There are so many different types of families. Families with multiple moms, multiple dads, grandparents, and so much more. There are also relationships with multiple sets of parents in one household, polyamorous relationships.
These AskReddit users share what its like to be a child of, or a person in, a polyamorous relationship.
1. Lots of love
My childhood felt typical. I had a dad and a mom, and they had a girlfriend that lived with us. Their girlfriend did not really act as a parent to me. It was more like having one of my parent’s friends around all the time. Being a child without any concept of sexuality (until puberty), it seemed pretty normal to me that my dad would smooch my mom and then smooch Janet when he left or came home. It just looked like love and it never bothered me. Kids at school didn’t really know about it. My parents tended to tone it down around my friends.
There was a lot of love in our home. That’s pretty much the only thing that seemed different to me. Compared to my friends whose parents were divorced or always fighting, I wouldn’t change a thing about how I grew up or my parents’ poly relationship.
2. Walls up
That’s pretty much exactly how my parents were. Over the course of 15 years, my dad had three significant girlfriends (at different times) all while he was still married to my mom. It just seemed normal to me. It wasn’t until 6th grade that I realized that everyone else’s family wasn’t like mine. Around that time, my friends all of a sudden weren’t allowed to come over to my house anymore, which is because their parents had found out about Kelly, my dad’s GF at the time. I don’t have any qualms with what my parents did. They were always very open and honest about the whole thing with us kids. But the way everyone else reacted felt like terrible to me as a child. It forced me to get pretty good at lying and taught me to put walls up and not to trust others, which is probably the most negative thing about the whole situation.
3. Messy ending
From around 7 to 17, my parents were in a polyamorous relationship of sorts. It was my mother, my father, and another woman who I’ll call “D”. She lived in the house with us and was romantically involved with my mother at least. She did sort of act as a third parent in many ways and, throughout most of that time, I would say I had a happy and loving childhood. I didn’t feel strange about it, and I don’t remember ever being teased until I got older, so I would just tell my friends she was my parents’ friend who was living with us. When she left, my mother was very upset and did not want her to communicate with my sister and I anymore, so I have not heard from her in years. I’m 24 now, and my parents divorced about 3 years ago.
4. Soul mate
My dad has a few wives. I have a lot of half brothers and sisters. I don’t like it one bit. He doesn’t treat my mom well. I was always embarrassed about it when I reached high school. I never told anyone about it. Hope we can get out of it soon and away from his control. Personally, I don’t like the lifestyle, but that is just me. I know this is corny and cheesy, but I hope I find my true love/ soul mate one day. I want to have fun too.
5. Something more normal
I was in a polyamorous relationship for a couple years with a woman who already had kids. Her other partner lived in another country so it didn’t feel as ‘wrong’ to me. I’m pretty vanilla. The kids themselves were various ages, up to 18, and they were all used to their mother’s lifestyle and were open to different sexualities. When you grow up with it and your mother is frank and open about it then it seems to work. It seemed to work for them, but it just wasn’t for me. I hung around because I genuinely cared about the mother, but I wanted something more ‘normal’ in the end. I hope it worked out for her in the end.
6. 3 Parents
I have friends in a triad who have a couple of young kids. From what I’ve seen, it’s like having three parents, which is great for them. The kids probably don’t think so though. Having an extra parent means a lot fewer incidences of no one remembering to ask if they’ve done their homework and cleaned their room before they’re allowed to play video games. Those kids almost never got away with anything (and not for lack of trying).
7. Another person for pickup
Not my parents, but I was a daycare worker for some poly parents. There was this lady (who had three kids) her husband and her girlfriend, and they all lived in the same house. I had no idea how to address their relationship, so I never did. It did confuse me at first because the lady was obviously in a relationship with her husband and with her girlfriend but, in the end, it doesn’t matter. The kids had just another person who could pick them up from daycare.
8. Long term
My parents were in a long-term polyamorous relationship while I was growing up. I didn’t really realize it, and once I did, I think I just blocked it out cause it was normal.
When I was 8 and my little brother 5, one of my parent’s friends was visiting more often and that was cool. Then, she started staying with us a lot, in the spare room, and that was cool too. We liked her. Eventually, she moved in and so did her cat. I liked her cat. She always had her own room although she never seemed to spend too much time in it, I didn’t question it.
She was our border as far as I was concerned. It was completely normal to have another random adult just live with us and be semi aunt/parent/thing ish because she paid board you know? It was a business arrangement. My dad tried to talk to me about it once, but we’re both very awkward people and we got awkward over it, so I blocked it from my memory.
Eventually, they broke up. It was at about the same time that I was moving out of the house at 18. She’d been part of my life for 10 or so years. I still keep in touch occasionally. We even had a good chat a few months after it happened where we talked about it from her point of view, how she’d always said coming in that we were a family unit and if anything happened she always knew it would be her that would have to leave. I don’t know all of the details, and I don’t really want to.
My parents have a new lady now that they’re seeing, a few years later. They introduced her one day when I went round. “Hey, you know how X was a thing? Well, this is Y, and she’s a new similar thing.” Doesn’t live with them. Is a cool woman. Happy for them if it makes them happy.