Polyamory and Children

If ever I were to defend polyamory it would be on the grounds that consenting adults should be allowed to sleep with whomever they please. Throw kids into the mix, however:

In theory, I should be writing another post on pregnancy. If I tried in this exhausted state, what would come out is my own emotions and reactions to my experiences of pregnancy in polyamorous relationships, not all of which were good. I guess if I were to sum up the badness it would be: it was difficult and hurtful for a woman who was supposed to be part of a quad with me, to want me to have nothing to do with her pregnancy, and then want to be heavily involved in my own pregnancy later that same year. Of course, that whole relationship was a disaster. None of us handled the situation well, and a lot of people were very hurt before it ended.

Imagine my surprise.

Probably the one who was hurt the most was my husband, who left the relationship, left behind me, his brother, and the two children of his heart who he now never sees, living half way across the country. Thankfully, and due to a series of very messed up circumstances, involving extended family, Division of Youth and Family Services, and a messed up legal system, the children had been living with my parents and had barely seen him for a year, as well as being young enough that now, three years later, they barely remember him, so they weren’t nearly as hurt as they could have been by his leaving. Though, sometimes, a few times a year maybe, my daughter asks for him.

This did not come out of a clear blue sky: it is a direct consquence of involving children in a polyamorous lifestyle. How do you think these kids are going to turn out?

And I suppose if this post has a point, that should be it. There are no legal ties to the children of our poly partners. And if things end, it can be so easy to walk away, so much less hurtful to leave them behind rather then see them constantly and be reminded of what we lost.

Well, yes. If the descriptions of polyamorous relationships are anything to go by, being able to just walk out the door with no responsibility is one of the primary attractions of the lifestyle. What you are describing is a feature, not a bug.

But if we chose to bring children into a polyam relationship, whether we are the biological parents or not, we have a responsibility to them.

If that were true you’d be keeping children well out of it. Instead, you choose to satisfy your own lifestyle desires first and try to shoehorn the kids in around them.

I hear it said so often in polyam forums that a relationship that ends is not a failure if it simply ran its course and everyone moved on . . . but, when you bring children in, whether they are born into the relationship, or brought in from previous relationships, we owe it to them not to let the end of a relationship with our partners, take us away from the children who also have a relationship with us.

So what’s the priority here? Your sex life or the wellbeing of the children? If the latter, why bring them into the lifestyle at all?

There is a little girl who called me her parent, and whose face lights up whenever she sees me, who is not allowed to spend time with me.

/facepalm

There are two children sleeping upstairs who have a father they will probably never see again.

/bangs head on desk

This is wrong, and I cannot change it. But I can hope and pray that those of you who read this, will do everything in your power to make sure these things never happen to the children in your life.

Because our children deserve better than this.

Yes, they do. So quit the polyamory, find a proper partner, and build a normal, stable environment to raise them in.

The more I read about polyamorous relationships the more I realise they are underpinned by a staggering degree of selfishness on the part of everyone involved. Except the kids, of course; they have no choice in it.

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16 thoughts on “Polyamory and Children

  1. “Thankfully, and due to a series of very messed up circumstances, involving extended family, Division of Youth and Family Services, and a messed up legal system, the children had been living with my parents and had barely seen him for a year”

    Note the long list of “People To Blame” and the one glaring omission from it.

  2. I’m not following the link (work, y’see), but from the excerpts I’m unclear on who was in this relationship:

    Is the author in a relationship with the deserting man, his brother, and some other chick? Are the kids in question those of the brother and the other woman?

    It’s likely that the deserter decided he needed a life where he wasn’t spending time just trying to separate an family tree from it’s current cats-cradle-esque state.

    Having said all that- kids are pretty malleable entities: a friend of my wife has separated from her (utterly useless) husband. I saw the kids last week- they seem happier than before. Perhaps that’ll be the case here.

    That outcome will only come about, I suspect, if they stay at the grandparents, though.

  3. Is the author in a relationship with the deserting man, his brother, and some other chick? Are the kids in question those of the brother and the other woman?

    I have no idea, it doesn’t say. I’d imagine I’d struggle to understand it even with a proper description and a diagram.

  4. Send it off to Ritchie- he likes Venn Diagrams. Perhaps one of those may be better than a traditional family tree:

    Circle 1- People who think having multiple partners is good thing
    Circle 2- Men with low IQ’s
    Circle 3- Vulnerable women
    Circle 4- Innocent bystanders and children
    Circle 5- People who are easily influenced by articles in Slate
    Circle 6- People who perpetuate cycles of victimisation
    Circle 7- Long suffering normal people/relatives who pick up the shit after it all falls apart
    Circle 8 ……..actually, this is less a Venn diagram, more like a slinky.

  5. The more I read about polyamorous relationships the more I realise they are underpinned by a staggering degree of selfishness on the part of everyone involved.

    I don’t mean to be a dick, here, man, but seriously: you’re just getting this now?

    Societies evolve family structures in response to outside pressures. Any time someone decides to throw away a convention that’s been established as successful for hundreds of years, it bears careful scrutiny. And when sex is involved, you can start with the assumption that this is about “I want to get laid without consequences”.

  6. The Ottoman harem worked well. Well, for the sultan. I doubt the sistas were as keen, knowing that only one son would be sultan and the rest put in a sack, beaten to death and dumped in the Bosphorous.
    But hey, we’re all sistas now.

  7. Does “children of the heart” have a technical meaning in poly circles? If it simply meant “biological children”, I suspect the word “children” alone would have been employed.

  8. Think my own views on this, just a tad to the left of Attila the Hun, are best left underexpressed.

  9. I don’t mean to be a dick, here, man, but seriously: you’re just getting this now?

    Heh, no. I’m a Brit, understatements are what we do best.

    Any time someone decides to throw away a convention that’s been established as successful for hundreds of years, it bears careful scrutiny.

    Absolutely.

  10. Does “children of the heart” have a technical meaning in poly circles?

    Step-kids, basically. But you can’t expect the oh-so-edgy polyamorists to be using conventional terminology, can you? That would be so square!

  11. Does anyone in a polyamorous relationship really have any idea who the father of any offspring might be? I expect that any confusion makes walking away from ‘your’ children easier.

  12. MC,

    I think all but the No. 1 partner is supposed to use contraception. I’m sure you can imagine how well that works out considering the sort of mentality that gets you into such a lifestyle in the first place.

    The poly woman I knew had to force her husband to wear condoms with her because she found out he wasn’t bothering to do so with his other partners. Lovely.

  13. Step-kids, basically. But you can’t expect the oh-so-edgy polyamorists to be using conventional terminology, can you? That would be so square!

    Well, step-kids only applies if there’s an actual legal marriage in the mix, which there often isn’t. “Children of the heart” is a term of art referring to children brought into or produced in a poly relationship that you are not biologically related to.

    I think all but the No. 1 partner is supposed to use contraception.

    Serious poly people wank on a lot about “fluid bonding”, which is about preventing the spread of disease more than preventing the spread of children. People who are “fluid bonded” agree to only share bodily fluids with each other and no one else. This is orthogonal to contraception. The assumption is that everyone is using birth control. When it comes to the intentional production of children, every poly group is its own thing with its own rules.

    If this all sounds like a complete cluster f*ck, well.

  14. Hello Tim,

    Please pardon a comment on your general views from a frequent reader; it is very reassuring to notice that your comments on personal life are solid, sound and seem firmly based on reality rather than perhaps somewhat influenced by some far fetched theories or liberal ‘mumbo jumbo’…

    War?

    Despite intense propaganda, most women only engage in a serious relationship unless heavily influenced / in an altered state of mind ie trance.

    But perhaps practizes that are detrimental to happy family life and the bringing up of harmonious children can be beneficial in warlike situations?

    When heavy losses are imminent (in groups the size we humans used to live in), perhaps priorities are different and can make sense?

    And these mechanisms of course are triggered and exploited by sick and twisted people… Peculiar that main stream media/culture can promote all kinds of shiite and the proponents still be treated like respectable citizens…

    It would be interesting to read your take on this theory… (probably covered some were in litterature that I have not come across…)

  15. And these mechanisms of course are triggered and exploited by sick and twisted people… Peculiar that main stream media/culture can promote all kinds of shiite and the proponents still be treated like respectable citizens…

    It’s an interesting theory, but from what I can tell from the few polyamorists I have spoken to and those that write online, they are in it mainly for the sex – they’re basically fucking around – but want the veneer of respectability that comes with being in a normal relationship. See here, for example.

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