"Why I'm Honest With My Kids About My Open Relationship"
How out to be about your polyamory to your children, and at what age, and why, are perennial topics in poly discussions.
The usual conclusions: Yes, starting young, with careful age-appropriateness, for their own self-assurance and yours.
If your situation, and your kids' situation, allow it. Kids are different, and the world's pressures can be real and complicated — though your fear may exaggerate them.
The topic has made a mainstream splash in the last two weeks as Gracie X — author of Wide Open: My Adventures in Polyamory, Open Marriage, and Loving on My Own Terms (New Harbinger, 2015) — is getting a lot of publicity for the book in the British and New York tabloid press and elsewhere, and on British TV (with an incorrect title). This sudden attention comes from press-agentry by Barcroft Media, a leading supplier of publicity material and clickbait to mass media worldwide.
Part of Barcroft's media package was this nice video of her with her husband and two kids, 11 and 16 (3:47):
Some versions of the newspaper story that Barcroft prompted came out better than others. The UK's free Metro paper (1.3 million daily copies distributed on public transit) treated the subject quite sympathetically:
Why this mum says having sex outside of her marriage makes her a better mother
By Ellen Scott
When it comes to teaching your kids to have a healthy attitude to sex, it’s all about being open and honest.
For Gracie X, that means telling her daughter about her polyamorous lifestyle upfront, and making sure there are no secrets when it comes to extramarital sex.
Gracie is part of an ethical non-monogamy community, meaning that she and her husband can have sex outside of their marriage with each other’s full knowledge and consent.
She’s also a writer, pilates teacher, and mum to 16-year-old Tallulah and 11-year-old Merlin — and she says that being non-monogamous has allowed her to be a better mother to her children.
Gracie opened her marriage with first husband, Hank, six years ago. The couple invited a man called Oz and his two children to live with them, followed by Hank’s girlfriend, Valerie, who also moved into the family home.
Eventually Gracie grew closer to Oz and Hank grew closer to Valerie, so the couple split. Gracie eventually married Oz and they moved to California together, where they continue to have an ethically non-monogamous relationship.
Gracie hasn’t hidden any of this from her children.
She says that being non-monogamous has made her a better parent and a better wife, mostly because it’s made her a happier person.
...And being non-monogamous has helped Gracie and Oz’s relationship to thrive, too.
‘Knowing that your husband is a separate sexual being is a great way of keeping the relationship alive,’ explains Gracie.
‘It makes us closer and after we’ve been with another person the passion between us when we come back together is unbelievable.
So the relationship is good for Gracie and good for Oz – but how does it affect Gracie’s children?
Gracie X, pictured with husband Oz and daughter Tallulah, 16, says that being non-monogamous makes her a better parent. (Picture: Barcroft Media)
Her daughter, Tallulah, backs up the idea that Gracie’s open attitude to sex has made their relationship better.
‘I was about ten or 11 and my parents sat me down and they told me they are going to start having special friends,’ she explained.
‘It took some getting used to but now I think being polyamorous makes her a better mother because she’s happy.
‘It’s like she’s not focused on controlling my life because she has her own life and she’s happy in her relationship.
Gracie understands that the lifestyle is not for everyone, and doesn’t expect everyone to be on board. But she hopes that by sharing her experiences with her book, Wide Open; My Adventures in Polyamory, Open Marriage and Loving on My Own Terms, she’ll be able to encourage other people to accept her choices and embrace sex positivity.
‘I love and trust my husband and we’re very open about what we’re doing, and we set parameters that we’re both comfortable with,’ says Gracie.
‘Some people are critical with the way we live but it suits us and I’ve never been happier.
‘Ethical non-monogamy is a sex-positive world; sex is seen as normal, it’s seen as healthy. I’m a sex positive parent.’
The whole piece (June 22, 2016).
The lowbrow Daily Mail (June 21) and New York Post (June 22) ran somewhat longer versions of it. The Post led its piece by calling her "a redheaded Northern California firecracker who dons black catsuits with kinky boots." Both ran lots of good-looking professional photography from Barcroft. The story has also appeared in the UK's tabloid Mirror and Daily Star, India Today, Ireland's Sunday World, La Capital in Argentina, SDP Noticias in Mexico, and surely elsewhere.
Then on Wednesday the daytime British TV show "This Morning" (on the ITV network) broadcast a 7-minute remote interview with her and her husband Oz (June 29). The interview is excellent, much better that the promo vid above, IMO:
However, the show falsely titled the segment "Having Sex With Strangers Makes Me A Better Mum" and left that title onscreen below her for the entire seven minutes! She doesn't have sex with strangers and never said she does, though the title is phrased as a direct quote. She has complained to the producers. I think she has excellent grounds to sue ITV or at least to force a public, on-air retraction and apology.
Meanwhile, much more about poly and kids has been appearing in smaller media several steps above the tabloids and daytime TV. Roundup coming in a future post.