What is Platonic Parenting and Is It Unhealthy for Children?

With every generation, the idea of how-to parent children evolves with the current philosophies, trends and researched practices. What stays consistent is the idea that the basis for parenting is love. Platonic parenting has become the newest trend in parenting that is truly focused on loving the child.

In the most basic terms, platonic parenting is when the idea of romantic love is removed from the parent relationship, and the focus is solely on the children. Platonic parenting is a contractual agreement between two people to have a family together without having a romantic relationship.

Because of type of contract, the logistics of the family are discussed and decided on before the agreement is signed. So, everything from finances, forms of discipline, and child-rearing philosophies to education and living arrangements are pre-planned. The couple enters into the agreement with full understanding of what and how the relationship will be.

Types of Platonic Parenting

Platonic parenting can take many forms. First, it is an alternative to parents who are or were headed for divorce but choose to stay together for the children. They will live in the same home, but not share the same bed. The parents, in a sense, are just amicably cohabiting and raising their children.

A second type of platonic parenting is when two friends who, for whatever reason, decide that they are ready to have children, but do not want the burdens of a romantic relationship. This is most often true for women who put their careers first in their lives. At some point, the woman feels her “biological clock” ticking away, and the desire to have a child is suddenly pushed to the forefront of her life.

When this happens, that woman can be faced with the thoughts of becoming a single parent, which carries with it many unique struggles. Through the idea of platonic parenting, however, the woman can have that partner in parenting the child without the stress of a romantic relationship. She can find a friend, male or female, who is also at this stage of life and build a family with that person. The friends then enter into a platonic agreement to have children together, but not have a marriage or intimate relationship.

Finally, a third style of platonic parenting occurs when a couple breaks up but wants to keep non-biological parents active in the children’s lives. In our society, it is not uncommon for people to have children from previous relationships. When they are in new relationships, the new partner becomes a stepparent to the children. Stepparents can form true bonds with the stepchildren, which should be honored if the couple breaks-up.

However, after a divorce, a stepparent does not have any legal connection to the children that are not biologically his or hers. Through platonic parenting, that stepchild and step-parent can continue to have a positive relationship.

Is Platonic Parenting Good for Children?

The overall concept of platonic parenting is to put the children first, the “parental relationship” is not really part of the equation. But, is this really the best way to raise a child?

Some would argue that not demonstrating a romantic, loving relationship between parents will negatively impact a child. That child will not understand what a good intimate relationship looks like. He or she will not see what a healthy marriage is. Also, because the couple is not in a romantic relationship, the desire for that type of relationship will be looked for outside of the family unit created by the platonic parent agreement.

This could also be difficult for children to understand when, as a family, they all live together, but mommy or daddy are seeking love elsewhere. The traditional ideas of family values are put into question.

On the other hand, many believe that platonic parenting is the wave of the future and is what is best for the child. Because the parents do not have a romantic relationship, the emotions that surround that type of relationship are negated.

When there is a disagreement on anything concerning the child, the emotions can be set aside, and decisions made solely on what is best for the child. Also, since the parental relationship is created with the purpose of raising a child, the only true focus of the relationship is for the child. The child is fully loved and provided for, just like in any other family type.

Effects of Platonic Parenting on Young Children

Any type of parenting affects children, but does platonic parenting negatively affect young children? The answer is probably not. Children are unaware of societal traditions and expectations. Because of this, most children will not understand or even think that their family unit is too different from anything else, especially if they have been raised from birth in a platonic family.

When it might begin to impact the child is during school age years. This is when children are really exposed to all types of families from traditional to single parent. Because platonic parenting is not a mainstream type of family unit, it might become difficult for the child to be able to connect his family to what he is learning about or seeing around him.

During this time, the child’s parents must be very proactive in educating their child about how their family works as opposed to other family types, and how just because it is not a traditional family, it doesn’t mean it is not a good family.

One other area of platonic parenting that can affect children is residency. If the parents choose to live together, there is less of an issue. But, if the parents choose to have separate residence, then the child is bounced back and forth between the homes. This can have a negative impact on a child, just like it does with children of divorced parents.

Effects of Platonic Parenting on Teenagers

Because platonic parenting is so new, there is not much information on how teenagers can be affected by that style of family when they are raised from birth in the platonic family. With that being said, many teenagers benefit from platonic parenting when it is with a non-biological parent.

Children can form very close and strong bonds with stepparents and taking that stepparent out of their lives because of a break-up can be detrimental. Therefore, if the relationship between stepchild and stepparent is positive, it should be kept intact through platonic parenting. Teenagers will benefit from this because it gives them another parent to turn to during those difficult teen years.

Complications of Platonic Parenting.

As with any type of contract, there are complications that can, and will, arise. Platonic parenting agreements are no different. First off, there can be issues with parental rights. With any type of co-parenting, the law has a lot of gray areas. Many times, a co-parent does not have any legal rights.

Because of this, both people entering into the platonic agreement must be fully committed to the terms of the agreement, lest one should lose the parental status, in the legal sense. Along the line of parental rights, there is the idea of time. Time with the child needs to be split equitably so that the child has the full opportunity to have both parents in his life. The time can also be together as a full family or individual.

Then, there are finances, which in any type of relationship can be a sensitive and stressful subject. Who has what financial responsibility? Trying to divide financial responsibility appropriately so that no one person in the relationship has a heavier burden than the other can be a difficult task.

In connection to finances would be living arrangements. Not always do platonic parents share a home. Many times, they live separately and then create a joint custody agreement. Having the separate homes can also increase the financial burden on both parents. Again, here is where the commitment to the platonic parenting agreement applies.

Finally, one of the hardest hurdles platonic parents will face is mainstream society.  Because the traditional family unit has been so ingrained in our society, there may be a negative reception to those choosing the platonic parenting route. This will be true, especially for women.

Although there have been great advancements in the feminist movement, there is still the idea that to be complete, a woman must be a wife and then mother.  The thought that a woman would want to raise a child with someone who is just a friend seems preposterous. A lot of the women will face judgement from others, including their own parents who have an expectation of what a family should be.

Overall, platonic parenting is not necessarily a bad thing. Many millennials are finding it to be the way to go to have their careers and families at the same time. As long as both people entering into the agreement are committed to all that they lay out ahead of time, these parents can be just as successful as traditional parents and enjoy the benefits of loving and raising a child.

Amber Harrison

Amber Harrison

Inside the mind and life of a first time stay at home mom–recipes, DIY and adventures!

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With every generation, the idea of how-to parent children evolves with the current philosophies, trends and researched practices. What stays consistent is the idea that the basis for parenting is love. Platonic parenting has become the newest trend in parenting that is truly focused on loving the child. In the most basic terms, platonic parenting […]