Originally Posted by WhatHappened
My further question would be, since you wish as a child you'd had more concrete answers, what concrete answers are you thinking of giving a 4 year old? To tell her directly this is Karma's girlfriend? What does 'girlfriend' mean to this 4 year old? When she asks, do you intend to go on to tell her it means the two of them have sex?
I get the feeling there's almost an eagerness to Discuss Poly with this little girl; an eagerness on the part of you, karma, your brother, and his wife, to Be Open-Minded and Teach Open-Mindedness. My feeling is that no matter how precocious a 4 year old is, no matter how intelligent, she is still a very young child. Sometimes, as adults, we can say, "She's a friend," and "We'll talk about that when you're older." I work with kids, and have a great deal of experience with kids this age. Take what you want from my thoughts.
I think it's weird that you equate "girlfriend" with "sex." Do you think the 4-year-old will think of sex when she hears "girlfriend?" Would you feel differently if a monogamous person was introducing their long-term girlfriend to a child? When I became serious with Fly, and especially moved in with him, he didn't tell his son (who was around 3 when I moved in) "This is who Daddy has sex with." He told him, "This is someone Daddy loves, this is my girlfriend." Fly and I are not getting married, so I will always be the girlfriend.
It's a huge difference between introducing kids to your fuck buddies, vs. the people you love. I think it's demeaning to the partner to be introduced as just a friend, and demeaning to the child to believe they can't handle understanding that people create their own families. I also think it's an admirable thing to want to teach tolerance and open-mindedness. Looking at what goes on in the world, it's my belief that more children need to be taught those values.
I also work with young children, and have for decades. It's important to not give them information beyond their developmental capabilities, but there are a lot of ways to convey big concepts to kids without using words or ideas that are adult in nature. In my opinion, it's never wrong to teach children that it's ok to love people, and that families are all different and all valid and valuable.