The first blog in this series addressed the conditions that influence parents to come out to their children
as polyamorous, or not. This second in the series
offers tips to parents who have decided to come out to their kids,
and the third [will provide] guidance about how to manage
information about CNM in children’s lives. The series closes with
a fourth about how parents in CNM relationships can support their
child/ren’s social health.
You may want to tell your child about your polyamorous
relationship, especially if you have decided that: your child is
old enough to understand; your partner is relevant to your child’s
life, and; your family is safe enough that it will not be
imperiled if your child mentions your polyamorous relationship to
your boss, friend, or father-in-law. If your child asks questions
about your relationship, that indicates that they are old enough
to understand at least a simple answer.
Many polyamorous parents in my Longitudinal Polyamorous Family Study (LPFS)
reported that they waited for their children to ask
questions about their relationships, and then answered kids’
questions with honest, age-appropriate information. Others felt
that it was important to bring up their polyamorous relationships
with one or all of their children because the kids might have
noticed and the parents did not want the kids to think there was a
secret that they had to keep from the other parent. Still other
parents in the LPFS got outed to their children and/or other
people by circumstances or other's intent.
No matter how you choose to inform the kids or they find out,
there are a few suggestions from the LPFS that could offer some
guidance on talking to kids about polyamory. These include being
age appropriate, askable, matter of fact, and honest, plus a few
tips on what to say. ...
Be Age Appropriate....
...While some families
have secrets they are not allowed to talk about, the families in
the LPFS generally allowed their kids to ask any question, about
anything that occurred to them. Sometimes the adults would say
that was a private thing or they would talk about it later, but
the kids never got in trouble for asking about anything. This set
the stage for the kids to ask their parents questions about what
was happening in the family.
Be Matter of Fact....
Honesty is a hallmark of polyamorous relationships, and parents in
the LPFS reported that it trickled down from their interactions
with their romantic and polyaffective partners to influence their
parenting. Parents told their kids the truth, and the kids
appreciated it and often responded in kind. This was true of
discussing polyamory as well. When children would ask their
parents who are these other people, parents would explain honestly
in a way that made sense to the kids at that age. Overall this
method had the best results, as a couple of the kids in the LPFS
reported that they did not get enough information from their
parents (for good reason in each case) and were left in
uncomfortable confusion for a while until they figured it out
What to Say?...
In addition to being honest and age appropriate, polyamorous
parents and their children in the LPFS both reported that less is