Beyond the Modern Family


What is a normal family? A mom, dad, two kids, and a dog? Not exactly. In this article I explored the evolving landscape of family structures by looking at non-traditional parenting arrangements (beyond that nuclear family that we see in the media) and celebrated the diversity of modern families, like those that are co-parenting with former partners, blended families, communal living, polyamorous families, and single parents by choice.

Key themes that emerged from conversations with various families? 

  • The importance of prioritizing children’s needs. 
  • letting go of idealized parenting fantasies. 
  • fostering effective communication and collaboration among caregivers. 

To set you up for success there are several different strategies for successful parenting in non-traditional setups, such as:

  • parallel parenting for minimizing conflict, 
  • creating transitional plans for separation, 
  • considering each parent’s role and availability in shared custody arrangements
  • building support systems and relying on each other’s strengths within communities or intentional parenting groups
  • Using technology as a  tool for managing logistics and communication between co-parents, with recommendations for apps like Fayr to facilitate constructive communication and shared responsibilities

Through my interviews I was able to highlight the rewards of alternative parenting arrangements, including the abundance of love surrounding children, the ability to model healthy approaches to relationship dissolution, and the enrichment of children’s experiences through diverse caregiver networks:

  1. Liana Wenger, MA, LMFT:
    • Highlighted the challenge of co-parenting after a romantic relationship ends.
    • Emphasized the importance of reducing toxicity and increasing awareness and acceptance in co-parenting dynamics.
  2. Gail Cornwall (writer on education and parenting):
    • Explained the effectiveness of co-parenting when caregivers can set aside their differences and prioritize children’s well-being.
    • Introduced the concept of parallel parenting as an alternative when co-parenting with conflict is not feasible.
  3. Rebecca Auster:
    • Emphasized the transformative potential of transitional periods in parenting arrangements.
    • Advised individuals to identify what they need to move forward and what they need to let go of during times of transition.
  4. Lauren (bonus parent):
    • Shared her experience of adjusting her life expectations when stepping in to help parent her sister’s children after a divorce.
    • Highlighted the need to let go of previous ideas about life and embrace new experiences.
  5. Diana Tauder (executive coach and single parent by choice):
    • Discussed the process of mourning previous life expectations and embracing new ones.
    • Shared her positive experience of co-creating a fulfilling parenting experience despite being a single parent by choice.
  6. Melissa Taylor (Executive Director of the Reno Little Theater):
    • Described her blended family setup and the importance of working together amicably with her ex to co-parent effectively.
    • Highlighted the benefits of having four adults share parenting responsibilities.
  7. Christina Perez (Conscious Parent Coach):
    • Discussed the need to adjust expectations and visions of family life after a romantic relationship ends.
    • Shared her positive experience of co-parenting and communal living arrangements.
  8. Nish Nadaraja (Angel Investor):
    • Emphasized the importance of relying on the support of the community, especially in the absence of extended family.
    • Shared his experience of parallel parenting with his ex-wife and the role of the school community in providing support.
  9. Kim Inglinsky and Michael Costuros (non-romantic parenting partnership):
    • Described their intentional co-parenting community and the support they receive from local grandparents.
    • Expressed their rejection of the nuclear family paradigm in favor of a more supportive ecosystem for parenting.
  10. Tara Jazdzweski (writer and book publisher):
    • Shared her experience of being raised in a multigenerational living environment and her consensual non-monogamous relationship.
    • Highlighted the benefits of communal parenting, including access to multiple caregivers and diverse perspectives on parenting.

These interviewees collectively provided insights into the challenges and rewards of various non-traditional parenting arrangements, emphasizing the importance of flexibility, communication, and prioritizing children’s well-being.


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