Families come in all shapes and sizes — that's the message two couples and their four children, known on social media as "Polyfamory," are promoting.
Alysia Rodgers, 34, and her husband, Tyler, 35, found themselves developing feelings for another married couple they were friends with: Sean Hartless, 46, and wife, Taya, 28.
The Rodgers, who were already parents, decided to commit to a polyamorous foursome and in 2020, Alysia and Tyler and their son and daughter, now 7 and 8, moved into a new home with Sean and Taya, as the couple explained to Today.
"Our kids already knew we were dating Sean and Taya," Tyler says. "We told them: 'You know, Mom has a boyfriend and Dad had a girlfriend and we're going to move in together, and we're all going to be a big family and they're going to help parent you, so we're going to need you to treat them like you treat us — like parents.' "
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.
Tyler says the transition was "really easy" and a year later, their family expanded. The family of six became a family of eight, welcoming two new babies in March 2021 and October 2021.
"I birthed one and Taya birthed the other," Alysia says, noting the quad "did not regulate the biology," so they do not know who of the two men is the biological father to each baby.
"We're all equal parents to all of the children and it's not up for debate or discussion," Alysia explains. "It's not something that we're trying to hide from the children either. If they want to know where their DNA comes from, we will absolutely go down that path with them. But at this point in their lives, it doesn't matter."
"We wanted to do everything we could to make sure that everybody feels like an equal parent," Taya adds. "At this point, finding out their genetics would change nothing."
While they're on the same page about the big things, there are definitely differences in parenting, Sean admits.
"I tend to be a little more — some would use the word 'harsh,' I use the word 'structure,' " he explains. "I think that there's benefits to the way I do things, and there's benefits to the way they want to do things through gentle parenting."
He continues, "Kids are ever-changing, so if you get stuck in one style of parenting, it's not going to work. I'm struggling the most with learning that, so we still have conversations about that daily."
Though many people have concerns or criticisms about their family's structure, the couples know their "polyfamory" is what's best for their kids, who get the benefit of having four loving parents engaged in their lives, they say.
"At the end of the day, we're just like any other monogamous family — there's just four of us," Tyler says. "Being a parent is so much more than just biology, and that's what we're about."