10 Questions to Identify Your Ideal Parenting Partner

So you’ve been thinking about “taking the plunge” into a search for your ideal parenting partner. But before you start looking, you should know what you’re looking for! “Looks and brains” may come to mind as two initial search criteria, but you should approach the search for a parenting partner with much more that that in mind.

In particular, we’d like to point out that choosing a parenting partner is not the same as choosing an anonymous sperm donor.  In the latter case – where the sperm donor is not involved in the child’s life – the recipient could feel free to focus mainly on the physical and mental qualifications of the donor. When it comes to a parenting partner, a much broader set of criteria is required, given the ongoing involvement that your parenting partner will likely have in your child’s life – and your own!

Here are the 10 most important criteria that you should consider as you start your search for the perfect parenting partner.

(1) What type of relationship do I want with my parenting partner?

This is a critical question that will set the stage for your parenting partner search. Do you foresee your parenting partner as: a romantic partner? A best friend? A close friend? A casual friend? How often would you ideally see each other – every day, a couple times a week, twice a month? Would you be very social with one another? Would you be integrated into each other’s circle of friends? Each other’s families?

You may not have all the answers to these questions on day one of your partner search, but it is certainly worth spending some time up front thinking about what type of relationship you’re seeking, as you want to find someone who is thinking about a similar type of relationship to the one you want.

(2) Do I have any absolute physical requirements for my parenting partner?

Perhaps you’re already set on the idea that your parenting partner needs to have certain physical characteristics, in terms of height, body type, hair color, eye color, ethnicity, etc. You should ask yourself if any of these characteristics are absolute necessities, or just “nice to haves”. The more absolute physical requirements you decide upon, the smaller the size of your potential pool of parenting partners.

(3) Do I have any absolute educational requirements for my parenting partner?

Are you looking for someone with 2 PhDs from Stanford, or are you OK with someone who only has a high school degree? Or perhaps something in between? Keep in mind that “IQ” (Intelligence Quotient) and “EQ” (Emotional Quotient) are equally important in a prospective parenting partner.

(4) What type of values am I looking for in a parenting partner?

Are there certain values where you feel it will be important for your parenting partner to share similar views? This of course includes a wide variety of value types that are too numerous to mention here – the role of the government, views on social issues, the importance of work and education, the environment, the role of religion, and many similar value sets. While parenting partners will not require the same outlook on all value sets, you should determine which ones are “deal-breakers” for you before you set off to finding your partner.

(5) What type of personality requirements should my parenting partner have?

Given that you’ll likely be spending some significant time with your parenting partner, it will be important that you think about the right personality type. On the one hand, you will want to make sure that your partner’s personality type is compatible with your own. On the other hand, some personality characteristics that are the opposite of yours may bring “balance” to your mutual child-rearing process. For example, if you’re lax on discipline, perhaps your parenting partner has more of an “authority” presence around children. If you’re a “big-picture” thinker, perhaps a more detail-focused parenting partner would be helpful.

(6) What type of lifestyle should my parenting partner have?

Are you OK with a partner who’s a complete slob when it comes to household cleanliness? What about someone whose diet consists of fast food 5 days a week? Given that your child will share both your lifestyle and that of your parenting partner, you should give some thought to lifestyle “dealbreakers”.  Some lifestyle issues to consider are: cleanliness / organization, diet, health consciousness, social life (or lack thereof), pets, work/life balance, tv/media habits, and sleep habits, among many other possible lifestyle considerations.

(7) Do I have a preference as to my parenting partner’s sexual orientation?

If you’re a straight woman or straight man, would you be OK with a gay or lesbian parenting partner? Or perhaps you’d prefer one – some straight parenting partners have focused on finding a gay / lesbian parenting partner in order to avoid any question or confusion around the romantic status of the partners.

If you’re a gay man or lesbian, would you be OK with a straight parenting partner? If you’re part of a same-sex couple that’s seeking a parenting partner of the opposite sex, is the sexual orientation of your parenting partner an important consideration?

(8) How important is my parenting partner’s physical location?

What happens if you find your ideal parenting partner through a search on FamilyByDesign’s website – only to discover that they live in a different city?  (Or different country?) Would you be willing to pursue the partnership anyway? Or would you consider moving to a different city for the right person?

(9) How many children do I ideally want to have?

If you’re set on having two or three children, and your prospective parenting partner only wants one, this could be an issue. Make sure this discussion is out in the open in your earliest conversations.

(10) Is it OK if my parenting partner already has kids?

Some persons pursuing a parenting partnership may already have existing children from another relationship (or as a single parent). How would you feel about raising a child with someone who already has children of their own?  Is this a dealbreaker, or do you like the idea of other children around your relationship with your partner? And if it’s OK, what type of relationship would you ideally like to have with those children?