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Old 07-12-2014, 06:29 PM
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kdt26417 kdt26417 is offline
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Default What about the Kids?

It's odd for a childless person like myself to be starting a topic like this, and I wouldn't be surprised if threads along these lines already exist, but I kind of wanted to start a new one using my own perspective.

I've been hearing (on Polyamory.com) a few horror stories about poly situations causing damage to the kids in the household, and a few assertions that poly just isn't good for kids. For example these articles:
FullofLove1052's blog has lately been discussing the damage to her own (five-year-old) daughter, and the efforts everyone's making to undo the damage. The article links above are drawn from that discussion.

With that backdrop in mind, I want to ask: Do you think polyamory is bad for the kids? I ask this especially of poly people who are raising kids, and of people who have been kids in a poly household, but I'm also interested in the thoughts and opinions of the childless-and-raised-in-monogamous-homes people out there.

What problems do you think poly can potentially cause for the kids?

Can those problems be prevented? If so, how?

Would/could some of you compose a list of do's and don'ts for this thread, about how to care for the kids as a poly adult?

How many cases do you know of where there are kids in a poly household? Are you very familiar with some of those situations?

Do you know of many success stories about poly childrearing?

Do you know of many horror stories about poly childrearing?

Which type of story do you know the most of, success or horror? or is it about 50/50?

Is poly living a selfish choice that puts the kids in second place? Does any parent have any business subjecting their kids to a poly environment?

It's because I'm childless (and was raised monogamous) that I have to ask these questions. I don't have the kind of knowledge and expertise I'd need to tackle these questions myself.

My perception so far is that poly is usually about as good for the kids as it is for the adults. That is, if the adults handle themselves wisely and foster a positive poly experience, the kids will usually experience a poly environment as a positive thing. However, one crucial thing poly parents must do is communicate often with their kids to find out about the kids' feelings and needs.

I believe the adults need to be united in 100% mutual consent about being poly and how the poly dynamics are handled, otherwise contention will arise between the adults and that will sour the experience for the children.

It seems like the kids should be the ones to decide, for instance, whether Mommy's new girlfriend will become their second Mommy. Do you agree? Are there exceptions to this rule?

I imagine that some homes with kids simply aren't suited for either parent being poly. This could be for any number of reasons, e.g.
  • one of the parents simply can't tolerate polyamory,
  • poly takes a lot of time and your kids need your time,
  • any number of other reasons.
I think there's a need nowadays to talk about how poly affects the children (and why). Share with me, if you're willing, your thoughts on this important subject.
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Old 07-12-2014, 08:42 PM
bookbug bookbug is offline
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I haven't yet read the threads you referenced, but my parents had poly relationships when I was a kid of 10 -12 years old. I loved it! I loved having the extra adult around. I felt like I had another resource; I felt more secure. One of their lovers had a child. As an only child, I got a kick out of having another kid in the house. For me as a child, it was a good experience.

On the flip side, I have no children either.
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Old 07-12-2014, 08:50 PM
Inyourendo Inyourendo is offline
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No i don't think poly is bad for kids. My 15 year old says he's most likely going to practice Polyamory and he's read some books. His good friend down the road is a poly bisexual teen who has a boyfriend and girlfriend so it's not really out of the norm around here. As long as kids are being raised around healthy loving relationships the dynamic really doesn't matter
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Old 07-12-2014, 10:03 PM
FullofLove1052 FullofLove1052 is offline
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And what a mess I made. You asked very valid questions. I do not think you have to have children to wonder about these things.

Quote:
With that backdrop in mind, I want to ask: Do you think polyamory is bad for the kids? I ask this especially of poly people who are raising kids, and of people who have been kids in a poly household, but I'm also interested in the thoughts and opinions of the childless-and-raised-in-monogamous-homes people out there.
It can be good or bad. It is not for my youngest daughter, and my oldest's therapist has advised against telling her anything about my past. I have no doubt it can be fine for other children. It depends on the people doing it and how they do it.

Quote:
What problems do you think poly can potentially cause for the kids?
Society and children can be quite cruel. Bullying is a problem, and yes, parents may want to be out but let's keep it real, some of these little brats pick on anything outside of the norm. Children have a hard enough time without their parents causing issues. I went to school with the most pretentious people, and some of them were bloody cruel. I feel compelled to protect my children and not be the cause that they suffer at the hands of others.

In my case, my lack of availability caused me not to have a relationship with my child. I had no time to take from my career. I had no time to take from family/friends because they only saw me at funerals and weddings. I had no time to take from Matt. Newborns and romance do not go hand in hand. Who did I cut time from to meet the other relationship's needs? My child because she was the only person taking up all of my time. I could not be in two places, and I was gone more often than not. She believes I loved my ex more than her and that I chose my ex over her. She talks down on herself and legitimately believes she was not good enough to warrant me spending time with her. I have to live with that. Child or not. Resilient or not. The damage has been in motion since she was 1-2. Damage control? Years late.

Quote:
Can those problems be prevented? If so, how?
Prioritise your children and remember that they have needs like your partners. Know that if being out caused issues in your life, it might cause issues for your own child, too. Being children does not mean they are shielded from criticism, fighting your battles, or society's disapproval of anything that is a little different.

Quote:
Would/could some of you compose a list of do's and don'ts for this thread, about how to care for the kids as a poly adult?
Entirely too many to type. Do not think that love and attention from anyone are just enough. My child had love/attention from everyone but the one person she wanted and needed it from: me. Remember that children have needs, too.

Quote:
How many cases do you know of where there are kids in a poly household? Are you very familiar with some of those situations?
One. I have cut almost everyone who is poly off. That situation used to be seamless, but everything that sparkles is not a diamond.

Quote:
Do you know of many success stories about poly childrearing?
Same as above.

Quote:
Do you know of many horror stories about poly childrearing?
Outside of my own? None. I am the first. Congratulations to me for failing to parent well, right?

Quote:
Which type of story do you know the most of, success or horror? or is it about 50/50?
50/50.

Quote:
Is poly living a selfish choice that puts the kids in second place? Does any parent have any business subjecting their kids to a poly environment?
I was selfish. My child was in second place. I foolishly thought, "Independence is good. My child needs to learn to miss me. She will not notice if I am gone." Rubbish. The whole lot of it. I have no damn business being a mum and poly. Conflict of interest is not even the half of it. I raise my glass to those who do it successfully. That will never be me.

Quote:
My perception so far is that poly is usually about as good for the kids as it is for the adults. That is, if the adults handle themselves wisely and foster a positive poly experience, the kids will usually experience a poly environment as a positive thing. However, one crucial thing poly parents must do is communicate often with their kids to find out about the kids' feelings and needs.
Let the choir say, "Amen." I will admit to being dismissive and thinking, "You are just a child. Your feelings will change." Mummy dearest knows best.

Quote:
I believe the adults need to be united in 100% mutual consent about being poly and how the poly dynamics are handled, otherwise contention will arise between the adults and that will sour the experience for the children.
Mmhm.

Quote:
It seems like the kids should be the ones to decide, for instance, whether Mommy's new girlfriend will become their second Mommy. Do you agree? Are there exceptions to this rule?
Case by case basis. I would never teach a child to call somebody mum or daddy. If they are old enough, let them decide what type of relationship they desire. My ex had no business being a parent. I failed to protect my child because I introduced someone like that into her life. My child was taught that is who she was, but I can honestly say she never loved her or considered her to be a second mum. It was unnatural and not how she viewed her. Conflict comes to mind. We all know my husband despised the idea of three parents. She only said she loved her because she thought it was expected of her and because God says we have to love everyone. For example, I never called my mum's dad, "Grandfather," because he was never that to me outside of DNA. I called him James because that was more comfortable. Children should have the option.

Quote:
I imagine that some homes with kids simply aren't suited for either parent being poly. This could be for any number of reasons, e.g.
  • one of the parents simply can't tolerate polyamory,
  • poly takes a lot of time and your kids need your time,
  • any number of other reasons.
Mmhm.
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Old 07-12-2014, 11:14 PM
KerryRen KerryRen is offline
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Ah. Hmm.... Probably going to ramble as I chase my thoughts with a keyboard.

Within my marriage with Liam, we have three minor children. Liam has three grown children from his past marriage. Jai has one minor child and two grown children.

I've introduced Jai to my oldest, because, well, he was there at the time. I've met all of Jai's children, but that was about 10-12 years ago. Liam's children know me, of course.

Mostly I think children don't want to think about their parents' relationships, even in the clear cut Mom/Dad one. Adding a third or more parent into the mix doesn't necessarily have to be vast weirdness -- no odder than a step-parent relationship, certainly -- but it's not a move to make without being sure that everyone is in it for a long haul. Stability and consistency are also important.

As things are now, we're pretty much keeping our separate families separate. This may change, or may not. We prioritize the children, and that's as it should be, IMHO, even if it occasionally inconveniences things.
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Old 07-12-2014, 11:16 PM
Inyourendo Inyourendo is offline
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I agree that poly saturation should come into play with children involved. Children should get quality time with parents.

If one parent is intolerant to poly then that factors in. A child shoulpro o infamydn't grow up in a home full of strife because the parents can't agree on poly. If one parent is mono and intolerant then it's probably best the poly parent abstains or they part ways.
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Old 07-12-2014, 11:31 PM
bookbug bookbug is offline
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Just read "I Hate that My Parents are Poly." Well, duh! They have put their daughter in an untenable situation - openly poly while enrolling her in a Catholic school? Of course that is going to make it nearly impossible for the child.

As I said, I don't have children, but in the relationship I was in last, the couple i was with had children. I was fully willing to remain a secret so we wouldn't make the children's lives any more difficult than they already are. To me, to do otherwise would have been selfish.
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Last edited by bookbug; 07-12-2014 at 11:32 PM. Reason: Clarity
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Old 07-12-2014, 11:56 PM
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In my humble opinion, I think more damage is done to kids raised in monogamous homes, where a strict "monogamy is the only 'good' way!" party line is forced upon them.

Most poly situations I have ever heard of or come across put out a "CAN love many" vibe, not a "MUST love many" one.
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Old 07-13-2014, 12:48 AM
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kdt26417 kdt26417 is offline
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Thanks for the responses guys. I believe this is quite an important topic and I'm glad we're talking about it.

@ FullofLove1052 ... thanks for your input! Crud, I forgot to mention that monogamous points of view are quite welcome too (and sought after) in this thread.

I'm sorry about the way things turned out for you and your five-year-old (and Matt too come to think of it). I liked everything you said in your post and thought it was very prudent. Thank you for being candid about your experience and feelings.

I think we can observe that children can start being affected by poly (for better or worse) at a very early age. As you said Ry, one or two years is old enough.

One of the biggest things that is jumping out at me is the problem of whether or not to "stay in the closet," considering the interests of your child. If the child is old enough to understand the discussion, he/she should probably be allowed to have a vote/say in whether the parents (and their girlfriends/boyfriends) will out themselves. The child should be warned that, "If we tell people, there will be some people who won't be very nice to us about it. You could get picked on at school. Are you sure you'd want to do that?"

If the child is too young to understand the discussion (e.g. a toddler), the poly dynamic should probably be kept in the closet until the child becomes old enough to understand -- and old enough to have a say in it.

Re (from bookbug):
Quote:
"I don't have children, but in the relationship I was in last, the couple I was with had children. I was fully willing to remain a secret so we wouldn't make the children's lives any more difficult than they already are. To me, to do otherwise would have been selfish."
Kudos and well said.

But there's a complication. If you tell your child (in an age-appropriate way) that you're poly, isn't there a worry that kids aren't always good at keeping secrets? How do you manage the possibility that your child will (accidentally) out you? Alternatively, do you wait til your kids are in their teens or late teens before telling them? Would that even be so easy to do? Kids are usually pretty good at picking up on things ...

---

I'm encouraged to hear some of the positive stories about kids in poly homes. I do want to make sure that the negative stories get their due airtime also. That was one of my objectives in starting this thread. I wanted to set up a fair playing field.

Re (from KerryRen):
Quote:
"Adding a third or more parent into the mix doesn't necessarily have to be vast weirdness -- no odder than a step-parent relationship, certainly -- but it's not a move to make without being sure that everyone is in it for a long haul. Stability and consistency are also important."
Well said.

Re (from Inyourendo):
Quote:
"A child shouldn't grow up in a home full of strife because the parents can't agree on poly. If one parent is mono and intolerant then it's probably best the poly parent abstains or they part ways."
I think you're right.

Re (from RichardInTN):
Quote:
"I think more damage is done to kids raised in monogamous homes, where a strict, 'Monogamy is the only "good" way!' party line is forced upon them."
Interesting way to look at it ...
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Old 07-13-2014, 02:47 AM
FullofLove1052 FullofLove1052 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bookbug View Post
Just read "I Hate that My Parents are Poly." Well, duh! They have put their daughter in an untenable situation - openly poly while enrolling her in a Catholic school? Of course that is going to make it nearly impossible for the child.
I can understand the choice of school. The best schools here are religious schools. My youngest daughter is currently attending an Anglican school, and I was not keen on her attending a religious school. However, I wanted her to have the best education and be a well-rounded student. Education is serious here. My son was accepted into a school that has a waiting list of 10+ years for certain entry points. The Dean of Admissions jokingly tells prospective parents to add their children to the waiting list while they are still in the womb. I knew in advance that even if I was to date again, being out at her school was not an option. I was not willing to sacrifice her education or chance at success for my own selfish wants or desire to be out. Being out has nothing to do with her, though. Thus, if I had to give off the impression of being mono at her school, so be it. I have to do the same thing with Matt's job and colleagues.

Quote:
As I said, I don't have children, but in the relationship I was in last, the couple i was with had children. I was fully willing to remain a secret so we wouldn't make the children's lives any more difficult than they already are. To me, to do otherwise would have been selfish.
Interesting. If you do not mind me asking, how old were the children?

@Kevin -- Right. A 1-2 year old cannot say, "Hey. You are not spending enough time with me," or tell you that they need you/have needs that are going unmet. Sadly, some children are forgotten. It is probably not intentional, but if mummy and daddy are both caught up in NRE and neglecting each other, what are the odds that they are not spending as much time with the child(ren) as well? The only saving grace was my daughter had stability with Matt because he did not want her going back and forth.

I am on the fence about how much a child should know and when. Every child is different. My oldest knows nothing about anything I did relationship wise. I will never tell her. She only knows of my ex as a friend, and she only knows about Kensi because my youngest daughter referred to her as mummy's "friend." My son will never know anything either. My youngest daughter was old enough to know some, and I feel like that was too much too soon. Admittedly, I put her in an untenable situation.

I do like the idea of a cautionary chat with the option. I can admit that though I am a parent, I do not know everything. Sometimes I do not know what is best, and I would rather listen to my children and hear them out.

The one thing I do disagree with is exposing my children to a lot of people. I am never one to tell others how to parent. I do want my children to know that while they will lose people in life, it should not be expected all the time. I just feel like that can breed unhealthy attitudes towards people and relationships. I do not want my children to think, "Oh well. I lost Timmy as a friend. No big deal. I can replace him because he was expendable." I also accept that children will lose relatives and people close to them, but I want to minimise what I can. I cannot stop grandparents from dying, but if I was dating, it should not and would be a requirement for that person to ever have contact with my children. I disagree with new partners being introduced as parents and flaking out when the romantic relationship with the child's parent fizzles out. Children crave stability and consistency. If a person takes on the role of being a parent, keep them in that role. I dislike those parents who cut off a person and refuse to allow that once parental figure to have contact to the child because they are titty hurt by the end of the romantic relationship. In that case, do what is best for your child and stifle your feelings unless their presence is detrimental to the child.
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