"Scenes from a Group Marriage": A child of poly remembers
"I was a normal 9-year-old boy with two parents. And then, after a fateful camping trip, I had four," writes Laird Harrison in this morning's Salon (June 4, 2008).
One day in the summer of 1971, my parents held hands, closed their eyes and jumped out of their conventional marriage into something strange and new. I was 9 years old at the time, and we were camping at Betsy Lake in the High Unitas Wilderness with another family of five. We were halfway into the camping trip when the six of us kids realized our parents had mixed and matched: My father was in the tent with their mother, and their father was in the tent with my mother.
No sound came from either tent. I remember the smell of mosquito repellent. I remember gray ripples in the lake, squirrels scrambling up pine bark and us kids nervously discussing. I remember trying to believe my life hadn't shot off its safe, predictable tracks....
Read the whole article, and the comments.
"What about the kids?" is the most serious argument that polyamory is too dangerous to mess with, at least for couples raising kids. Does opening a marriage decrease, or increase, the chance of an otherwise unnecessary family breakup? What are the factors, in your particular marriage, for choosing and for handling it well after the choice is made? We need to address these things directly, both in public debates and in making our private life decisions.
And we need to hear more from the kids of polyamory. This article presents a mix of effects on one of them, both good and bad. When your own 9-year-old is grown the one you imagine isn't really paying attention what will he write in Salon about growing up with you?
P. S.: The only real study of outcomes for children raised in alternative-culture group marriages that I know about dates from way back in 1973 . Its conclusions match what people generally observe in the poly community today: that poly relationships are either neutral or positive for kids, in a household where the parents are good parents by the usual standards. But there's a real need for more studies here.
 Constantine, Larry L. and Constantine, Joan M. Group Marriage: A Study of Contemporary Multilateral Marriage. New York: Macmillan, 1973.