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What We Believe
What is a modern family? In some ways, it seems hard to pin down the answer to this question, as the structure of the family have changed along with the society around it. Social trends in the 20th and 21st centuries like the growing role of women in the workplace, an embrace of diversity in the legal recognition of families, and an ever-increasing savvy and self-awareness among children in today’s digital age make the modern family feel very different than it was 50 years ago.
Some of these trends (greater focus on career development, greater selectivity in choosing the right lifetime mate), have had a substantial impact on how – and when – people find and settle down with their lifetime partner.
That being the case, we have seen an enormous increase in the percentage of the population that is not having children. Whereas in the 1970s 10% of the women in the United States ended their childbearing years without a single child, today that percentage is almost 20% – or one in every five women. And for men, this percentage is about the same (22%).
While some of this growth of childlessness is by choice, for many others is it by circumstance. In particular, many women and men find themselves reaching their mid-30s and above without the traditional romantic partner with whom they would have a child together. Traditionally, for these adults, there have been two choices – the first is simply not to have children, and the second has been to attempt single parenthood.
We at FamilyByDesign believe that both of these options are sub-optimal. To the first, we believe that there are many adults who have all the makings of terrific parents – who have, and who would provide their children with, the love, values, and resources that those children need to become greatly successful in the world. For these adults who have so much to give to their children – and greatly desire to have the opportunity to do so – it is disheartening to see them unable to fulfill this potential.
To the second, we believe that a child greatly benefits from having more than one parenting figure in their lives. An additional parenting figure (or in some cases, additional parenting figures) provides a child with the additional attention, care, love and support that they need during their formative years. We also think that this is a difficult situation for a single parent, who is often under the stresses that stem from a lack of personal time, a lack of emotional support, and a lack of financial support.
To this second point, we certainly believe that a traditional form of family – in which two adults come together in a lifetime romantic relationship and raise children together in a loving home – is an ideal family structure. If every adult was lucky enough to find their lifetime romantic soul-mate and form a family inside this relationship, we would be thrilled.
However, we recognize that our society has permanently changed in a way that makes this possibility unlikely. And we also believe that, when it comes to children, the foundational values of a “modern family” today are no different than that of a traditional family – a desire to love, care for, and protect one’s children, and prepare them for success in the world. And therefore, we wish to provide the best opportunity for single adults – and other adults without a partner with whom they can have a biological child together – to fulfill their wish to become loving, caring parents, while providing more support for both the child and for themselves as compared to single parenting.
Thus, FamilyByDesign proudly introduces the concept of parenting partnerships to these would-be parents. (You can read more about what parenting partnerships are here.) We believe that parenting partnerships will have a significant impact on the concept of the “modern family” in the future, and will provide an alternative for millions of adults to either childlessness or single parenthood.
We recognize that there will be those who have concerns about the concept of parenting partnerships – in particular, around the question of whether the best interests of children are being met (see our section on potential objections to parenting partnerships). FamilyByDesign shares those same concerns, and wishes to point out that parenting partnerships are not for everyone. Furthermore, parenting partnerships should not be undertaken lightly, and the prospective parenting partners should be prepared to spend some substantial time getting to know one another before undertaking this lifetime venture together, in a manner very similar to traditional “dating”. (For more information, see our section on finding the right parenting partner.)
Nevertheless, for those adults who are willing to put in the time and the effort required to ensure a successful parenting partnership, we believe that there are ample opportunities to find the right parenting partner – and that the children born from all this effort, planning, and discussion will be lucky children indeed.
Ultimately, we hope that FamilyByDesign will serve as a resource to millions of adults worldwide who wish to share their love, values and resources with a child of their own. We look forward to your thoughts, feedback, and comments along the way.
Thank you for joining us on this exciting and worthwhile journey.