One of Silberberg’s biggest worries is that couples he sees aren’t planning on living together. “I don’t know that it’s better to have people be married, but it’s better to live together and know each other,” he says. “Most people do not live together. It’s like a child being born into an instant but hopefully amicable divorce situation.”
Compounding this worry is the fact that many of these co-parents don’t know each other well enough, hurriedly having children while still near-strangers. “Some of these people are worried about their proverbial biological clocks ticking and they hastily get into these agreements without thinking through the ramifications,” he says. “This situation has the potential to turn rather ugly.”
It was this exact worry about her biological clock that pushed Rachel Hope into co-parenting for a second time when she was unable to find a husband but still wanted more children. “I felt my clock ticking, so I decided to co-parent with Paul, my son Jesse’s godfather,” she says.
I asked if she thought it would be preferable to be married and have children, and she told me, “Nobody is disputing that having a marriage is the best outcome for kids, that it’s the best outcome for people. That’s what I believe God intended, for the most part.”
“But what about the rest of us who don’t meet that soulmate?” she says. “I feel you have a calling to be a parent, and if you have that calling and it doesn’t work out in a marriage, you can do that in a community.”
“I feel that it is a natural, God-given right to have a child,” she adds.
While Hope, like Silberberg, recommends that people get to know each other as much as possible before having a child together, that’s where her traditionalism ends. “The Church will say that I’m off track,” Hope says, acknowledging her Catholic faith. “And I say, ‘Okay, let’s talk about that. In the meantime, let’s also move forward.’”
This seems to be a common refrain: The world is changing, so the idea of marriage and parenting needs to catch up. When I spoke with Ivan, he cited a Pew Poll showing that while 52 percent of Millennials think parenthood is one of their most important life goals, only 30 percent say marriage is. His site exists in part to reconcile those conflicting goals.
But Rachel Hope’s admission that these are inferior family constructs suggests co-parents avoid the essential responsibility of a parent: putting the child’s interest above other considerations — even something as urgent as the desire to have a baby.
— Alec Torres is a William F. Buckley Fellow at the National Review Institute.