Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Meet Your Neighbors

Polly, a polyamorous mother, blogged recently on what she tells the kids about her orientation and how the kids handle it.

Well, our kids know as much about our sex life as any child would know about their parents' sex lives in a healthy family (whether monogamous or polyamorous). In other words, we have sex behind closed doors, and we don't walk around undressed, and we try not to disturb other members of the household with our sounds.

In other words, the polyamorous are normal people.

That said, we DO have reasonable conversations with our kids about sex. We talk about how babies are made, about how sex can be healthy and enjoyable even when not making babies, about protection and disease, about the consequences of being sexually active, and about when might be a healthy time to start having sex someday (you know... maybe when they turn 30 or so... ha!). We do our best not to make sex a taboo topic in our household. It's not a constant topic of conversation, by any means, but when the opportunity presents itself, we talk with our kids about the facts of life in an age-appropriate way. And we answer questions openly and honestly.

Sounds like good parenting regardless of orientation.

They ask, "Is he your friend?" Naturally, I say, "Yes, he's my friend," but I don't stop there. I say that I love him the way that I love their dad, and that I don't love everyone that way. Essentially, I'm telling them what many people don't seem to understand right away: "Poly" does not mean "Any."

That should be repeated. "Poly" does not mean "Any" – despite what bigots say.

Kids are smarter than many people give them credit for. They "get it" when it comes to polyamory, and it really hasn't fazed them at all. I also acknowledge with my children that not everybody has two partners, and that we might be a little strange to some people. I tell them that not everyone might like that I love two people, and they might not be nice about it.

The younger generations support freedom and equality. But they also know not everyone does.

I let my kids decide if they want to tell their friends about polyamory.

It is too bad they have to hold back at all.

Kids don't have the power to decide who will be welcomed into a family. Parents, therefore, need to be cautious and careful and slow about deciding who will be around their children, and the roles that are ascribed to various family members. I think kids deserve a certain level of stability in their lives, and a lot of change when it comes to their parents' partners can be stressful.

This is the case in any adult relationships, whether serial monogamy or polyamory.

As Polly explained, they have refrained from coming out to some of their neighbors. That is probably the case for many people engaging in polyamory, or consanguineous relationships, for that matter. That means that if you’ve expressed prejudice towards these forms of love, then you could be living next to people who are enjoying them and not even know it. They don’t want to tell you because they don’t want to deal with bigotry. Your prejudice hurts.
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