'Platonic co-parenting': latest must-have?

Ann Farmer
May 15, 2018
Reproduced with Permission

Socialite and model Lady Victoria Hervey recently revealed that she had has frozen her eggs so that she could later have an IVF baby. Lady Victoria is 41 and because that special someone had not materialised, "it was time to take matters into her own hands".

The other half of the business would come, not from a partner, but a friend. He had agreed to be somehow involved in raising the child.

In an article in the London Telegraph, novelist Katy Regan notes that "platonic co-parenting" is an increasingly popular option for "single broody women and men" There's even a website, Stork, which matches partners for a subscription fee of £10,000, which might explain why this method is not commonplace. But Ms Regan asserts that if people "can commit to that kind of money" they "can choose from two options: either a platonic co-parent or a 'forever partner' - that is, a baby and a romantic partnership combined."

If they put as much time and effort into finding someone to commit to joint parenting as they put money into finding someone lacking that commitment, there would be no problem.

Of course, there is no shortage of people willing to copulate without commitment, but they are not the sort of persons that socialites, models and writers wish to consort with, even if they could spare the time.

Nonetheless, from her own experience Ms Regan sings the praises of this new method of parenting. She does acknowledge that if she or her "not-partner" "met someone and it got serious, things would probably change." However, they have both "had other relationships over the years - and offered each other dating advice in the process". Clearly, this new approach to having a child has the added advantage of dating thrown in, with perhaps the "co-parent" baby-sitting while you are doing it.

Ms Regan is the author of a novel, Little Big Man. In it, she describes how a 10-year-old boy, whose father disappeared before he was born, sets out to find him so that his mother can have a second chance of love.

She says that she "can shed light on what those choosing the other option might expect, since 14 years ago - albeit unintentionally - it happened to me".

But she did not set out to be a "co-parent", and the deliberate choice to do so involves the dangerous and expensive process of egg extraction, egg freezing and implantation, with its dubious success rate.

She does, however, inadvertently shed light on a new attitude to children that prioritises adult happiness while refusing to see any negative effects on the children involved. She is blasé about the effects on her son, who she says has "never questioned much - which has surprised no one more than me".

She adds: "We've always just told him the truth: that there are different kinds of love, and ours is the friendship type". Her son has identified "the best thing" about this arrangement: "He'll never have to worry about us getting divorced because we were never a couple in the first place."

Her son's apparently willingness to make the best of a bad job may be not unconnected with the fact that he is only 13 years old. She may yet find out how difficult it is to raise a teenager as a lone parent, at which point he will have no opportunity to learn at close hand about that other sort of love, the sacrificial love that puts the child first.

Still, with an enthusiastic fanfare from privileged elites, "co-parenting" may well catch on. As she points out, "separated or divorced parents living in two different houses" have to provide "enough clothes and school uniform for two homes". No doubt, as well as benefiting the enormously profitable reproductive technology industry, it will be a boon to capitalism.

But quite how co-parenting will work when everyone has a succession of such relationships with different not-partners and children, is anybody's guess -- perhaps some canny entrepreneur will set up a new business empire to manage the resultant mess.

Or perhaps, as civilisation runs into the sands, the children born of these callous experiments will decide to return to the parenting model from which civilisation sprang, which did not measure a child's intrinsic worth on whether or not they are wanted -- before it became infatuated with worshipping the individual ego and went almost totally insane.