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Polyamorous Families Are Just Like Us

Photograph by Getty Images

According to a report in the Scientific American, nearly 5 percent of Americans are involved in polyamorous relationships—relationships that are consensually nonmonogamous. In that same article, the benefits of such an arrangement are also touted, even as most of us shake our heads at the thought of having multiple partners who are all in agreement about the arrangement.

Although there remains a certain taboo surrounding the freestyle love lives of polyamorous partners, women like Sierra Black, a 34-year-old blogger and mom from Massachusetts, find that sharing the love has not affected her life in a negative way.

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“Even my earliest relationships were nonmonogamous in high school,” Black remembers. “I was introduced to the word 'polyamory' shortly after graduating from college, and it made my life so much better to know there was a community of people already doing these things. Suddenly I had friends and allies and didn't have to reinvent the wheel when it came to my relationships.”

Luckily, Sierra had a support system for her controversial love style, while other people who engage in the polyamorous lifestyle have to hide their relationships for fear of ostracism from family members and society. Sierra believes that her family is healthy and thriving, and she blogs about her adventures and misadventures on her blog ChildWild.

"What they know is that they are loved by everyone in their lives, and that their parents love each other and are totally committed to our family." –blogger and polyamorist Sierra Black

Sierra and her husband Martin are the parents of a 19-year-old stepson, an 8-year-old daughter and a 5-year-old daughter. Sierra and Martin share the work and joys of raising their children in a way that probably doesn’t look much different from most families. She is a stay-at-home mom while Martin works at a nearby university. Sierra’s girlfriend, Molly, has a daughter and all of the kids are close friends who go to school together. Sierra says she often picks them all up from school so they can play together in the afternoons.

“It's important to me that my kids know they can make their own choices and follow their hearts when it comes to love and sexuality,” Black says. “They're still quite young, so we haven't talked about a lot of these things explicitly. What they know is that they are loved by everyone in their lives, and that their parents love each other and are totally committed to our family.”

Sierra has lots of love in her life represented by multiple partners. All of her partners are a part of her children’s lives as friends and mentors. “They don't parent them, but they take them on field trips, or join us for family dinner and board games, or teach them new skills,” Black shares. “Their relationships are very individual. I have one partner who has played D&D with me and my stepson for years, and another who tells the kids elaborate stories whenever he sees them.”

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The most common reaction to polyamory would be one of disbelief and criticism, something discussed within Polyamory Meetup groups across the United States (whose numbers have topped 200 in 2013). “I think you can learn a lot from looking at how polyamorous people [interact in] their relationships, even if what you ultimately want is to be monogamous,” Black says.

“We have all these big cultural scripts about love and relationships, and polyamory really invites you to break those down and choose what works for you," explains Black. "It really comes down to respect, trust, love and communication. I think anyone who knows us sees us having a thriving, healthy family, and that tends to leave a very positive impression.”

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