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-   -   How do you tell someone else's kids? (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=47699)

Mohegan 05-25-2013 02:37 AM

How do you tell someone else's kids?
 
I've spent a good while searching around and am not finding exactly what I am looking for. My 4yr old niece recently met Pixi. For those who haven't read our blogs, Pixi is my husband Karma's g/f of a few months. My brother and his wife have known and supported us in this adventure from day one three years ago. Originally we all decided that we wouldn't discuss it with the kids until they asked questions. At the time my niece was barely a yr old and my nephew wasn't even thought of yet so we had time.

We did fun touristy things while they were in town and obeying my brothers wishes, Karma and Pixi didn't have any PDAs while we were all together. My niece picked up on Pixi being an important part of lives anyway, which is great fine and wonderful. Except that right now she thinks Pixi is our maid. They had just watched The Help and somehow that's what her little 4 yr old mind equated with Pixi. Including asking if Pixi lived in our garage (we figured this out today after she watched it again and said "See mommy they live in the garage.")

After laughing for quite awhile my sister in law said that they are obviously going to have to talk with her, especially because we are moving closer and Pixi will inevitably be spending more time with them. We've all agreed from day one to be honest and never lie to the kids about our difference in religion (they are very christian and we are pagan) or about poly. She wants to sit down as a family to discuss it with my niece, so that she sees that we are all on the same page.

I obviously plan on letting them take the lead as she is their daughter. But their only experience with poly is us. As I said they are very christian and while they love and support us, to them our way of life is 'technically' wrong. They won't, I have no doubt, approach it from a wrong or hate kind of direction. But none of us are exactly sure how to go about explaining things.

So how do you explain poly to a 4yr old that isn't yours, but is a huge part of your life? Do we just say Uncle Karma loves two people, and see if she has questions? How deep do we go with the answers to those questions.

I guess my biggest worry is that we want her to grow up open minded and accepting of people who live differently than her, but we (I) also don't want to contradict the religion she is being raised in and cause her inner turmoil long before she's really old enough to grasp it.

Not having children of my own, but holding a degree in early childhood education, I am aware that an honest straightforward answer is best. What I'm not sure of is how much is too much info at that age?

Any advice, anecdotes, ideas will be greatly appreciated as this new territory for all of us.

Dagferi 05-25-2013 02:41 AM

You don't have to get into the nitty gritty with a 4 yo. You answer honestly but simply.

You just tell her Pixi is Karma's girlfriend. If there is more questions then you answer them at a 4 yo level.

My kids are 10 and 6. Honestly they kind of just rolled with it. My 10 yo has asked a few extra questions. I answered honestly and in a manner he could understand. When he asked how I can love Murf and their dad Butch. I asked if he loved all three of our dogs. He said yes. I said do you love them the same. He said no. Then I asked do you love one more than another. He answered no. Then I said you can love people the same way.

JaneQSmythe 05-25-2013 02:49 AM

You may be interested in my post about when my nephew sprung his "DO you have two husbands?" question on me - here in my Notebook blog (and reading GG's reply there).

Our friends' kids don't seem to notice that we have an "extra" as at friend-type functions there are always extraneous adults, but at family-type functions it's a bit more obvious that the friend/family line is being crossed.

I would definitely let the kids parents take the lead...since you are out with them (we are not out to my family per se) you could ask them how they would like to present things...as long as it doesn't directly conflict with your values you could choose to just back what they choose to say.

Just my thoughts.

JaneQ

Mohegan 05-25-2013 03:04 AM

Thank you both. I really appreciate the peace of mind knowing I was on the right track. She is ridiculously intelligent and perceptive (which of course has us all frightened for her teenage years) so I wouldn't be surprised if she's already put it together and just isn't sure how to equate it to what she already knows about families.

She also asked that day if Uncle Karma and I were married which led to the garage comment.

I have no issue letting my brother and sister in law lead the talk, but I have a good feeling Karma and I will be the ones explaining it if there are questions.

This has also pushed forward our coming out to my parents. It's been something I planned on doing anyway, but now it's a must. Whatever my niece knows, YaYa will hear about. I'm thinking of taking my mom out to dinner and discussing it with her when we are in town next.

So I'm guessing the best approach is that Uncle Karma has a wife and a girlfriend and while that's not how every family lives, it's good for us (or something to that effect) and seeing if she has questions.

LovingRadiance 05-25-2013 04:01 AM

I like the "we love more than one person" line with little ones-because they inherently understand that since they love more than one person & sex isnt part of their repertoire yet.
But the "this is my gf" line works well also.
We have 4 kids, a precocious and inquisitive grandson, 10 neices/nephews & 2 kids who regularly visit.

I have always let their question lead the depth of my answer, but either of the above mentioned starting points works great ( I have used both ).

Magdlyn 05-25-2013 02:02 PM

It's funny, the only kid I've needed to talk to lately about my relationship status is the little girl I sit for, who is 6, extremely intelligent and precocious.

However, in the 2 years I've known her, she hasnt even been able to wrap her head around the idea that I am divorced. She claims that all the kids she knows in school have a mommy and a daddy. Even when I said sometimes kids have just a mommy, or a mom and dad that live separately, she rejects the concept.

(She did not reject the idea that kids could have 2 mommies though, and once had a wedding for two of her Barbies.)

I talked to her often of my "best friend" miss pixi, and more recently, my friend Ginger. And now she (and her parents) know that I just moved in with miss pixi. I am sure her parents suspect miss p is more to me than a friend, but no one has ever asked any questions... and I don't talk about Ginger to her parents.

For the record, the dad is Christian and the mom is Hindu, but I do not know if how they practice involves intolerance for queers or other alternative type people.

In your case, if explaining your polyness to their kid makes your relatives question the assumption that Christianity is ipso facto hetero and mono, it's a good thing.

WhatHappened 05-25-2013 11:41 PM

I appreciate that Karma and pixi respected your brother's wishes in what to expose his child too.

Why do your brother and his wife want you, Karma, and pixi involved in this discussion with their daughter? I know you said so she sees you're all on the same page, but what exactly does that mean? You're all on the same page in what way? In that you all agree as to what's going on or what this arrangement is or what to call it? That all the adults involved agree to it or approve of it?

I'll be honest, I see what to tell her as really something her parents ought to be deciding. But why not simply say, "She's a good friend?" It's not really important to a 4 year old to know that she's his 'girlfriend.'

nycindie 05-26-2013 07:29 AM

When I was little and used to visit my great-grandparents, I was told that the man who lived with them was a "family friend" or sometimes their "boarder" (he slept in the second bedroom). I didn't find out until I was in my 30s that he was my great-grandmother's boyfriend, after one of my grandmother's cousins told me. Then a lot of things clicked in place in my mind! But I know that I never thought anything strange about them all living together when I was a kid, and no one in my immediate family made it out to be anything weird to us, so we just never paid the situation any mind. This was back in the mid- through late-1960s, btw.

polywindsor 05-26-2013 03:17 PM

I tend to agree with most of the answers on here. I have explained to my neice and nephews and even to my own children that I love both of my partners equaly just as they love grandma and papa equally and that with out my family ( including the people I love) I wouldn't be whole. Just because your religions are different doesn't mean both don't have the concept of family being close and loving. If you make it about that rather then religious views it should help keep her turmoil of good and bad; right and wrong out of her young mind. Perhaps if you explain it similar to a pet (ie they wernt born into the family but you love them and they you and therefor they are apart of the family)n thus also negating the need to discus sex with a 4 year old. Noone can tell you what's right and wrong so maybe just decide to go with her parents tell her, answer questions honnestly but simply. I hope these suggestions help.

Mohegan 05-27-2013 06:44 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by WhatHappened (Post 206504)
I appreciate that Karma and pixi respected your brother's wishes in what to expose his child too.

Why do your brother and his wife want you, Karma, and pixi involved in this discussion with their daughter? I know you said so she sees you're all on the same page, but what exactly does that mean? You're all on the same page in what way? In that you all agree as to what's going on or what this arrangement is or what to call it? That all the adults involved agree to it or approve of it?

I'll be honest, I see what to tell her as really something her parents ought to be deciding. But why not simply say, "She's a good friend?" It's not really important to a 4 year old to know that she's his 'girlfriend.'

Pixi won't be there, it will be my brother and his wife and Karma and I. For my brother and I it's because there were always a lot of secrets in our family. There was a lot of don't tell so and so this, or things that were blatantly obvious but never discussed. It left us very confused and with a lot of wounds to heal as adults. We agreed early on that we would never raise our kids that way and if there was a family matter to be discussed then the whole of those involved would be there. Due to logistics of place and time, Pixi won't be involved in the discussion, but I imagine she will be for future questions or conversations.

It's also because poly is something they have only experienced through us and they want to make sure she knows that we're available to her for questions.

If she were at a true 4 yr old level I'd agree that just telling her Pixi is a good friend would be fine. But she's already putting pieces together and they want to give her facts not leave it up to assumption. A lot of that comes from how we were raised. We had an 'aunt' that lived with our parents from before I was born until I was in 5th grade. There's been plenty of speculation on our parts but no actual answers to our questions. We don't want the kids growing up and questioning things and feeling like they can't ask questions about it.


Quote:

Originally Posted by nycindie (Post 206584)
When I was little and used to visit my great-grandparents, I was told that the man who lived with them was a "family friend" or sometimes their "boarder" (he slept in the second bedroom). I didn't find out until I was in my 30s that he was my great-grandmother's boyfriend, after one of my grandmother's cousins told me. Then a lot of things clicked in place in my mind! But I know that I never thought anything strange about them all living together when I was a kid, and no one in my immediate family made it out to be anything weird to us, so we just never paid the situation any mind. This was back in the mid- through late-1960s, btw.

That's actually pretty close to how our 'aunt' mentioned above was. My brother and I have always speculated though. For as long as I can remember we would have talks about it, but any time we got up the courage to ask we were never given a straight answer. To this day we only have speculation and a few old letters from when my dad was stationed out of state, to go on. We really don't want the kids to live in that speculation question limbo. We'd rather be up front with them.(this goes for my brother and his wife as well as karma and I)

Quote:

Originally Posted by polywindsor (Post 206606)
I tend to agree with most of the answers on here. I have explained to my neice and nephews and even to my own children that I love both of my partners equaly just as they love grandma and papa equally and that with out my family ( including the people I love) I wouldn't be whole. Just because your religions are different doesn't mean both don't have the concept of family being close and loving. If you make it about that rather then religious views it should help keep her turmoil of good and bad; right and wrong out of her young mind. Perhaps if you explain it similar to a pet (ie they wernt born into the family but you love them and they you and therefor they are apart of the family)n thus also negating the need to discus sex with a 4 year old. Noone can tell you what's right and wrong so maybe just decide to go with her parents tell her, answer questions honnestly but simply. I hope these suggestions help.

You're absolutely right on the religion front and I really like how you presented it. The religion aspect has been a hang up for all of us. They want and encourage us to be honest with the kids about our religious differences and hope to use that to instill in them the importance of acceptance and having an open mind. But in the same vein they also want to make sure the kids understand that it's not something their religion believes in. I want to respect their beliefs and the beliefs they are raising the kids in simply because that's who I am, but also because they have been so supportive and accepting I want to do the same in return. Your explanation will definitely help with that. Thank you.


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