Following this year’s introduction of “wedleases” and “monogamish” to the personal relationship lexicon, we now arrive at the latest concept to jar our understanding of family life: “co-parenting.” On its face, the term sounds harmless — after all, parenting involves partnership. But, “co-parenting” isn’t being used to describe a renewed focus on the dual responsibility of a mom and dad to rear their children or even a focus on strategic parenting after a marriage ends in divorce.

Rather, this elective “co-parenting” describes a new way for adults to skip over love and marriage and go straight to the carriage, all with the ease of social networking websites that one fan has called “Facebook for fetuses.” With no intention of marriage, cohabitation, or any sort of romantic relationship with the co-parent, a man or woman can solicit a partner with which to conceive a child through in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and share custody in the future.

Sites like Modamily are quick to point out that they provide recommendations for co-parents to go through background checks, undergo health screening, and enter into detailed legal agreements regarding the rearing of the baby being constructed, all in an effort to establish a strategic baseline for the future split care of the child. Some reports are honest in explaining the phenomenon as essentially “cut[ting]straight to divorce” with all the legal complications that can abound.

In fact, the difficult realities which children of divorced parents face will likely be some of the same challenges faced by future children of co-parents. An ever-growing body of social science research tells us that divorce causes dramatic upheaval in the lives of children, imposing on many children the strong likelihood of negative economic, educational, and behavioral outcomes. Touting the functional equivalent of divorce — co-parenting — in light of those likely harms is not only foolish but inherently shortsighted. Without even an attempt to give children the known benefits of an intact marriage between their mom and dad, co-parents intentionally seek to introduce a child into a fractured home life from birth.

Children aren’t “things” to be peddled online and discussed as goods to be shared back and forth. Co-parenting backers state “love of the child is first and foremost” behind their efforts to give life to a child.  In reality, the only thing they are certain to give is a profound display of selfishness in prioritizing adult interests over child welfare.