Polyamory and the Impact on Children

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

My version of poly is unique as I imagine everyone’s is. I live in a duplex with my current husband, and two kids. My former husband lives on the other side of our duplex. My current husband’s kids live half the week with us. This is my version of a happily ever after Walt Disney movie.

But not everyone perceived it that way.

When my current husband tried to move his children in, his ex-wife took him to court to prevent her children from moving into my home. The main accusation against us was that we were polyamorous. A full evaluation of our living situation was ordered by the judge. We eventually won the case and husband #2’s children moved in. But it took over a year and tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees.

What the court case illuminated for me was alternative family situations, potentially considered “sexually deviant”—frightens people. The assumption being if you break one rule, you will break all the rules. You are ‘out of control’ and that might mean children being hurt. There was also another related assumption at play: since our sexuality was an important priority– we were negligent parents. None of these assumptions are true.

These are some of the things I’ve noticed in my unique family:

1) My kids are very comforted, knowing how much I still love their biological father

2) Happy parents are better parents, I am happy in my life and have more to give my kids

3) We still have “blended family issues” even though I thought we’d get to skip them.

4) Kids who are securely bonded to their parents—can handle change, and learning to handle change is an important life skill.

Around this time, I heard a quote by a family psychologist who stated, “Polyamory is not good because the children won’t know who their parents are.” This is one of the stupidest things that I’ve ever heard another human being utter. At the time, my kids were 5 and 10. Believe me, my kids know who their mother is—I am the one yelling at them to clean their room. Of course I am being facetious, but ignorant statements like this one abounded. In our American society it seems that prioritizing sex and good parenting are perceived as a contradiction.

Hilary Clinton coined the famous phase that ‘it takes a village to raise a child.” Our kids have four adults in their life: Husband #1 and his girlfriend, me and husband #2. We are all loving, smart people. We all have different gifts. Last year one of my kids needed extra help in a certain subject at school. I was so proud of my unique family. One parent recognized our child was struggling; another set up a study plan, a third got a physical to see if there was a vision issue, the fourth adult made the whole thing fun by finding creative study “games”. If this isn’t a village at its best—I don’t know what is.

At first my daughter (at age ten, she is now 14) was embarrassed when her friends came over. She was concerned as to how to “explain it”. But I figured all parents embarrass their kids at some time or another—why not do it in a way that really makes me happy. I have more emotional and physical resources to give my kids because of my chosen family. As a parent I want my children to have stability but I also want them to embrace transformation and growth. My kids have been challenged with the big changes our unique living situation created but they have learned how to manage life changes. We are modeling the best life has to offer family, community, diversity and of course—love.

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