Adam (PolyN00b) is a 30 year old, bisexual man living happily in an FMF triad with hetaera and independently happy. His other writings can be seen at http://bisocialnews.com.
Here's the story.
Of a lovely lady.
She was bringing up three very lovely girls.
We know the rest - this lovely lady meets a man raising three boys. They merge their families to become the most famous mixed family in history. In the episodes of The Brady Bunch it was never all that clear what happened to the original Mrs. Brady, or who was the real father of Marsha, Jan and Cindy. Nonetheless, the new family seemed to live happily enough in their sit-com world where touching music always precludes a life lesson about to be learned and their problems were solved in thirty minutes. Would those problems have been so easily solved if Mike and Carol were raising their children with the help of their erstwhile spouses? Polyamory brings the same challenges as any relationship; however, they are arguably more challenging than the more "traditional" relationship model. This includes the addition of children.
Raising children is one of the most difficult life challenges ever conceived. Raising children that are not your own is exponentially more difficult. The simple mathematics would suggest that having more than two adults involved in the raising of children would be wonderful. Imagine, for example, if there were three parents and three children. In a perfect one to one ratio, the children are constantly being paid attention to, and always engaged. When the family goes on trips there is one parent to watch each child. Situations such as childcare become second nature as there is always an adult able to watch the children and scheduling conflicts are much simpler to navigate. As with most things, this is something that sounds good on paper but is significantly less black and white in practice.
Children have their own moods, emotions, and yes, desires too. This in and of itself comes as no surprise. Children are prone to demand what they want - or who they want. A child might be best friends with a man that isn't his father one moment but be fearful of the same man when he's angry. After all, what child doesn't fear discipline? In those moments its mommy that they reach for and in a world like today's, we live in constant fear of what is the right or wrong thing to do involving children that are not ours biologically. The days of Mike and Carol Brady have gone, replaced by a much harsher reality. In the eyes of some The Rising Polyamorous Culture Is Out to Get Your Children.
One might wonder, what happens when you ask the children? These children that everyone seems to be fighting for, when it's put to them that they are in a situation less "traditional" than their friends; do they even notice? A four year old, when told that he should be nice to his mommy because he only has one mommy, his response is quite telling. "I have two mommies. Mommy "B" and Mommy "C". He doesn't seem to be phased by the fact that he has two mommies. The immediate argument, of course, would be that the innocence of a child precludes their ability to understand - and the counter argument to follow would indicate that children know. Children have an ability to sense a bad energy, not unlike the instinct of an animal to seek shelter in a storm - a biological imperative to protect themselves. This sort of point and counterpoint could go on for years and is, in this writer's opinion, counterproductive.
The more important information, widely recognized by all, is that children are like a sponge and they are likely to absorb to whatever you expose them. Two examples taken from real life: a child's father, for example, throws something at his son's mother, then the boy is likely to absorb that information and may even decide that this is a healthy way to deal with anger; or worse, that it is okay to treat women this way. The child's "step"-father, on the other hand, explains to his son, on the way to dinner that it is important to keep promises because that's what men do, then the child is likely to absorb that information and may even decide, when he is a grown man, that keeping promises is something he should do. The overall crux of the situation is that children will model the behaviors they see. Many child psychologists have made thousands researching this.
The moral question before us is, should a child be aware of the lifestyle and relationship model of his parents? A column such as this is ill fit to answer such a question and in fact, it would be proper to say that the answer will vary according to situation. The life of the polyamorous family is as varied as the polyamorous lifestyle itself. Many poly families have multiple mommies, each with their own children, who have blended to form a loving, bonded family. They may also have multiple daddies or even multiple mommies and daddies. In today's world with today's technology a child may even have three biological parents. Within the female, male, female triad a man and woman can conceive a child and through in vitro fertilization their shared girlfriend can carry the child - a child born of three parents.
Still, in this realm of futuristic technology and political correctness and the fight for what's "right" and best and moral for the future leaders of our world, we very well may be overstating the issue. Perhaps it is as simple as this: children are bonded to their parents. Volumes of books have been written about the infant-parent bonding process. More volumes of books have been written on the best way for adults to bond with children that are not their own by birth.
Children will never allow a usurper to take the place of mommy or of daddy. No matter how much they may like them. They'll sit next to "new daddy" and cuddle and watch a movie - they'll go to the store with "new daddy" and share in the experience of playing and running and learning the things that men do, they'll even learn what men do from "new daddy" but make no mistake, when they're scared at night - when they need someone to check under the bed for bad guys its always going to be mommy they cry for to hold them when they're scared. Daddy will be the one to check for the monsters. "New daddy" no matter how much he loves them, will always watch in quiet support of what's best for their non-biological child.
Posted on Polyamorous Percolations 17 January 2010 16:33