For the past couple of years I've been interested in polyamorous
relationships. I can sincerely say after being in a monogamous marriage for
several years, I know that I'm not traditionally monogamous in the way our
culture sets the standard. One man and one woman just doesn't feel completely
true for me, so I've taken a leap into the unknown to discover where I land on
the spectrum between both choices.
I've found that most people think that sex with more than
one person is the focus of polyamorous lifestyles, but this is a very narrow
perspective. In actuality, polyamorous relationships are founded on the
conviction that one person is not responsible for meeting all of one's needs.
People involved in "poly" relationships embrace the reality that humans are
complex creatures who have a multiplicity of needs that can be addressed in
many ways by many people.
As a single mother who has taken on the responsibility to
meet the needs of my child solely, I'm seeing that "poly" relationships can
enhance my parenting experience as well. I recently spent several days with a
"poly" couple (a couple who has partners outside of their relationship) and
experienced the way they care for their children. From the perspective of being a single mom, there are 5 major benefits:
1. Shared responsibility
Currently in my home, I am my son's sole
provider. I do everything for him from making sure he cleans his bottom well to
monitoring his screen time. I also find myself doing things I don't feel are great choices for me, like skateboarding. (I'm a very strong
46-year-old, but if I fall off that thing, we have a problem!)
"poly" relationships, everyone offers their time and energy to the children.
One person prepares meals while the other does baths and bedtime. This may seem
like a typical traditional family experience that can be accomplished by two
adults, but the difference here is that the adults don't feel overextended and
wiped out. More hands mean more support.
"Poly" families have chosen to define relationships for themselves, offering children in these families other ways to see the world.
2. Creating open minds
The children in "poly" families seem to
have a different paradigm from which to create their perspective about the
world and relationships. While the culture offers very limited ways in which
adults should "do" marriage and sex, "poly" families have chosen to define
relationships for themselves, offering children in these families other ways to
see the world and what a family can be.
3. Open communication
Managing any relationship requires
communication in order to be successful, but this is even more true in "poly"
relationships. In the families I have witnessed, the participants are committed
to and practiced open lines of communication at all costs. There is a space and
place for every emotion to be felt, considered and processed. In my
experience, this is true for the children too.
"Poly" families tend to be
organized and work together to ensure that everyone is happy. There are often
clear agreements about family time, household responsibilities, finances,
collective duties and individual goals. Of course every family is different,
but in the "poly" families I've researched respect, responsibility and love
are highly valued. They seem to have mastered a certain organized freedom in
which everyone's individual needs and those of the group are attended to.
5. A broad experience
One of the greatest benefits to
children in "poly" families, at least to my mind, is the experience of getting
needs met from a variety of people. They often have more than two parental
figures, allowing them to experience and benefit from the skills of all the
adults. One mother figure may be good at listening and helping the children
process feelings, while another is great at playing games and engaging in fun
activities. No one person has to be their "everything." (Sorry, Andy Gibb!)
My time and experience with a "poly" family showed
me that adults can relate to more than one person openly, responsibly and
unconditionally. The participants are courageous enough to defy social
standards and create a lifestyle that meets their unique needs. They teach
their children that it's OK to be different, to take risks and to accept