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Human Interest

Two Georgia Couples Master the Art of Co-Parenting in Amazing Photo: ‘You Have to Put Differences Aside’

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Courtesy Emilee Player

A 4-year-old girl in Georgia had the most supportive squad cheering her on from the sidelines: her parents — all four of them!

On Saturday, Emilee Player of Columbus, Georgia, posted a photo on Facebook of her stepdaughter, Maelyn Player, at her soccer game. Also featured in the photo? Ricky Player (Maelyn’s dad), Clara Cazeau (Maelyn’s mom) and Alex Cazeau (Maelyn’s stepdad) — in matching blue T-shirts.

In just a matter of days, the photo, which highlights co-parenting at its best — has received more than 80,000 shares.

“I think it’s awesome,” Emilee, 23, tells PEOPLE of the reaction to her photo. “I didn’t think it would go this far.”

The now-viral photo is very typical for the family.

“Maelyn doesn’t know anything different,” Clara, 26, tells PEOPLE. “She doesn’t know what life is like without all of us together. She knows she has two mommies and two daddies — and she loves the shirts!”

From left: Alex and Clara Cazeau, Maelyn, Ricky and Emilee Player and baby Everlee
Courtesy Emilee Player

“We do this thing all the time,” Clara adds. “We have dinners together, spend Christmas together — we always call this our ‘family picture.’ “

Ricky and Clara, who welcomed Maelyn in 2012, dated for three years before deciding to split when their daughter was 8 months old.

“Things were rocky, but we decided to stick it out after we had Maelyn,” Clara says.

But when it became clear that things weren’t working out, they broke up with the promise that they’d continue to put their daughter first.

“It was tough in the beginning, but we knew we wanted both of us to be active in her life,” she says.

Clara went on to meet her future husband Alex, whom she wed in September 2015. And Ricky began dating Emilee. They tied the knot in December 2015 and have since welcomed another daughter, Everlee.

“When I came into Ricky’s life, I honored and respected what he and Clara were doing,” Emilee says. “I never had a problem with it. And I’ve come to love Clara as a person, she’s a great mother and she’s a great friend.”

Courtesy Emilee Player

Indeed, Clara and Emilee have become close friends over the years.

“We go out together for each other’s birthdays, and Clara stayed at the hospital the entire time I was in labor with Everlee,” she says.

Courtesy Emilee Player

Adds Clara, “Emilee is one of my closest friends.”

And their husbands get along great as well, says Emilee.

When asked what advice they’d give other families about co-parenting, Clara says: “You have to put your differences aside and forget about the past. You just have to let go and accept that another parent is involved.”

Adds Emilee, “This is about the child — and you want to give them the best example.”