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Platonic Co-Parenting

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Ted: It's genius! Instead of throwing away your life marrying some girl, you just go splitsies on a kid with your best bro!
Barney: I wouldn't have to choose between dating and having a family, hell, I could bring the kids on dates!
Ted: And a broken home? Um, what's that? Our kids will never know. Cause we're never gonna split up!

There are all kinds of families. Some characters have a mother and a father. Some may have a stepparent (with varying levels of goodness and wickedness) thrown in. Some were Raised by Grandparents. Some have two mommies or two daddies. Some have a single parent.


Bob, on the other hand, is raised by his mother Alice, and Charlie. No, Charlie isn't Bob's father, nor is he romantically involved with Alice. He might be her best friend, or perhaps her brother. Either way, he's every bit as involved in Bob's upbringing as she is; he'll drive him to school, cook him dinner, punish him when he acts up, and come running if he needs help. It doesn't matter that Charlie and Alice aren't a romantic couple; Charlie is, for all intents and purposes, Bob's father.

Note that this doesn't need to involve two characters of the opposite sex, or even only two characters. Platonic Co-Parenting is simply about two or more people raising a child together, without romantic entanglements. It's quite common for this sort of family to also to be a blended family; Charlie helps Alice raise her son Bob, and she helps raise his daughter Danielle. It's also possible for none of the parties to be biologically related; perhaps Charlie and Alice found Bob abandoned when he was an infant, and decided to take him in. Either way, there's often a message about how a Family of Choice is just as important and real as one dictated by blood, if not more so. (If Bob's biological Disappeared Dad shows back up, expect him to call him out, pointing out that Charlie did more for him than he ever did.)


Depending on the story, Alice and Charlie might undergo a Relationship Upgrade... but even if they don't, if they're not related, it's a pretty safe bet that a good chunk of the fandom will want them to. Odds of an official upgrade are actually pretty low; a Last-Minute Hookup might occur, but most of these couples are relegated to Just Friends status, sometimes with the occasional Ship Tease. (If Alice is Alan or Charlie is Charlotte in this particular scenario, or if there's more than two of them involved, the chances of an actual upgrade are even slimmer.) If the creator really wants to hammer in that the setup is strictly platonic, there might be an Incompatible Orientation involved, or they might be sure to place emphasis on the "heterosexual" part of Heterosexual Life-Partners. One or both parties might also be involved with someone else, often with the other as a Shipper on Deck. Some works might have the characters actually consider dating, before concluding that they're Better as Friends. (Not that any of this ever stopped the shippers...)


Not to be confused with a pair of Amicable Exes raising their children together. Alice and Charlie can't have been romantically involved (or if they once were, it needs to have been long over by the time the kids came into the mix).

With blended and non-nuclear families becoming more commonplace, this pops up in Real Life, too.

Compare Like a Son to Me, Parental Substitute, Family of Choice, Honorary Uncle, and Happily Adopted. This could also occur between parents and eldest children who are Promoted to Parent. May be a reason for Has Two Mommies if the same-sex parents aren't a couple. Also see Amicable Exes for when divorced parents are on good terms and co-parent their children.

Contrast Glorified Sperm Donor.


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  • A series of Compare the Meerkat commercials has Aleksandr and Sergei raise a baby meerkat pup named Oleg together. They leave Oleg behind with other meerkats in Africa, but he returns to the duo in later adverts (along with a new sister) and joins in their everyday adventures.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Dad, the Beard Gorilla and I: After his wife's death, newly single father Souichi invites his younger brother Kouji to move in to help him raise his daughter, Michiru. However, this arrangement is only temporary, and at the end of the manga, the brothers go on separate ways to marry their respective love interests.
  • Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid: Kobayashi acts as a mother for Kanna while Tohru is something of a hybrid between a mother and an older sister. Despite Tohru's crush on Kobayashi, their relationship remains non-romantic.

    Comic Books 
  • Asterix: Asterix and the Chieftain's Daughter features, the daughter of Vercingetorix being raised by two Gaul chieftains.
  • In Runaways (Rainbow Rowell), Nico Minoru casts a spell that somehow enables her and Chase Stein to be recognized as Molly Hayes' legal guardians, in order to protect Molly from being sent back to foster care after her grandmother is arrested.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch: Zelda and Hilda Spellmen, who are sisters, raise their teenage niece Sabrina in the absence of her parents.

    Fan Works 
  • Played with in Best Friend, an alternate universe Harry Potter fanfic. Sirius and Lily raise Harry together after James is killed by Voldemort. However, they find themselves falling in love with each other, but Sirius refuses to act on it because he feels it would be a betrayal of James's memory, so he insists on staying Lily's friend. There is No Ending, so we never find out how it got resolved.
  • A similar example as above in Circumstances of an Unexpected Trio series by Musicangel913, though they are also raising Draco along with Harry, who was given to them by Narcissa after her husband was tortured into insanity and learning that she'll be killed soon as a liability for being more loyal to her family than to Voldemort. When Harry asks Sirius how come he and Lily never got together romantically, Sirius admits that both were still holding a torch for their deceased partners (James for Lily and Marlene for Sirus), and their attempts to come together due to the stress of raising the two boys and the approaching dates of their dead lover's anniversary lead them to admit they were Better as Friends, which in the long run helped their family unit.
  • CucumberPlane’s Adventures in an Extended Existential Crisis: Shen Qingqiu and Shang Qinghua are not attracted to each other, but spend all their time together after faking their deaths. They take in the former Street Urchin Wei Wuxian and raise him as their own.
  • The Differentverse: Scootaloo lives with her aunt Derpy, who raises her and loves her like a second daughter, but she also knows and loves her birth mother (Derpy's sister), who gave her up to Derpy so she'd have a real mom to raise her while said birth mother, a workaholic, went back to the fieldwork she enjoyed; she does visit from time to time though.
  • In The Family Saga of the Gerards, an Andrea Chenier fanfic, there is Charles and Idia's marriage. Everyone thinks they are a perfect couple, loving parents of two daughters Dorothee and Marie. In fact, they have always been Like Brother and Sister, Dorothee's father was Idia's first husband, an aristocrat (not good in revolutionary France), and Marie is a Child by Rape conceived in prison. The girls view Charles as their father and never suspect their parents' marriage is a ruse.
  • My Mirror, Sword and Shield, Lloyd and Cecile share a home and raise their adoptive son Suzaku together but their relationship is platonic. Cecile thinks of Lloyd as her annoying friend, while Lloyd sees her as his assistant.
  • Son of the Sannin starts off with this as its base premise, with Jiraiya and Tsunade moving in together to raise an infant Naruto. That said, the two of them do eventually become romantically involved and get married after a few years of living under the same roof.
  • Though Toriel remains the primary caregiver, many Undertale fanfics have most of the boss monsters (Sans, Papyrus, Undyne, etc) sharing the duty of parenting Frisk, mixing this trope with Raised by the Supernatural. Sometimes the entire Monster Kingdom has shared custody of Frisk.
  • Touhou fanworks occasionally depict Sanae (who came to Gensokyo as a teenager) as being raised by the goddesses of the Moriya shrine, Kanako Yasaka and Suwako Moriya (and sometimes goes into Has Two Mommies instead). It gets complicated when you remember Suwako is actually Sanae's very distant ancestor.

    Films - Animated 
  • Barbie as the Island Princess begins with Sagi (a red panda) and Azul (a peacock) finding a human girl washed up on the shore of their island after a shipwreck. Despite Azul's initial protests, they end up helping her, and raising her as their own. At some point during the Time Skip, they were joined by Tika, a baby elephant whose biological parents are never mentioned nor seen.
  • The Boxtrolls sees Eggs happily reunited with his biological father, but also not turning away from his adoptive father, Fish. The movie ends with the young boy now having two loving dads, who will continue to care for him together.
  • In The Lion King (1994), Timon and Pumbaa take in Simba and essentially raise him.
  • The Willoughbys ends with Nanny adopting the Willoughby children, and moving in with Commander Melanoff to help him raise his own adoptive daughter, Ruth. The end credits play over a series of pictures of the happy blended family together.

    Films - Live-Action 
  • In the Disney film The Apple Dumpling Gang, the title characters are a trio of orphans, two brothers and their little sister, who happen to strike it rich with a discovery of gold. The man acting as their guardian, having previously tried to find them a good home so he wouldn't be saddled with them, realizes that the kids are sitting ducks who will never know peace because of the fortune hunters wanting to adopt them and their money. He proposes that the local stagecoach driver, a woman who doesn't particularly like him but does genuinely like the kids, marry him and adopt the kids with him. She reluctantly agrees to a platonic partnership marriage for the sake of the kids. Of course, there's a Relationship Upgrade waiting in the wings, but it takes them a while to get there.
  • Captain Marvel (2019): Before losing her memory, Carol acted as a second mother to her best friend Maria's daughter, Monica. Notably, they spent every holiday together, and when Carol was believed to be dead, her possessions were given to Maria. Monica's father is never mentioned.
  • Dumplin': Willowdean was raised by her mother and aunt, though she asserts that her aunt was the main parental figure in her life.
  • The main characters of Friends with Kids attempt this, deciding to conceive and raise a child together without that pesky relationship business. They both date other people while raising their young son, to the bafflement of their friends. They wind up falling in love anyway.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: The adult members of the team — Peter, Gamora, Rocket, and Drax — are shown raising Baby Groot together. In the opening sequence, each of them gets brief a moment showcasing their individual relationships to Baby Groot while fighting the monster.
  • In Sympathy Seeker, 29-year-old Anastasia searches for her Disappeared Dad, knowing only his name and vague details of her parents' brief meeting. She ends up finding three lonely old men, each of whom potentially fits these details. They get on so well together that Anastasia asks all three to stay on as her dads, even hiding her mother's photo to prevent them from finding out which one is the real father. Turns out, no one is, but they still ultimately decide to stay.
  • By the sequel to Three Men and a Baby the three men have formed a unit with Mary's mother Sylvia that sees all four of them raising her together as equal parents. Jack, Mary's biological father, also makes it clear that while he jokingly flirts with her a lot neither he nor Sylvia are interested in getting together.

  • Anne of Green Gables: Siblings Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert decide to take a boy from an orphanage to help Matthew around the farm. They end up as foster parents of Anne.
  • In The Count of Monte Cristo, Bertuccio and his late brother's wife Assunta take a newborn Benedetto in and raise him as their son. While they tell Benedetto they're his parents, there is never any indication of a romance between them, and Bertuccio seems to think of Assunta as his own sister.
  • In the first book of the Earth's Children series, Ayla and Uba are raised by their mother Iza and uncle Creb, who live together after Iza's mate died (he was an abusive jerk, so they're all well shot of him). Creb is like a father to the girls, explicitly stating at one point that he thinks of Ayla as a daughter. Later in The Clan of the Cave Bear, they all help Ayla raise her son, Durc (no man wants to mate Ayla because she's considered unattractive by Clan standards, while Durc's biological father is the Big Bad Broud, who unknowingly got Ayla pregnant after raping her and wants nothing to do with Durc).
  • Forbidden subverts this. At first, Maya and Lochan do this, having had a Promotion to Parent a long time ago. Then it becomes obvious that the setup isn't really platonic.
  • In The Giant of Wilmington by Eleanor Farjeon, a foundling boy is adopted and raised by seven sisters.
  • The Mortal Instruments: Clary was raised by her single mother Jocelyn and Jocelyn's best friend Luke. Jocelyn and Luke eventually have a Relationship Upgrade later in the book series.
  • Pride and Prejudice: Miss Darcy's father died five years before the start of the story, leaving her an orphan. Mr. Darcy (her older brother) and Colonel Fitzwilliam (her cousin) are her legal guardians.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events: In the book "The Vile Village," the Baudelaire orphans are adopted by an entire village at once, thanks to a program that takes the saying "it takes a village to raise a child" rather literally. This being Lemony Snicket, it doesn't work out very well.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Jon Snow and Val share responsibility for Val's orphaned nephew. Though they do have some Ship Tease, it doesn't go anywhere due to Jon's Vow of Celibacy.
  • In The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson, Annika is a foundling raised by Heterosexual Life-Partners Ellie and Sigrid.
  • Mixed with Nephewism in Codex Alera, where Tavi is raised by his Uncle Bernard and Aunt Isana, who are brother and sister rather than a married couple.
  • Ascendance of a Bookworm: After the protagonist goes though the nobility variant of Adopted into Royalty, her mentor from earlier in the story, the man pretending to be her biological father to make the adoption more palatable to the public, her adoptive father, and the respective wives of the latter two are all her guardians as far as she's concerned.

    Live-Action TV 
  • All American: The protagonist, Spencer, gets recruited to play football for Beverly Hills High School, but in order to attend, he has to live with the school coach's family. On the weekends, he returns to his old neighborhood to live with his single mother and younger brother. His mother is essentially co-parenting with his coach.
  • In one plotline of The Bold and the Beautiful, Thomas (who, it must be noted, is batshit crazy) attempts to use his son Douglas as a means to get to Hope, since she has a soft spot for the kid, and Douglas' biological mother has died, causing him to see Hope as a Parental Substitute. Hope eventually realizes what's going on, but feels she can't abandon Douglas, so she tries to persuade Thomas to make her his son's legal mother without actually becoming romantically involved, intending to then sue for complete custody. This being a soap, Thomas being Thomas and Hope being Hope, this leads to an extremely convoluted Gambit Pileup, with lots of I Know You Know I Know to go around.
  • Discussed in Dead to Me, when Judy thinks she might be pregnant, and worries about whether or not she's honestly cut out for single motherhood. Her best friend Jen says she'd gladly raise the baby with her, pointing out that they already live together and Judy already helps out with Jen's own sons.
    Jen: We can be, like, a three-child mothering team.
    Judy: Mothering team? That's awesome.
  • Elementary: When Joan shares the fact that she wants to adopt a baby, Sherlock states that he'd be happy to help raise her child as an Honorary Uncle. This eventually happens in the series finale.
  • The plot of Full House is about a widower, his best friend, and his brother-in-law raising his children together.
  • Harlots: Discussed. Kitty tries to convince her friend Fanny that they, along with Harriet, should leave the Wells brothel and start their own. One of the benefits would be that they could all raise their children together. Margaret had forced Kitty to send her daughter away and planned to do the same to Fanny once her baby was weaned. Sadly, Kitty is murdered by the end of the episode, but Fanny is eventually allowed to keep her daughter.
  • Gilmore Girls: Downplayed in the backstory. Lorelai was a single mother raising Rory, and there was no real arrangement with Luke, but he was always a prominent part of Rory's life. He was always willing to clear his schedule to help out if she was sick or needed help with a project. When Rory graduates high school, she invites her mother, her grandparents, and Luke. When Rory goes to college, Luke helps move her in and winds up lugging her mattress around all day. He winds up giving a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Rory's biological father Christopher over it when Christopher gets threatened by Luke's place in Rory's life. Luke and Lorelai have UST from day one, but they don't start dating until after Rory's in college, and his relationship with Rory isn't dependent upon his romantic interest in Lorelai.
  • Heroes:
    • Matt and Mohinder both bond with Molly, and she and Matt both need a place to live, so Matt and Mohinder end up co-parenting her. And they remain friends (or, rather, upgrade from endless bickering to a real, if dysfunctional, friendship) after she gets Put on a Bus (to go live with Mohinder's mother in India, per the graphic novels).
    • When Noah has to leave his family for a while in Volume 3, Claire's biological mother moves in and helps take care of the family along with her adoptive mother. All four of Claire's parents are involved in her life to some degree at various points, in fact.
  • Ted and Barney in How I Met Your Mother seriously consider going this route in the episode "The Rebound Girl", figuring that they might never find love, so why not settle down and adopt a child together? So Barney then turns up with a baby he claims to have adopted, but who later turns out to be his new niece he's simply babysitting for the day. They eventually realize they're being crazy and decide they'd rather wait for the right person to start a family with, but not before we get some adorably (and hilariously) shippy conversations about it.
  • In the American sitcom Kate & Allie Jane Curtin and Susan St. James played childhood friends who, after they both divorced their husbands, lived and raised their kids together.
  • The show My Two Dads is about a young girl who, following the death of her mother, is raised by two of her ex-boyfriends—one of them is her father, but they don't know who. The two dads were friends who fell out some time ago, but resolve to put their differences aside for the kid's sake.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • Once Emma and Regina get over their initial dislike of each other, the two form a unit co-parenting their son Henry, even without a hint of romance between them. The two regularly discuss how to raise him and he refers to both of them as "Mom(s)". Multiple characters also lampshade this, with Charming once noting that as a teenager Henry might not "want to talk to his moms" and Cruella noting that when talking about Henry's mother she might have to be more specific.
    • Rumpelstiltskin was raised by a pair of spinster sisters after being abandoned by his biological parents.
    • John and Michael Darling, who are brothers, planned to adopted Henry together after Regina wanted to back out of his adoption. However, she changed her mind and adopted him after all.
    • After Robin Hood and Maid Marian both die, their orphaned son Roland is raised by the Merry Men.
    • Zelena, Regina's half-sister, gets pregnant by pulling a Bed Trick on Regina's boyfriend. After he dies, the sisters patch up their relationship and Regina helps Zelena take care of the baby.
    • Lucy is raised by her single mother Jacinda and her mother's best friend Sabina, who Lucy refers to as her aunt.
  • Orphan Black:
    • Sarah raises her daughter Kira primarily with help from her mother and brother. Kira's biological father gets involved in season 2, but doesn't play as large a role in her upbringing.
    • By the end of the series, Alison and her husband Donnie are helping Alison's sister Helena raise her twin sons.
  • Pose: This applies to Blanca (a trans woman) and Pray Tell (a gay man) with regards to their Family of Choice. Blanca is the mother of the House of Evangelista and though Pray Tell is not an official member, he acts as a father figure to Blanca's children.
  • Queen Sugar: Siblings Ernest and Violet Bordelon raised Ernest's grandson Blue for a few years because Blue's father Ralph Angel and mother Darla were in prison and dealing with a drug addiction, respectively. Once Ralph Angel and Darla start getting their lives together, they gradually take over parenting responsibilities.
  • Raising Dion: After Nicole's husband dies, his best friend Pat steps up to help her raise their son, Dion. When Pat admits to having feelings for Nicole, she rejects him.
  • In Raven's Home, a Sequel Series to That's So Raven, Raven and Chelsea have both married, become mothers, and gotten divorced during the interval between the two shows. They then move in together in one apartment, both acting as mothers to their kids. (The father of Raven's children is also involved, and he and Rae have managed to be Amicable Exes. Chelsea and her ex-husband have not, and he's in prison on top of that.) This is even lampshaded when their landlord tries to boot them out for having two families under the same roof, which is against the building's rules. His mother steps in and vouches for Raven and Chelsea.
    Phil: They're two families!
    Myrna: I only see one.
  • The Rehearsal: After Angela cannot find a suitable man to raise her son with, Nathan decides to step in as a co-parent, with the twist that their son isn't Angela's actual child, but rather a group of child actors pretending to be her son so that she can practice raising a child.
  • Siblings Fiona and Lip raise their younger siblings in Shameless (US), because their parents are useless at best.
  • Sister, Sister, about a pair of twins who were Separated at Birth and find each other again, has the girls' respective adoptive parents Lisa and Ray move in with each other so the sisters can stay together. Although Lisa and Ray initially clash, they later develop a strong friendship. Although they date for a little while, they are non-romantically co-parenting the twins for much of the show and don't end up together.
  • Supernatural:
    • After Kelly Kline is impregnated by Lucifer, she convinces Castiel that her unborn nephalim son is a force of good, not evil, and the baby adopts Castiel as his father while in utero. Since human women do not survive giving birth to nephalim, Castiel not only helps her through the pregnancy but prepares to be the primary caretaker of the child.
    • After Kelly dies giving birth to Jack, Castiel briefly dies and is sent to the Empty so Sam and Dean raise Jack, who is in the body of a young man but has the mind of a child, for a few episodes. When Cas returns, the three of them serve as Jack's adopted fathers.
  • The Umbrella Academy (2019): Reginald platonically raises his seven adopted kids with a realistic android mother named Grace and his talking chimpanzee butler Pogo.
  • The revival of Will & Grace ends with the titular duo buying a house in the 'burbs together, so they can move there and raise Grace's son and Will's daughter under one roof. They know others might think it's weird, but it's the best, most stable life they can provide.

  • The ending of Into the Woods has the Baker agreeing to adopt the recently-orphaned Jack and Red, raising them alongside his infant son. Cinderella offers to move in with them, so she can help out with taking care of the kids and house. Unsurprisingly, the Baker and Cinderella are the Fan-Preferred Couple.

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 
  • The Overly Sarcastic Productions telling of the myth of Perseus shows baby Perseus and his mother being taken in by a kindly fisherman and his wife, resulting in him growing up in an unusually stable household by Greek mythology standards. Red's depiction of the family makes it equally possible to interpret them as either this trope, or a polyamorous triad.

    Western Animation 
  • In Care Bears: Unlock the Magic, Tenderheart sees himself as a father figure to the main bears, and just as well the bears see Wish Bear as their mother. More literally, all the main bears (but especially Grumpy) see Dibble as their daughter of sorts, though it's all but spoken.
  • Carmen Sandiego: The titular character was raised since her youth by the five main faculty members of V.I.L.E.: Coach Brunt, Dr. Bellum, Countess Cleo, Professor Maelstrom, and Shadowsan. Each one takes a different level of intimacy and love towards their ward with Coach Brunt pampering and spoiling the young girl to Shadowsan's standoffish behavior. The rest are somewhere in between. It is a genuinely happy relationship, which makes Carmen's recognition of how evil they could be and her betraying them all the more shocking to, as she puts it, the only family she's ever known.
  • Darkwing Duck: Drake and Launchpad are not romantically involved, but rather best friends (though Launchpad occasionally gets on Drake's nerves). They work together to raise Drake's adopted daughter, Gosalyn.
  • DuckTales (2017): Donald and Della are twin brother and sister. However, when Della gets lost in space for ten years, Donald raises her kids as if they were his own. When Della returns, she begins to take an active role in raising her sons, but Donald continues to treat them as his own as well.
  • Final Space: Following Avocato's death midway through the first season Gary Goodspeed takes to looking after his son Little Cato, even officially adopting him in season two. Towards the end of the same season, following Avacato's return due to a temporal loophole the two settle into this sort of relationship, Little Cato even takes to calling them both his dad.
  • In the Rugrats episode "Potty-Training Spike", the babies, who are all platonic friends with Phil and Lil being twins, all decide to temporarily become Spike's adoptive family while they try to toilet train him (the reason they think he needs to be toilet trained is because Didi said that peeing outside was not allowed, and they assumed it applied to dogs too). Tommy and Chuckie decide to be Spike's dads, while the twins take on the role of his "Uncle Bill and Aunt Harriet".
  • Steven Universe: After the death of his mother Rose, Steven is raised by his father Greg and Rose's war compatriots the Crystal Gems. Neither of them date Greg, though at one point the Gems Fusion Dance into a single being to pretend to be his wife. Luckily, the parents they feared would judge them for their unorthodox family actually don't mind as long as Steven is raised responsibly.
  • The SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Rock-A-Bye Bivalve" has Spongebob and Patrick raise a baby scallop (the equivalent of a baby bird) as if it were an infant. Spongebob takes the maternal role while Patrick plays a (very unhelpful) dad.
  • Baloo and Rebecca Cunningham from TaleSpin are not a married couple and on many occasions are at each other's throats, especially when running Higher for Hire, with Rebecca being bossy and Baloo being lazy. Nonetheless, they both act as parental figures to Baloo's adopted son, Kit, and Rebecca's biological daughter, Molly.
  • From season 3 of Young Justice (2010) onward, Artemis platonically lives with her sister’s ex-husband to raise her niece with him.

    Real Life 
  • In many cultures, a child's uncles, aunts, grandparents, and sometimes older siblings are expected to help with their upbringing.
  • In 2017, the Canadian government began allowing people to share legal custody of children without requiring them to be romantic partners. This is thanks to two best friends, Natasha Bakht and Lynda Collins, who fought for two years to have Lynda be legally recognized as the second mother of Natasha's son, Elaan.