Originally published at
It is often asserted in the poly community that the poly household is the ideal household in which to rear a child. I rather dislike the assertion. It is my strong opinion that the ideal child-rearing situation has less to do with the form of the family and considerably more to do with the character of the individuals in the family. Poly households actually have a few strikes against them. The first is the fact that relationships take time and maintenance – this includes the relationships you have with your children. When you are dealing with multiple romantic relationships, especially when you are not in a closed group and might be adding people to your romantic circle, you are facing an enormous amount of emotional energy. Keep this in mind as a parent. It is all too easy to get sucked into the high levels of emotion one gets in many romantic relationships. Make sure you are working on the relationship with your child, too. A psychologist who appeared as part of a polyamorous show on the John Walsh show once expressed concern about the formation of a poly family and the amount of adult processing that would go on.
She was right. There is a lot of processing that goes on in a poly family.
Know what else?
The second strike against poly households is the hard fact that it is the very rare poly family that will stay together long enough to rear a child. While many people will argue that relationship longevity is not the sole measure of relationship success (and I agree), the simple truth is that it takes 18-20 years to rear a child. Can you name a poly family that has lasted that long. Sure, some exist, but they’re the rarity. Say what you like, but divorce and the stress that leads up to people wanting to break up in the first place is hard on kids. If you’re forming a poly family, you owe it to everyone, including yourself, to keep your relationships in the best order you can.
The last strike is out of individual control in a lot of ways. Poly marriages, especially if you’re a parent, are not accepted very well by the Powers That Be. Since this is so, there’s an added pressure as a parent to Do Things Right.
With all this being the case, what are the real advantages of rearing a child in a poly household?
- If the household is child-centered you will actually have more freedom for personal development. You see, if you’re careful about committing a good amount of time to the kids and your spice do the same , the kids really do get more attention than they would with a monogamous couple and still leave the adults with more freedom
- Variety. When all the parents are committed, there is a lot of discussion going on about the job of being a parent. That being so, the different points of view contribute to a more carefully considered parenting strategy, as well as a higher quality of care. Please notice the commitment caveat. If there’s the idea that the child is someone else in the household’s problem, this won’t work .
What it boils down to in any parenting situation is so simple – commitment. Are you committed to the welfare of the children. Do you focus on being as wise as you can manage (no-one is perfect, of course!) in dealing with these developing people? If you’re doing this, the family form doesn’t matter so much. It’s all about you and your individual interaction with your kids.