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-   -   Talking to parents about the polyamory lifestyle (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=10661)

Terra 06-06-2011 05:40 PM

Talking to parents about the polyamory lifestyle
 
Perhaps this should go into the "New to polyamory" section, but I'm throwing it out here. I am very close to my parents. My mother literally lives a mile down the road from us and is very active with our lives and with caring for our daughter. We both work, and she has always been very involved- providing care when our daughter is sick, picking her up at school so we can go home and get dinner ready, letting her have sleepovers so we can have "date night" every week, etc. Because of this, it seemed impractical to not let her know that we've decided to try out polyamory, as she always asks what we're doing when we go out, etc. The whole idea of "opening" our marriage was so that there would be no deceit, as I slipped up and had an affair and could not live that way.

So, with the spirit of "openness", I told my mother that my husband and I are seeing other people and that we are supportive of one another in these efforts. I mentioned the word "polyamory" to her, and she had never even heard of it. Her first thought was that we had become swingers, and I had to sit down and explain the differences. In any case, she is struggling to accept our choices, feels we are "setting a bad example" for our five year old daughter, and even showed up to one of my therapy sessions in order to confront me about it. It's causing a lot of tension in our day-to-day interactions, and I am not sure how to handle things.

I'm curious to know how others have handled discussing polyamory with their parents, and also to see if anyone has any advice. I am not going to base my life's decisions on the approval of my parents, but at the same time, the particular family arrangement we have requires us to live in harmony.

JnR 06-06-2011 05:49 PM

For my husband and I, we have chosen not to share this with our family and friends. A lot of people just can't wrap their mind around opening yourself to loving more than one person, they either see it as 'evil', wrong or playing with fire :) We had two very different experiences with opening up to people: One was to my brother, who had/has a negative reaction to it and I wish we had not told him, out of necessity we did but looking back, I just wish we had made up an elaborate lie :rolleyes: It has put a slight distance between us. The second one, my husband's daughter, was much more understanding and curious and can see the benefits to such a relationship.

So, my husband and I have just decided that the people in our life don't really need to know. And I don't want to make someone uncomfortable around me, just for the sake of coming out and telling people something that they really don't need to know :)

nycindie 06-06-2011 05:50 PM

I would have waited, personally, until I had some solid other relationships rather than when you're in the newbie dating stage trying to figure it all out yourself, but you already told her, so...

Did she ever know or find out about the affair you had?

You could pose it to her that way, you know, like: "Would you rather see me having an affair in secret and deceiving my husband, sneaking around so my children don't know where I really am? Or isn't it healthier to be honest and open with each other about what's going on?" And then be firm, "Look, I know this is something you object to, but I feel you are not making an attempt to understand. My husband and I love each other and have made this choice knowingly and willingly, and I would like to know I have your love and support even though you do not approve."

Terra 06-06-2011 05:55 PM

ncyindie- yes, she knew about the affair. In fact, she figured it out before I ever told her, as she knew him already and picked up on the vibes. She's always been hyper-intuitive about me and my life, and so I guess I figured she'd somehow mysteriously know anyway. What you suggested I tell her makes a lot of sense- I just stammered my way through the conversation. I was a miserable wreck when I was having the affair, and I feel 1,000 times better now that my husband and I are living our lives openly and ethically. I swear- there are people who have an easier time understanding an affair than with understanding polyamory.

Sounds like I have some boundary issues to work on, where she's concerned. I probably shouldn't have told her. I guess my thought was that "open" means that you have to be out with the entire world right away, and that's taking the definition a bit too literally. :(

transitapparent 06-06-2011 06:05 PM

it's possible that my parents might understand....possible, but a stretch... my wife's parents would disown us and probably send a preacher to our door. not good.

nycindie 06-06-2011 06:12 PM

I used to be really emotionally entwined with my mother. I used to feel like I would never grow up. My therapist used to say to me, "Go stand in front of a mirror naked. If you've got pubic hair, you're a grown-up." Haha, that was years ago before everyone shaved or waxed. But really, after a certain age, it is the best thing in the world to start seeing our parents as simply other people and to realize that we are adults who make our own decisions. You mother showing up at your therapy session was not only rude, but the height of imposing her beliefs on you -- and a flagrant disregard for your privacy and rights as a person making your own decisions. Doesn't matter if you came out of her womb, she had no right to insinuate herself into your session and I think only good stuff can come out of standing up to her!!

Minxxa 06-06-2011 07:53 PM

I think that because your mother is so intwined in your life, you likely would have had to say something sooner than most people anyway, and at that point it would have been because she "found out" something.

The fact is, you are an adult, and you and your husband have come to this decision together. I think it is time for a sit down to explain to her that while you value her opinions and the time you spend together as a family, that you are now an adult and she needs to respect that the choices you make may not be the choices she would make AND VICE VERSA. I think some people forget that their choices might not be "approved of" by all as well. :)

What did your therapist say when she showed up? Maybe you could have this discussion with your therapist there (if you feel like this would help), so that there's a third party to be objective.

AnnabelMore 06-07-2011 02:42 AM

I told my parents about my married girlfriend over a year ago and at the time my mom was pretty displeased and upset for me... she kept saying stuff like "You can see how a parent would want their daughter to find the one person she can be happy with." She didn't ask about my girlfriend for almost a year. Now she's gotten much more calm about the idea... I can bring my gf and she'll ask questions and actively seek to understand the situation. She is even open to getting dinner with her at some point.

Basically, her seeing that I'm still happy a year later and that nothing catastrophic has happened has made a biiiig difference.

LovingRadiance 06-07-2011 02:55 AM

My mother knew I had an affair with GG. She drove us to the hospital when I had an abortion. She didn't approve, but she knew.

When our dynamic became a poly dynamic, I was open with her. She has been very understanding-even though she is very religious and very monogamous.

The key I think is in having self-confidence in your decision. Also, it helps A LOT if it's a joint conversation. It's REALLY hard to say "we have decided to do this unusual, commonly unheard of thing which looks like it may be cheating, but really isn't" if it's not WE having the conversation. You know?

The biggest suggestion I have for you would be to give her some links (if she's computer friendly) or print it yourself on the topic.

Lovingmore.com might be a good start. Also, I can't recall the link, but Redpepper (on here) might know if you pm her, there is a lady "kiki" who has been doing blog posts on poly with kids. I know she posted one by me and one by RP recently. You might ask RP for that link and give it to your mom too, since she's expressed concern about your daughter.

Good luck!!

(fyi-if you want info about being out-feel free to pm me-we're out with pretty much everyone).

Meringue 06-07-2011 03:40 AM

I can't even imagine telling my parents about our open marriage. I can't imagine telling most of my friends, to be honest, although I've told a couple of them that I knew could handle the information. My parents are conservative and judgmental and there would be no end to the lectures about the sacredness of marriage (never mind that of the entire family, including my parents and 5 siblings, I'm the only one still on my first spouse).


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