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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

When Polyamorists Become Parents

Red Peril writes on parenting and polyamory at More Than Nuclear. In this entry, Red addresses "But what about the children?" She mentions being subjected to insults because of her sexual and relationship orientation.
The assumption is that although it may be one thing to be non-monogamous without children, if you decide to start a family, it's really time to put all that aside and just be normal, for the sake of the children.

With that in mind, my theory about the spectrum of acceptance of alternative lifestyles runs broadly along these lines:
  1. Your way of life is immoral and you disgust me (no acceptance).
  2. What consenting adults do behind closed doors is okay, but don't rub my nose in it in public.
  3. I have no problem with you or your way of life, but I think that all children need one mother and one father, so you shouldn't ever have children.
  4. How you live, who you are or what you have chosen may or may not be for me, but it shouldn't prevent you from the same range of possible participation in society that everyone else has (full acceptance).
That's a good way of putting in as basic terms as possible.

Elizabeth Sheff has conducted some of the most extensive research into polyamorous parenting so far, and one of her interesting findings is that far from being confused or by their non-traditional families, children aged 5-8 with three or more parents barely seem to even notice. Children are pretty self-centred, and so how the adults in their life relate to each other isn't particularly important to them. "A 6-year-old may not think of someone as mommy's girlfriend, but think of that person as 'the one who brings Legos' or 'the one who takes me out to ice cream," Sheff explains. To think about it another way, if you had close relationships as a child with non-parental members of your biological family, how much thought did you give to the fact that your uncle was your mother's brother, or your grandmother was your father's mother? I'm willing to bet that that was far less important and interesting than the time the two of you spent together, and the bond that was personal to you.
Read the rest here.

How can it be bad for a child to see adults behaving is a loving, friendly, and cooperative way with each other? How can it be bad for a child to have more adults being a positive influence on their lives? As with monogamous parents, this is all subject to the adults being kind and loving people, rather than abusers or otherwise toxic. In some cultures, including some Western ones, it has long been standard (or used to be) for children to grow up with more than three adults in the home, especially grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

Imagine if people were more honest and rather than claiming children are going to have a problem with their parents' relationships, they simply admitted, "I don't get it" or "I'm uncomfortable with the thought of this?"
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