These days there's no on right way to have a relationship, so why would having a family be any different? We're chatting with David, Zeke, and Avary about the rise of the 3-parent family and their arrangement as co-parents with Avary & Zeke being a married couple and David being their asexual platonic friend. We discuss why they opted to do things differently as a non-nuclear family (and how far they went to make it all legally binding), the importance of chosen family especially when traditional arrangements aren't on the table or don't feel right to you, and how to be intentional about your relationships at all stages.
Thank you to our partners for this episode:
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S14E17: A New Definition of Family
00:00:01 - 00:05:08
The dateable podcast is an insider's look into modern dating that The Huffington Post calls one of the top ten podcasts about love and sex. On each episode, we'll talk to real daters about everything from sex parties to sex droughts, date fails to diaper fetishes and first moves to first loves. I'm your host UA Shu, former dating coach turned dating sociologist. You also hear from my co host and producer Julie Kraft chick as we explore this crazy dateable world. Data bowls welcome to a spanking new episode of the dateable podcast. If you didn't know what we talk about just by the name itself, we are talking about modern dating, not data science. But we could. There are some data science to all of this. Last week. This week we have a lot in store. I guess we are numbers people because we are talking about families of three, and it's not what you think. And we hit our 300th episode. So that makes us number as people in itself. Three is our lucky number. 300 episodes is a big as accomplishment. And I know I posted this in our community, but there is a thing in podcasting called pod fading, which 75% of the 2 million podcasts out there fade out within the first year. So the fact that we've made it to almost 7 years with 300 episodes just means there's been a lot of blood sweat and tears put into this. It has been a journey. I feel like the other day I was realistic to one of our older episodes. And I was just like, damn, we've come a long way. When you listen to our earlier seasons, it's almost like when you go through your childhood photos, you know? Like, oh, I can't believe I wore that. That is how I feel when I write that. I can't believe I used to go to that place. I can't believe I had that haircut. That's how you feel. That's how I feel about what we talk about. It didn't even sound like the same podcast. It basically was a totally different podcast we first started. Good, 'cause we're also like 6 years younger than. And he didn't have all those experiences, didn't talk to the thousands of people who were going into this. So I hope that in 5, 6 years from now, we're going to sound totally different than we do today too. I think that is exactly it. At the beginning, it was more funny dating stories and not nearly as deep, but we didn't have that knowledge back then. We kind of needed all those stories to build on the topics that are current day, so we're on this to come, but UA and I are definitely working hard to dissect all the stuff we've learned. That is one of our secret projects that we're working on. And the not so secret project is our finding your person program that we are relaunching very soon. This is the place where we've put all of our years of experience, anecdotes, pattern recognition, data, all of it, into one, to really crack the code on finding that special person for you. Does this program guarantee you're going to find your prison no, because nobody can guarantee you're going to find your person, but we've had so many success stories, even from people who haven't found their person, but who feel completely ready now. Yeah. Oh my God, can we read some of them? Because I feel like seeing those come in on Instagram, like this UA and I had a texture that was, this is why we do what we do. Because this gives us so much joy to get messages like this. And also it's a completely self guided program. So we also have people in it who haven't completed yet. And then we have people who completed maybe in the first month or two. So it's interesting to see people's experiences based on where they are in the course. Someone wrote in and said, I was part of your last finding your person program and just wanted to share it worked. I gave someone a chance I would have filtered out before and we've been happily dating for a couple months now. Keep sharing your dating wisdom. That's amazing. That makes me so so, so happy. This one says so glad you're doing this course again. It transformed my dating and how I was viewing dating. I'm a 100% sure I will find my person, but doing this course helped me realize that I was putting way too much pressure on dating in order to have a kid. So this person actually decide they're going to be a single mom, have a kid on their own and then find a person without that pressure of having a kid. That's amazing 'cause, you know, I think a big part of it, like you said, of course, we want everyone to walk out on the street after doing this program and find their person, but we clearly can't control that a 100%. But I think it's such progress to even just have these shifts or the way you talk about dating, the way you approach dating, the fact that you can recognize pressures, you're putting on it, and you know, we're going into this in this episode. There's no one right way to do modern day and relationships. And we're going one step further of three people raising a child and doing it a different way instead of just the nuclear families. So we love that people are having these revelations that all steps the process and UA and I are just so excited to bring this back to people.
00:05:08 - 00:10:04
So June 20th is the date. Go to finding your person dot com to get on the wait list. We are releasing the video series that gives kind of a sneak peek into what this program is. You get a tip or two even by watching the video, but it will allow you to see is this something that would be a good fit for me because while we want everyone to do it, we want the people that also want to do it. So I think spots are limited. There's only two of us. So we want to make sure the people that are in there are really pumped to do it because, you know, like everything else in life, it's what you put in is what you'll get out. It's so important to sign up for the wait list because you will be getting some of this free content gives you an idea of what the course is, but like Julie said, you'll learn a thing or two. And also just to give you a better idea of what to expect. Now, I have a personal friend who is enrolled in the program right now. And he texted me and said, I am not nearly done because I'm still processing, and that happens too. You know, it's completely self paced, self guided, but we will do a call when you're enrolled in the program just to see how things are. And at the end of the program, you get to schedule a one on one with us or one on two with us. And just to tell us about your experience and feedback. So it's very valuable to have that one on one attention to. One on two attention. The theme is three. It's a group of three. Three. But yeah, I love that your friend is processing. Sometimes it takes a while to process and we give unlimited access, so just because the cohort finishes up in the allotted time when things are released doesn't mean that you're going to lose access. So take the time you need, revisit sections, we all know that data is a process. It doesn't just stop at oh, I did the I listened to these three sections and did a workbook down good to go. So yeah, it's not like that. We poured our heart and soul into this program. I mean, I'm so proud of what we created. So this is not something that we take lightly and we wouldn't be relaunching it if we didn't feel completely behind it and just really believed in the information. And this will be our fourth cohort. We did one in 2021. We did a release in the fall in September, and then we did another holiday release, and then we did a Valentine's Day release and now this is our spring release. So finding your person dot com. That's the website to go to. And oh my gosh, I just, there's no transition for this, but Julie, you were just in Austin and you saw some data fam while you were there. Please do tell who you met. Oh my God, I saw, okay, how many guests? Love you think. I saw a bunch of past guests. So I saw cat Harris, who was one of our favorites from, it was season 11 episode 5 sexless in the city. That was her episode, and so I met up with her. I met up with another past guest that was a friend of mine from San Francisco, but she was anonymous, so I won't reveal her name. She went by Katie on our podcast and her episode was season two episode three, two year ago. So that one was way back. I remember that one. It's a good one, yes. And then my best friend was there also stay in the Airbnb with me. And she was a pastor. And was that it? Was there another pass guess? A singer. Oh my God, yes. We were staying in the Airbnb and there was this music venue nearby, the Continental Club, I believe it was called. And my boyfriend is a huge live music fan. So, of course, part of going to Austin is you listen to live music along with eat tacos and barbecue, which we also did. And I saw this venue and it was right next to our Airbnb. So I looked it up and who is the headliner. It is Donovan Keith and I was crazy. How do I recognize that name? And immediately I remembered he was on our podcast. He was season 8 episode 11 dating rhythm and blues and you and I had met him at south by Southwest in Austin in 2019 at a podcasters meetup. So while I didn't actually get to catch up with this guest, I did hear him live, which was almost better. He had this one. I was like, I think you ain't we might need to get a backup of podcasts. I think we should. Did this set? It wasn't really a songs. It was kind of like a, how do I say like a poetry reading type of thing? And it was about toxic relationships. Oh, shit. Be like, hey, I saw your performance. I want to talk about that aboard depth. That's great. He was a headliner. We can say we knew him when. He was amazing. Exactly, he had a lot of great his stage energy was really good.
00:10:04 - 00:15:03
My boyfriend also enjoyed it. And you know, what a small world though. I was like, this is not what I was expecting. Such a small world. What a productive trip. So that's four pass guests for past guests. Yes, I did go for a wedding, which was also wonderful, but for past guests. So this is my other quick Austin side note. I was asking, how is dating in Austin? Because, you know, I'm very curious. And who are you asking? Some of the past guests that I met up with. The two of them. And this is a sample size of two, so we're not going that big. I didn't like put out a poll in Austin. As people walked by asking them, so what's the dating scene like? This was just in conversation with a couple of people. So Kat had moved from New York and she had a very interesting take like because she part of her whole story is that she's Christian. So she was like, oh, it's awesome. Everyone here is Christian pretty much. And other friend was like, you know, it's kind of weird. And she was actually raised religious, so it's not that she's against this, but she lived in San Francisco where religion doesn't really come up that often. And she said that she sees on dating profiles all the time, like swipe left if you don't go to church. That's like very prominent. So, you know, to each their own, no judgments here, but I just wanted to call it out because it is definitely not something I've seen before in the location. I did not pick up on that. I really thought it was a city of transplants from California, New York, which there are, but yeah, I guess the and I'm sure it's not everyone, but the fact that she saw that. You see more prominently and that was something she had never seen before in San Francisco and then Kat was saying in New York. It was always like people were never going to church or they were agnostic or even atheist. So it was just very interesting that it was just so much more prominent. And you know, we've been doing this long enough that there's definitely themes that persist over all the major cities for sure. I think the basic struggles of modern dating are not that different place to place, but there are nuances, city to city, for sure, of like the makeup of who's there and just the dynamics as a whole. It's still the south. Yeah. You know, no matter how liberal it is, it's still the south. Oh my God. That makes a lot of sense. We saw no guns past this point sign. Wow. Wow. But anyways, it was a fun trip overall. It was just a different world a little, you know? There was something that felt very at home for me and then other stuff I'm not used to seeing signs about leaving your guns past a certain point. That's Texas for you. Woohoo. Well, fun always fun catching up with old guests. Yeah. And see them perform live music, you know? Yes. And getting the updates from the part of what we love about doing this podcast is we create a community after we have someone on our show so they become part of the dateable family and then we feel like we get to visit them all over the world sometimes. Like when we were talking about 300 episodes, you know, this podcast has had many iterations, we started off with a male host, so it's gone a long way, but I think you and I have changed a lot over the last 6 years. A lot. Which is good. Hashtag growth. That growth mindset. And this episode will definitely give you anyone listening. I don't know, food for thought about what growth could look like for you. And something in this interview we talk about is, what is normal? What is normal? Can we redefine when normal is? Instead of saying something is normal or abnormal or non traditional traditional, maybe we just call it what it is. You're in a three parent family, you're in a multi parent family. You're in a two parent family. None of them is more normal than the other. It's just recalling them differently by what they are. Yeah, what I love about this as someone that, you know, is leaning now towards having kids, but you know, still a little concerned. So what I love about this is that you do it your way. I think by biggest concerns with motherhood and parenting and family is that I'll lose myself and that will become my whole world and not that you shouldn't put your kid as a priority, but that's a fair mind that I'll lose all sorts of my own identity. And it was really reassuring to hear like, and we've heard this from other people too, that just because that's what you're fed on Instagram and what the media portrayal of being a mom is. Do you decide how it works for you? It doesn't mean that you're less of a parent because you do it differently. It doesn't mean there's less love there for your child. So yeah, I think that was really nice to hear that.
00:15:04 - 00:20:00
You can do it all if you do it in a way that works for you. Very inspiring. Cool. Well, I think without further ado, we'll probably just get into it. We've pretty much given most of our announcements just a quick plug at dateable podcast, loving the time of Corona. That's where you can follow us, stay up to date with all these announcements. The latest and greatest and again mark your calendar June 20th finding your person dot com. Okay? Let's hear from a few of our sponsors. This episode is made possible by filter off, so we hear this conundrum from you all quite a bit. You match with someone on an app, you exchange a few messages and get excited to meet them. And then when you do finally meet them IRL, you're disappointed. It's like they're a completely different person than the one you exchange messages with. 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Let's hear it from Avery, Zeke and David. We've been doing this podcast for almost 7 years, and if there's one thing we've learned, is that there's no right or wrong way to do relationships, to do love, to do family, and just because our parents are friends, did a one way, it doesn't mean that it works for us. And ultimately, we just have to find what works for us. And it's very inspiring for us to meet people who've created their own families in a way that works for them. So thank you all for joining us for this conversation. We are in a mode of learning and curiosity, so we're going to do less talking and do all the asking if that is okay. And if you can all just say a quick hello. Hi. Hello. Hello. Yes, we've got Zeke Avery and David with us and we'll kind of get into how the three of you are in one unit together. But I just want to do a quick introduction of all three of you. Zika is 39 lives in Oakland, originally from north San Juan, California. He's married, Avery's 37 lives in Oakland originally from New Jersey, married, and David is 40 lives in Oakland originally from St. Louis and is asexual and aromantic. And the three of you have a beautiful girl. And let's just go right into that. Avery, please tell us, describe to us the structure of your family. Absolutely. So the three of us are equal parents to our daughter tavi, and we've structured it that way very intentionally to be able to have more support and neither see nor I had any family living out here on the West Coast. And so we knew when we were ready to talk about having kids that that's on the kind of scary to do that alone. Without family nearby and been very close with David for probably a decade at that point and knew that we wanted to at least explore what it could be like to be a family together and through that process we realized equal legal co parents was the best structure for us. Very interesting. And then Z click, why did you seek out David? What was it about the traditional model that you felt didn't work for you? So Avery and I we lived in San Francisco in the city for about ten years. And we always had adult roommates who lived with us our entire relationship. Living with other people was kind of normal for us. And when we decided we were when we were thinking I should say about having a kid, we really reached out to our broader community and said, you know, who are our chosen family? Who do we want to involve in our kids life as ants or uncles or something more? And we had been friends with David for a long time. And David is someone who identifies as asexual, wasn't in Charlie sure what a script would be that would let him be involved in raising a child, but was really excited about doing so. And so when we brought that question up to him, how do you want to be involved in our child's life? He sort of suggested that he might want to be very involved. And we explored that and ended up deciding that actually inviting him in as a co parent made a lot of sense. We get along really well with each other. So much easier with three parents to be honest. And it's been great. And just for clarification, your daughter is biologically Avery and Zeke's. Correct.
00:20:00 - 00:25:03
And David is the co parent in this relationship. Got it. Okay, great. And then Avery and Zeke two are, I guess, legally married. David legally adopted our daughter. Oh, interesting. So that's what you're saying, Avery about legal family unit. Okay, let's get to David then. David, what made you want to join forces with Avery and Zeke? So as someone who identifies as asexual, I remember when I was younger, really knowing two things, knowing, first of all, that I deeply wanted committed partnership in my life. And a lot of asexual people, especially at that time, I looked around at a world that had a lot of scripts for how you built close committed relationships that didn't really have room for us, especially someone who identifies as asexual and aromantic. I formed what felt right for me was to form really closely committed friendships, not necessarily to date people not necessarily they have traditional romantic relationships. And I was looking around and saying, how do I build relationships that can count on the long term? And especially how do I have a relationship where I can have kids? I'm oldest of three siblings. I'm the oldest of over 30 cousins on both sides. Wow. I grew up around a lot of kids. I knew the kids were something I really, really wanted my life to be happy. And so as I started experiencing close relationships with couples, like Avery and Z like other folks in my life, where I would get to know one member of a couple and we would really hit it off and then it'd be like, oh, I bet I would hit it off with the other man of the couple too. And that was very true with both of you. We just became really good friends that the energy between three of us worked really well. I felt like I could show up in a way that was supportive to you all's relationship really well. So I started fantasizing about what it would be like to raise kids in that kind of a close relationship. And I think I sort of dropped some hints to both of you that that was a thing I was thinking about in the abstract. Like I was thinking about it with you, but I didn't come out and say that. And then when you all made a kind of formal invitation, I believe in 2015 where you were like, that discussion seeks you alluded to where you said, hey, we want to invite our community in, how would you like to be involved? It was a really powerful moment for me to kind of open it and inquiry into, okay, there's traditional version of this, which is, you know, I come over, I help out, maybe when the baby cries, I get the baby back, and then there's a deeper version of this. And is that like, are you open to talking about that? And thankfully, you both were. I love that you found your own way of what works for you. It's fascinating, kind of crazy that what people think of a family is still too hetero parents. A mom and a dad, even though we actually found, and this is in 2014. So it's probably even more by now that there was a Pew Research report that found actually the fewer than half of American kids lived in a so called traditional family and environment. So maybe we'll start with you, David, but I'd love to know what family and parenting means to all of you. So I was really fortunate to be raised like I had a really fantastic family going up. My parents in St. Louis. We're in our extremely loving, unfortunate enough that they're still together and have a beautiful relationship that I've I think learned a lot from in my life and modeled even as someone who identifies as pretty queer and identifies as not seek traditional relationships. So I think I had a thing I really wanted to reproduce, I kind of family really wanted to be produced in my own way. And in a way that felt like to me in the way that I experienced desire for intimacy. And so I think being a parent means it's been about, I think my desire to really show up kind of for our daughter to be there for the full breadth of her growth as a human. And as someone who went through my own queer journey to help her discover who she is and help her discover who she is with confidence, regardless of the expectations in the world that tell her who she's supposed to be. I love that. What about you, Avery? What's your definition of family? Yeah, I would say that for me, it's a lot of it's been about chosen family. I didn't have unlike Zeke and David. I did not have a big blood family, and so everywhere my mom and I moved growing up, there was always this sense of other adults, other children, folks who were invited in. And that was all like pre Internet. So it was really hard to stay in touch. But for me, family are the folks that you make commitments to. And you can count on when things aren't easy. And who are there to celebrate when things are amazing? And I think especially when I thought about being a mom, we all have our versions of crazy and it seems really healthy for a kid to be exposed to like multiple varieties. So they're not just stuck with your own single version of how you handle life, you know? Love that. And then Zeke, what about you? Yeah, so I think the idea of sort of the mother and the father and the kids in isolation with the house in the suburbs and the white picket fence is very much a modern thing, right? We traditionally lived close to family. We didn't often move that far from our parents and our parents would help us raise kids and our siblings would be involved and we'd be involved in their kids.
00:25:03 - 00:30:14
And I feel like as we've moved away from that, we've lost a bit of appreciation of how important it is to have a community of adults around children. And so that's definitely something that I value highly for myself. My own upbringing was a fairly traditional family. Mother and father, very stable, had a sister who was through zoom to the me. We got along quite well. I learned a lot from them. I greatly appreciate the experiences I had growing up. And they've informed a lot of how I want to help raise taffy, even though I'm doing a slightly different script with three parents. Yeah, the isolation is real. I've just having two parents and the kids and in the suburbs with the fence. It's something I didn't grow up within Chinese culture. We call all of our cousins brothers and sisters. So the word cousin doesn't actually exist in the language. And if you ask one layer deeper, what kind of sister then you can say, oh, it's my cousin from the side of the family, but there's just no term for her cousin. So I'm curious, what are the labels here? How do you introduce each other? So for tavi at least, I am daddy, David is Dada. And Avery is mommy. But when we're talking to other people about our relationship, we often refer to David as our co parents or say, we're all parents. We say tavi has two dads, for example, and a mom. It's interesting because we actually live next door to another family where the kid has two moms and a dad. Really? I feel like in the Bay Area, it might not be as unusual as some other parts of the world, but. Well, yeah, I feel like when people hear three parents, they just assume polyamory. That's like the go to of what's the assumption. Why is your situation different than that and not really the root of why you came together? I can speak little that. Yeah, and I'll say we're three parent family. And I think that in some ways it's not that different from our friends who are poly and that the three of us have a committed loving relationship where we are raising a kid together. I think the real difference is that I think in part because of my relationship style and because of both of your relationship styles, Avery and Z the way that we got to this relationship wasn't through being lovers or being in a romantic relationship was through a really deeply committed friendship. Because of that, wow, I think there's many ways that we show up emotionally to support one another logistically to support one another. There's very much a sense that the two of you Abraham Zika are married and the three of us are co parents. And I remember when I first moved in, it was during the second trimester. I moved in to your apartment, and we had a few months to sort of figure out how to live together before a baby was there. And I remember really thinking like, okay, I'm like, I'm showing up for our home and our family, and I'm figuring out, how do I integrate myself? How do we do domestic work together? How do we practice making decisions together on a day to today basis? And I'm also figuring out how do I show up for your marriage? How can I be there to support the time that both of you need to be in relationship with one another, which is a thing that many parents don't get. And similarly, you know, I have other as an essential person I have a community of important relationships in my life. You all I feel like on a regular weekly basis is showing up to enable me to have the connection intimacy that I want in my I need in my life. So I think there's a balancing there that is not that December, similar from polyamory, but kind of has a little bit of a different structure. And I feel like we can get more into that structure. Avery, I love to hear from you. I hear there's something on paper that we have about your family structure. Can you go a little bit into that? Yeah. I think sometimes when you're in a dyad or just two people, it can be really easy to make a lot of assumptions that you know your partner so well that of course we don't need to talk about X, Y, and Z but with three people you can not make that assumption. You have to be extremely explicit about everything. And part of our journey when we were still sitting in that question mark space of his uncle DJ, who still lives in New York or moving to San Francisco and being a full father, was this exploration around our families of origin. Sharing stories from our childhoods of the things that we loved and we want to recreate the things that we maybe never got to experience, but we've heard about and would want to try. And the things that we really did not want to repeat. And it was through that storytelling process that we realized how deeply aligned we were. It was also through that process that we realized some pretty major categories of conversation to have around things like education. Discipline, how we want to introduce responsibility into a child's life. And through that, we ended up David really took the lead on it, drafting a contract. And the contract was also that we could just all be clear that we were all on the same page. But each of the categories also served as an invitation to oftentimes a multi hour conversation. Sometimes we're really difficult things, like what happens if one of us becomes incapacitated, what happens if all three of us were what would we do? What happens if somebody's in capacity that doesn't acknowledge it? How do you handle that? As well as like the just, I think, normal logistical stuff, like what happens if one of us is offered a job in another city.
00:30:15 - 00:35:11
Yeah. How do we decide to move the family? How do we decide to make a major purchase like house or car which we have done? And so I think the contract just really gave us checklist almost of conversations to have. Honestly, probably everybody should be able to say I feel like everybody should do this every couple. You know what's interesting is because in polyamory too, we always, when we've talked to people that are polyamorous, there's so much more communication because there's more people involved. And it's always comes back to the same thing that even if you're in the most hetero door whatever relationship, we should be doing the exact same thing. And it kind of brings it up again here that now that there's more than one other partner, you can't be mind readers. You can't assume that you're on the same page of everything. I guess David, like, how did you decide what should go in this contract? What were the most important things in your opinion about modern parenting? So I think there were sort of two components. One was what's all the stuff where we're going to be our future selves can be grateful if we figure out now how we want to go through it. What are the scenarios where it will be hard for us to communicate? And if we figure out now how we want to communicate then and we can point to it then, it's going to be so much easier, having had that discussion ahead of time. A lot of that sort of hard communication. I think we've had a number of challenging or at least conversations that have had to be really intentional. But it felt like that helped to build a muscle for us to have some of those hard conversations. And then most of it is not necessarily stuff that's hard. It's like the infrastructure of daily living. So when one of the things we realized in the first four weeks or so. First, the baby came home and we were all just like, she'd be sleep. I'll just be standing around her sleep. Because that's what you do as a new parent. First time kid you're still on. None of us. None of us had, you know, could imagine having the capacity to do anything else emotionally in our lives. But then pretty soon we got to a place where you're like, okay, I want to start inviting in my non just baby parts of my life again. And so we introduced this idea of like having chefs. Like there's a time where she's my responsibility and if you wanted something else, you can go do something if someone wants to make plans with a friend or they just want to get some work done or they want to chill out and meet a book or sleep like they can do that and I know that in three hours they're going to be taking responsibility and I can either stay and play with the baby or go do my own thing. And so we early on figured out how do we evenly divide time where we're sort of holding primary responsibility because I think in way too many families that time gets defaulted, disproportionately to one person. And then that's sort of flowed a version of that has flowed through till now when she's four and a half. So I think there's a huge amount of intention that I'm really grateful for that's just about how do we each know that we're all showing up fully. How do we avoid any scenario where there's like invisible work or the possibility of invisible or is that mean? And if that begins to show up, how do we have a place to talk about it so that we can get back to that value of all being equal contributors to the family into this child's life? What I'm hearing right now is that this family unit is very much centered around your daughter. Now when your daughter goes off to school or when you become empty nesters, have you discussed what that would look like when the child is no longer in the picture on a day to today basis. It's a good question. It's something we've talked a little bit about. You know, I think it depends a lot on what our lives look like in our relationships look like in a decade, at least right now we all get along quite well with each other and enjoy living with each other independent and of our daughter. And so hopefully it'll stay that way, but if things shift and we decide to our life takes different directions later on, then that's an option too. Yeah, I just add to that that I see any way it pans out, Zeke and Avery, you all are going to be some of the most important relationships in my life. And we're going to continue to be incredibly close important parts of one of the good life and the most likely scenario is that I think we'll probably continue to live in together in the house that we own and be retiring together and that will be great. And if there are other relationships or other communities that draw us for some of the part of the year, I can see scenarios where we'll do what we always do, which we'll sit down and say, what are the things we most want to build in our lives? And how can we support one another and doing that? Let me know if you don't want to answer this. Are there any plans about your children in the future? And would you consider adding more people to your tribe here? Maybe Avery can answer that question. I feel like Avery is holding all the power here. I think we're all kind of vaguely trying to mind read consent for each other. Can you give me a thumbs up if I'm allowed to share? Oh. Yeah, we got one, two. Three thumbs up. Yay. So yeah, so we are actually planning for number two. And in our proper fashion, we're not even going to start trying until much later this year, but we've already been talking about it for months and planning how that's going to go and why.
00:35:12 - 00:40:01
We did raise the question about additional adults and I wasn't particularly attached to number two being my genetic child, so like, what would that mean if we had somebody else who wanted to have a kid? And I think that through kind of through playing with scenarios in a mode of non attachment, we were able to each name where we had comfort or resistance. And not feel like anything was just automatically ruled out so that we were saying no to a scenario if that really wasn't what we wanted. And I think in our case, for our lives, it makes more sense for the three of us going to go round to similar ground one. So genetically means. And also, there wasn't someone else in our life at this moment where there was such a deep connection that it felt like a really natural next step to invest more and deepen a relationship towards that exploration of joining as a fourth parent, for example. But we do know folks who have done that, you know, who have that poor parent model. I think for us it just wasn't quite the right call for this time. Got it. And what I'd add is that having gone through this process, we also have this robust tool set for inviting other people in as chosen family, even if we're not inviting them as equal co parents. And so I think that there are a number of folks in our life where we were sort of sitting down and having conversations with them about how they can be a part of our family, even if they're not fully invited as co parents. And I can see in the event that in the future someone were to be invited in, it kind of emerged out of that process. It's not an all or nothing. There's a way to think about that invitation. Yeah, she has a lot of aunties and uncles that are chosen family. And a lot of folks that we know who have chosen not to have children, but who want to have a relationship with the child or children in their lives. And so when you find that it can create a really beautiful symmetry. But when I'm gathering here, it's just a lot more formalization than the average, right? Because I definitely feel like I'm playing aunt indirectly to my best friend's children, but not in a formal way. I want to go back to the three of you in your connection. I guess we will start with Zeke in Avery. How did you two meet maybe you can kind of take us through it? Sure. In appropriate fashion for us, we met at a science conference. I'm a scientist, Avery was a recovering scientist. Got it. T-shirt right now for all of our listeners says climate science model one. And I was giving a talk in Avery was in the audience, and she came up to me afterwards. And we chatted and grabbed drinks and sort of kept in touch online for about 6 months after that, then she came to New York City where I was living at the time on her boss's book tour. We really hit it off, started dating, did long distance for 6 months, and then she sort of gave me an ultimatum. Like, this is great, but I can't handle long distance thing. When you move to San Francisco, and I was like, hell yes. And so I ended up moving in. And that was 2010. So we got married four years later in 2014. Okay. And then how did you beat David? We also met at a conference. So David and I met at a social capital markets conference, both of us have green MBAs and have been working around making business a force for good and through that process. We, I think, first really connected on a professional level and went through a period of time where we were contracting and didn't really have colleagues in a normal sense. And there was a lot of trust. And so I think very, very early on, there was something really great about being able to essentially have a mutual non disclosure agreement that allowed us to share things with each other about our work lives and through that process getting to know each other more and more. Though he was the one who definitely popped the intentionality question, which I had never experienced previously, but was like super thrilled to have. When Ames referring to there is that a thing I learned to do tied to my kind of asexual new romantic experiences as I began to form a really close friendship with someone if I felt like that we were contributing a lot to one of us night lives after about a year I would invite as I invited both of you. I'd invite people to go on a walk with me and just talk about a relationship as relationship and say, how are we showing up in our lives right now that we like? What are the ways to showing up that we want to commit to, that maybe are just things that have happened in the past, we want to with greater intention. What are things you might want to explore, that you haven't explored yet? And I think it was out of those discussions about intentionality that kind of some of the seeds of what became our co parenting relationship discussion started growing. Okay, this is just, I think this is key here right here. I think so many people who are dating right now do not have these conversations about intentionality. Or even about how they want to raise a family.
00:40:01 - 00:45:03
And then they get into relationships and they just think they're going to figure it out ad hoc. And I think these are really key questions to be asking. So David, can you just repeat those questions one more time? So people can have a chance to jot it down or even do a journal entry about it. So I'll repeat maybe slightly differently, which is that to me, as an ace person, a relationship as an understanding and I have about how to spend time with someone. And so when I meet someone, we learn some things about how to spend time together. And then we kind of deepen that understanding together. And so when I would go on walks where I have these intentional conversations, it wasn't just like we're in a relationship is that good. Do we want to be in more relationship or less relationship? It was, what are we doing together? What are the specific things that we discovered to do together that uniquely at both of our lives? How do we celebrate that, commit deeply to that and learn from that? Beautiful. And then Zeke and David sounds like David, you met through Avery, obviously, Avery and seek you met. How did you start to form a closer bond, the two of you? Do you want to go first or should I? I can go first. So I think the first time I met you, David, you had known Avery through work before that. But we picked you up to drive you somewhere. And I remember spending the whole time asking him what this asexual thing was, because I'd never heard of it before. Hopefully I didn't pepper you with too many questions. But I really enjoyed the conversation, David was really smart, talked about relationships in a much more intentional way than anyone I'd ever met before, which was fascinating. We sort of take a lot of relationships for granted or sort of go by the seat of our pants and he's the one who very much doesn't. And so that really struck me in our first meeting. And then we kept hanging out through sort of Avery work stuff. And then later as friends and sort of inviting David along for trips with other friends we did or to come and hang out at our House and play board games. Lots of different things over time sort of built up a friendship. Oh, I was just going to echo that. Zeke, when I first met you, I was just really struck by your brilliance. You're someone who took just an interest in the climate and has really you built a place for yourself as a leading contributor in the field. And so I think there's a huge amount that I saw that I wanted to learn from you. And so many ways that I've seen more and more of this is to show up as a father that you show up for the people in your life with such a deep and solid foundation of support. And so you've always been someone that I've for your brilliance for your solidness of someone that I've just been really grateful to have around and in my life. And I think I sensed that early on. Like when I first met you, I was like, oh, I see why Avery chose this one. He's good. And so I think our relationship sort of built for my side is built on that understanding. We're kind of coming back full circle to what Avery was saying about a chosen family. Now this is all ringing true for me where, yes, we were born into certain families. We don't have choices with them, but when you get to create a family together, you are able to choose the people that you want in your lives. And one way you've done that is your daughter has a very unique last name. What is it composed of? So she is Octavia House father Jay Kent, though if you ask her her big name, she'll introduce herself as supreme galactic commander. Rightfully so. But Avery was the last Kent, there is no one else in her family with that last name. Everyone else is gone. And so she made a promise to her grandfather that the name would not die out. And that was very important to her. And so we decided that our daughter's name would the last name would be Kent and then House father day is the middle name because putting that all in the last name would be a little too much to fit in most forms. And we were advised from the lawyers that it is important for the child to have all the names on the birth certificate just in case. Fortunately living the Bay Area that hasn't actually been that big of an issue in terms of new prove it. But that felt like a good idea to be cautious there, but for like baby number two, one of the things we talked about was last name and big room two will be actually last name House father. Because while Zeke has a bigger family, there actually aren't that many who have kept the last name House father going. Whereas David's not even the only David in his immediate family. So we're good on that book. House father is just such a great name, by the way. Yeah, and we always want to be able to, like, if we have to take her to the hospital or something, we just want to be able to her idea. And show the relationship. Well, that's what I think is interesting here. We talked about it up top. It's like multi parent families aren't totally unique. But what you're doing feels different still. I think a lot of it is because you've made it so much more formal. In your opinion, maybe I'll start with you. What else do you think is unique about your situation? I mean, I think speaking a bit from the mom perspective on this and I'll be honest like this usually what I get flak for when I say it. But I never wanted mom to be my entire identity.
00:45:03 - 00:50:01
And I knew that from day one, I knew I always wanted to be a mother, but I'm also an entrepreneur and a business leader and a virus spinner and a baker, and I have all of these other things that make me me. And I always knew if I lived a life where being a mom became my be all end all, I'd present it. And that didn't feel like a good role model for my kid, you know? And so part of this was also very intentionally seeking out a structure that would create space for me to have the things in my life that I felt were important and to also have the space and time for my relationship with Z being here so many parents like all Friends who have new kids and they're like a year and a half in before they've had their first date night. Yeah. And some of that's cultural, some of that structural and logistical. And we went to the restaurant Octavia because it was named after our daughter and we thought that'd be adorable. It's a great restaurant. Three, four months in. 301st date night. And so it also just felt healthy for our long-term marriage. Yeah. To be able to have space and time to do that relationship maintenance and I actually, that's a horrible way to put it. But like, to nurture, to nurture our relationship. I think a lot of women can relate to that. And that's despite men in hetero relationships, like really stepping up and it's definitely not generations before, where it all fell on the woman. But what I've heard from a lot of my friends that are parents is that it's still does fall a lot on them and they become this mom identity and a lot of them struggle with that. So what I love about what you just said is it offers an alternative. It doesn't need to just be that. So I think that's so great. I guess Zeke, what from your perspective? How do you think your arrangement has is different and has a baby supported you two? I mean, I echoed Avery says and giving us time to deepen our relationship and not have it be all consumed by parenting, even though that's a huge part of it. But also, you know, I think in many ways, Avery and David have introduced process into my life. They are the type of people who take meticulous notes on everything and have a million post its. I'm sort of fly by the seat of my fans. I'll just figure it out. Which is good at times, but being able to put a lot of structure around child care to be able to have our weekly family meetings where we divvy up responsibilities for everything for the whole week for dinners and morning and evening shifts and all that sort of stuff. And can really schedule ahead of time when one of us wants to take a trip or two of us want to take a trip how to figure that out the logistics of it has been really, really helpful. And I think I've just been blessed to find two people that I really get along with and that we don't really have much drama. And if we ever do, we have really good systems to get ahead of that and work through any issues we have. And then David, what about you? I think I echo what both of you have said. And I'd say that I think not because it's intrinsically better, but because it's just our style, I think especially Avery and my style. We're far on the kind of intentionality and process spectrum. We get a lot out of having a family meeting with a recurring agenda that where we get to figure all the stuff out and like being in a world where we wake up every day and a lot of things feel figured out like I think not everyone is just into that as we are and not everyone needs to structure their family that way, but for us it works really, really well and I think some of that emerges from Avery in my history as facilitators, my history and collective living, like my history and ace relationships feeling like, unless I had another way to be explicit intentional, could know if something was relationship was real, because I didn't have the scripts of dating to fall back on. And I think that for us, that's worked really well. And it's always exciting to get to share that with people, sort of with the knowledge that it's not the only way to do it. Let's hold that thought for a few messages. This episode is brought to you by drizzly. 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00:50:02 - 00:55:01
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Again, that's finding your person dot com. Something that I'm just kind of thinking about noodling on is the fact that the three of you have a lot of this figured out. And I'm sure there'll be more things to figure out as you go along. But then there's also the external world who needs a little bit of catching up and I would imagine in schools. There could still, I mean, the Bay Area is very progressive, but there's still some archaic things that happen like the father daughter dance. So I'm curious to know if you've encountered this yet and how have you been able to, I guess, I don't even know, educate people or even to change the system. I feel like forms are the bane of our existence. Like the form you had to fill out for us. And I don't know what to pick here. There are so many forms where there are only space for two. Yeah. There isn't structurally space to have a third. So we have had to make requests with school and stuff to say, nope, we're adding a third profile here, because legal parent like that has to happen or having to choose which of the two of us gets listed on a thing. And it's not always the same too. We kind of like roll the dice, it's like, it's not like Zeke and I are the default one and two that get listed on some things. Sometimes it's you can do it sometimes it's me and David. And so yeah, I think that there's a structural piece around how books ask for information, but I do think living in the Bay Area in general has inoculated us against a lot of some of the other more traditional scripts, though dunes, he compares. Yeah. I mean, certainly a lot of times if David and I are out with Tommy doing something people assume we're a couple. And that's completely normal around here. But I think it as at least so far I've been pretty, you know, we haven't had any major issues like someone can't get into a hospital room or something. And I don't know how that would be different if we lived and say Missouri instead of Oakland. Yeah, so who is going to the father daughter dance? Everybody? Do they even have father daughter to study more? I feel like that's not the right term at all. My friend's kid just went to one. I had to read a little bit, yes. Yes, in LA. Who's the best dancer? That's who that's how you decide. Yeah, we would try to push, try to push the boundaries and then we'd flip on it, and we'd see who's most excited about dancing. Or we'd send Avery. Is there an audition process? Show me your moves. I'm curious why was it so important to make this all legal for you all? Why make you legal co parents? Does that seems like a big factor in all of this? So the real, because we had made strong commitments to each other. And we trust each other. But the one thing that came up over and over again, particularly talking to lawyers about this is that you can make a legal financial commitment to someone. That's enforceable. I'm going to help pay for split costs associated with the child, for example. You can not make a legally enforceable parental agreement. We can not sign a piece of paper that says, David is allowed to see tavi no matter what. He does not have legal parental rights. And there's no way for us to give them to him unless he is a legal parent. There's just no system that exists in our legal framework for that. And so we realized it would create, obviously, unless something goes really wrong, these things generally wouldn't come up, but it could down the road create some really bad dynamics for David. If something did go wrong and suddenly he wouldn't be allowed to see toffee anymore or see our daughter anymore. I'd echo that most of the work we did was to understand how to reach agreements ourselves because family court is never a place we want to be outside of the actual adoption process. But it's reassuring to know that in the unfortunate event that we get there, there wouldn't be a huge power imbalance. So we went through the traditional adoption process, which was weird. So Zeke and I filled out the paperwork as if we were giving away our child. Wow, okay. And so the paperwork is identical to a normal adoption. So we answered all the questions as if we were giving away our child. And then at the end, they scratched out the part where we actually say we're giving up our rights.
00:55:02 - 01:00:02
Just like initial no they're not. And that's enforceable. They just scratch your head more formal than that, but not really. And then David went through the adoption request side of the equation. And it took about 18 months. And it was actually really funny because we ran into some ways that that system is really not thinking about our use case where we ended up having to go Zika and I had to end up going through a lot of things like background checks, fingerprinting, home study, did it up, because we were David's roommates. Not because we actually were the biological parents. So we went through a scrutiny process that's pretty intense and rightfully so for the adoption process, but that is not one that people go through when they just have a child. Wow, so this so no one had really seen this before that you talked to. No, so thank goodness to our gay and lesbian LA Friends. Most of the use cases of this law before were, say, a gay couple having a third parent with their surrogate, or having a third parent with their sperm donor. So that's where the legal framework and structure came into place. I do believe we are the first ones to utilize that law to bring in literally a friend. Somebody with no legal or biological relationship. Oh, fascinating. Signing paperwork like you're giving away your child, just so you can be in the system for David to adopt your child. That's fascinating. Well, this has been such a fascinating conversation all around, but I guess we will start with Zeke, but kind of before we go into some takeaways. I'd love to hear what advice would you give to people that are considering more of this non traditional route of co parenting of just approaching things differently? If you find the right people and you get along really well and you have processes to deal with conflicts that come up, it can be really rewarding. It does really take a village, particularly if you're raising a kid. And so having more people around and more people involved can make life easier for everyone. At the same time, it is a huge commitment. You have to make sure it's almost like getting married in a way. You have to make sure this is someone you're willing to spend in an ordinary amount of your life with. And you can manage that without killing each other. And that's hard enough for married couples sometimes. And so we, in some ways, are lucky that we found three people that we all get along so well. But other people could too, just be careful what you're getting into. And then what about you, David? I think I would echo that and just say that there is a lot of power in being able to build trust intentionally. I talked a lot of friends that are pregnant and I'll say like, okay, think about who you really know and trust in your life. Now think about, can you imagine building more trust with them? So even if they're not showing up as full co parents, they're showing up intentionally in the life of your child. Thinking about how do you invite people into having shared relationships with kids. What's the trust you need to build and how do you go on that journey of building trust together? I think it'd be really fruitful. Even for people who are thinking about traditional families and definitely for people who are thinking about not traditional, but I think I'd really echo Zeke and it's a really serious commitment. It takes that work of trust building, but the work is really worth it. And then Avery. First I'm going to be a stickler about language because I think actually what we're doing is the traditional version. We're just doing the non nuclear version. Yeah. I also building off of what David said invite folks to really think about degrees, right? So it's not an all or nothing, right? Who is somebody that you would be comfortable having changed your kid's diaper or giving them a bottle? Or putting them down, or watching them when you're not home, or picking them up from school, right? When David talks about graduating trust, like you could be an absolute yes on the first three and a no on the fourth, and that's fine. So long as you both know where that boundary is. And I would say that that applies beyond children that that's in all of our relationships. You know, who's somebody that you're going to call at 2 a.m. because just desperately need to talk to someone or who's going to pick you up from the airport when your stuff falls through, right? We all have those things in our lives. We just don't tend to name it. And I think there's a lot of power in language and in naming something and just that explicitness. Yeah. Has tavia ever come home and said, my friend so and so only has two parents? How do you explain that? She hasn't said that from a friend, the story we showed before was we got a book called Sylvester and the magic pebble, about a donkey that finds pebble and turns into a rock, and at the end of it, they come together and it's the baby Sylvester and his two parents. And she's like, well, where's the data donkey? And we're like, well, Sylvester doesn't have a data donkey just as a mommy and a daddy and she's like, well, that's unfortunate. That's so cute.
01:00:03 - 01:05:01
Well, this has been such a great conversation. I mean, I think I have two major takeaways from it. I think the first is, you know, the benefit of modern day to get relationships is that we choose what works for us. That there is no script and that could be scary because we don't know what to do, but it also can afford us a richer life and you know, just doing things our way. I loved what Avery you said that. You know, like this allows you to have an identity that goes beyond a mother in David, this allows you to have a family where traditionally asexually. It would be more difficult to know there's so many factors that allows us to create the love life we want in that extends into our families and parenting in the whole 90 yards. So that's the first takeaway. The second I have is intentionality. We often talk about on this podcast, intentionality when dating, when finding a partner, but what I've picked up here is how much attention stays throughout the whole process, especially parenting and family and what happens after you find that person and you check off all the boxes and do all the milestones, all of that. This doesn't stop. This is something that is what keeps great relationships. We can't expect people to be mind readers. I think this intentionality, even if you are having the most nuclear of nuclear families, that is something that could get carried over. So those were my major takeaways. Love all those. Echo everything you said and one thing that really comes to mind is everyone listening to this podcast should think about what is your definition of family, something we feel like we know what it is, but I think putting it into words and like you said Avery putting labels on those feelings really help people steer them in that direction. We recently has someone wrote in and said, thank you for asking me this asking this question about family because I realize I want a kid. So I'm going to be a single mom and then I will date and have fun with the people I date, but at the end of the day, my definition of family is me and my child. And that's wonderful too. So I think it's good to take a pause and define what family means. And then in dating, we spend so much of our time reading each other's minds, playing these games. Oh, I could maybe see myself building a family with this person. Well, ask the question, right? Even in early dating, there's no need to wait for the third date or the 5th date. I think to talk about your vision and to talk about what it is that I see myself building and see if the other person is also aligned is there's nothing wrong with that because that is the end goal is that you want to build something with people or by yourself. Yeah, I think it almost releases some pressure too. So you can do things the way you want to do that and you don't need to follow this path and if you don't do that and you're not on it, then you're not going to ever have a family. I think that's the part that gets in so many people's way that this pressure is, it's polarizing and it doesn't allow people to just form those connections. Yeah. Could I add something to what you shared about asking that question? Because sometimes the question can actually be really intimidating. And I think part of what we found so powerful was letting it emerge discovering it through shared storytelling. The talk about sharing the stories of your family of origin of your childhood. The stories that make you come to life, the things that represent what you want and in that storytelling, you can uncover that resonance and you can uncover if there's really alignment there because I think sometimes if it's face is just a head on question that that can be a little paralyzing sometimes. Yeah, and maybe people don't know how to answer it on the spot. That's a very good point. I love that. Through storytelling and through storytelling, it does come discovery. I think that's great. Is there any other parting words David or Zeke that you have? I think I'd echo what you were saying earlier of just really encouraging people to think about all the ways that if family is important to you, think about all the ways that people might show up to contribute to that. Don't just think about like maybe really important to find a romantic partner with whom to build family, but don't think about that as the only path to having to support life, because even if it's there, it most of the time isn't the entirety of the past. So thinking creatively about how many relationships can come together to build a family, I think, also allows us to release some of that pressure to have the one perfect relationship that lets us do it. And instead say like, okay, I'm going to plan a lot of different seeds of connection with people and I'm going to see how they go and I'm going to see what emerges from them and then invite that. Invite those relationships into building families with me. I love that. So often people think like, oh, I just need my friends until I meet that person.
01:05:02 - 01:09:29
That is so far from what probably really needs. So I love that aspect of one person can't be your everything. It's just so much pressure. Even when you found an amazing person. And then Zeke anything that you want to add to close us out. Just for a lot of us, especially living in far flung parts of the country. Our Friends are an important part of our family. And so don't be afraid to, if it's right, to ask them to be part of your family. You know, families don't have to necessarily involve romantic relationships with all the participants. In fact, in some cases, it can be more stable when they don't. Or if it works, it works for you. But I think that invite your Friends in, figure out what the dividing line for you between friendship and family is and how that works. And in many ways, we're going into a world with more chosen families. And I think that can be beneficial for a lot of people. I love that so much, because I think sometimes to people feel like, oh, when my friends get married and have kids, they're just gonna leave me, you know? That's gonna be, I'm gonna be the one person, but how can you, you know, one, if you're in that case, just show that you want to be part of this family, but then also if you are more of a nuclear family model, invite that person in. I love that so much. And I know that you've all been interviewed by multiple media outlets. If people want to learn more about your story, where can they find out more information? Yeah, so we're always happy to chat with folks who are exploring this. We don't have anything like formal for that, but if they reach out to you all looking to connect with us, we'd be more than happy to learn more about their journey and see if there's things we can share about ours. Awesome. And you had a really, really good write up in the Atlantic too that will link in this. Well, thank you all so much for this open conversation. I personally learned a lot and I know our listeners will too. One way to invite everyone in is, hey, why not go to Apple podcasts and give us 5 stars? Reviews. I got a transition there somehow. Sorry, sorry, but cheapens the content. That's our livelihood. 5 stars were a love note, something about that. And we also want to hear about your way of doing family, or doing relationships. So we're always looking for those stories. You can email us at hello at dateable podcast dot com. Thank you again for this lovely conversation, and we will wrap this up. The dateable podcast is part of the frolic podcast network find more podcasts you'll love at frolic media slash podcasts. Want to continue the conversation? First, follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter with the handle at dateable podcast. Tag us in any post with a hashtag stay dateable and trust us. We look at all those posts. Then head over to our website dateable podcast dot com. There you'll find all the episodes as well as articles, videos, and our coaching service with vetted industry experts. You can also find our premium Y series where we dissect, analyze, and offer solutions to some of the most common dating conundrums. We're also downloadable for free on Spotify, Apple podcasts, Google Play, overcast, stitcher radio, and other podcast platforms. Your feedback is valuable to us, so don't forget to leave us a review. And most importantly, remember to stay dateable. What if your next cloud project could lead to climate resilient housing? Join Fannie Mae use emerging tech, solve better problems, like helping the housing industry address rising flood risk, innovates, collaborate, help us drive changes that support sustainable, affordable housing for all. Advance your skills with a flexibility to work remotely. Find tech jobs with impact at Fannie Mae dot com slash tech that's Fannie Mae dot com slash tech. Hi, everyone. It's doctor Mark Harrison. President and CEO of intermountain healthcare. I'm excited to introduce my new podcast called a healthier future. I'll be speaking to innovative leaders exploring big ideas for transforming and improving the future of health and wellness. We'll also be tackling topics such as leadership, career journeys, work life integration, and how to make good trouble to drive social change. You can listen to this exciting new podcast on any major platform. And while you're there, we'd love to hear what you think of our show. Thanks for listening.