Parenting Possibilities: Challenges of Same-Sex Co-Parenting

The Co-Parenting Dance

We are both very involved and strongly opinionated as women and mothers. We both have dedicated our lives to our work/career as long as that means we can be available for our kids when they need us. This “doubling up” is often wonderful but at times creates an experience of constant negotiation…

Many people ask me what it is like to be married to a woman and to co-parent together. Some ask out of pure curiosity as the concept seems so unique to them. Others ask out of envy as they think partnering with a woman would have advantages and moments of ease that heterosexual couples or single parents could only dream of. Sometimes it does.

Rarely though is it considered that there may be very challenging aspects of co-parenting as two women no matter how healthy and loving the partnership is. Just the weight and knowledge of how much discrimination for same sex couples still exist creates an obstacle from the beginning.

There are also absolutely no rules or roles pre-prescribed to the game. My partner and I have to figure out each aspect of parenting as is comes. No one is “supposed” to do anything. This is very freeing but can also get totally complicated. For example, just deciding who would be the birth mom to our kids was certainly an interesting way to kick things off…

We are both very involved and strongly opinionated as women and mothers. We both have dedicated our lives to our work/career as long as that means we can be available for our kids when they need us. This “doubling up” is often wonderful but at times creates an experience of constant negotiation which has felt depleting lately.

As our boys get older the dynamic of control is only becoming more pronounced between my partner and I. The decisions, scheduling, food planning, activity planning, even vacation planning becomes exhausting when everything is a negotiation.

My attempt in past years to ease the stress has been to try and split decisions and activities up. One Mom gets control of XYand Z and the other gets control of AB and C. Sometimes that works and sometimes it just falls apart and becomes a free for all once again.

So this month I will launch an experiment and take a radically different approach to co-parenting. I simply will yield and let go more often. I want to experience what it would be like if I took a back seat in more situations. I plan to purposely and mindfully yield to my partner’s lead at least 5 times a day where my knee jerk reaction may have been to jump in and assert what I think is best.

I plan to keep a journal of my little experiment and report back to you all at the end of next month!

Wish me luck!

Shana HiranandaniABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shana Hiranandani shares a home with her two boys, her partner of 12 years, a big dog and a small cat in the Pioneer Valley of Western MA.  Shana earned a B.A. in Psychology from UMass Amherst and a M.A. in Counseling Psychology from Antioch New England College. Shana is a Board Certified Life and Career Coach, offering consultations from her office in Florence, MA.  Her monthly column offers parenting perspectives from a Jewish-Indian-American, 2-mommy household.


  1. Emma Stamas said,

    September 2, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    As a new grandparent to a cute girl with two Moms, one of whom is our only daughter, my advice is to plan and parent with as little judgement as possible. If one thing doesn’t seem to work try something else. Every child and every situation is unique and parents don’t have to be consitently doing things a certain way. Find joy and love and comfort in knowing that if you let go of judgement and preconceived ideas, it is much easier to go with the flow and feel and observe what your child needs are at an given moment. Figuring out what achild needs is very different from giving into a child’s demands or whims and/or forcing your demands onto a child. For example, It is the difference between often feeding a child addictive junk foods instead of offering them a small array of healthy bits of food at meal times and for snacks.


  2. Sara said,

    August 26, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    I liked that you were honest about your struggles and trying a new experiment! Can’t wait to hear about the first week of it next weekend! xo Sara


  3. August 26, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Thanks so much for your thoughts Michelle! Sounds like you have found a good fit for your family. I can relate to the family meeting idea. When my partner and I can carve out time together to talk about the week ahead things tend to go much smoother :)


  4. Michelle said,

    August 26, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    One of the best parenting decisions my family made before my wife had our son was that she was going to have the final say/decision on parenting decisions. While others have input, she has the final say. We try to come to a consensus when we can, but otherwise she’s in charge. We do the same thing throughout our household- someone has the lead with finances, trip planning, scheduling etc. and where we can’t reach consensus or a quick decision needs to be made, the person with primary responsibility has the lead.

    We have also found that having a weekly family meeting helps, because then we’re not constantly talking about ALL THE THINGS that need planning, decisions, etc.

    Good luck with your experiment in stepping back and ceding some control – I know it was hard for me (and continues to be a practice)- but it has paid back much in the way of less personal stress and more family harmony.


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