Four-year-old soccer player Maelyn is the glue that unites her unique family. Her family’s support is so solid that the group even had special t-shirts made, which read “mom,” “dad,” “step-mom,” “step dad.”
These uplifting shirts caught the attention of a bystander at Maelyn’s soccer game who snapped a quick photo. Emilee Player, Maelyn’s stepmother, made the image her Facebook profile picture. To the family’s surprise, their story quickly went viral.
While many sitcoms highlight the failures of the common challenge that is co-parenting, this photo represents “co-parenting at its finest,” as Clara, Maelyn’s mother, put it.
Maelyn holds the undying support of four adult role models on the field and in her everyday life: mother, Clara Cazeau; father, Ricky Player; stepdad, Alex Cazeau; stepmom, Emilee Player.
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Fortunately for Maelyn, the t-shirts aren’t just another pretty picture. All four parents work hard to make it to all of Maelyn’s soccer competitions. Since her stepfather, Alex, is in the military, there are days he can’t make it. But he’s in the stands every time he is home.
And the positive relationship doesn’t stop at the soccer fields. The two families have intentionally intertwined their weekly lives, so that Maelyn gets the best care and support possible.
Maelyn and her half sister, Everlee, (Emilee and Ricky’s daughter) get ample time together, and each set of parents watch the girls frequently. In fact, according to Emilee’s Facebook, Clara even stayed at the hospital while Emilee gave birth.
“We do all birthdays together for Maelyn,” Clara told Huffington Post. “We also go to each other’s birthday dinners with their own families, we do holidays together, we go to one another’s houses, we are literally always doing things together.”
While it’s not always perfect, Clara notes there’s more to the importance of their co-parenting than Maelyn getting quality time with all her parental figures. It has to do with the character she want her child to see and imitate.
“Always respect the people involved because how you treat the other parents is a reflection of who you are,” Clara said.
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