middle of this. The whole point of non-romantic co-parenting is that the arrangement is discussed beforehand and both people are ready and looking to be parents. Of course, like any relationship, there will be disagreements down the road, but we feel like if we start with a solid understanding and foundation these things can be worked out amicably.
Nicole Rodgers is the Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Role/Reboot.