Since I started this column a handful of months ago, there has been quite the mixed reaction to polyamory from our dear readers. A lot disagree with me, but we have insightful and engaging conversations, some don’t like me at all and that’s fine too. One of the most interesting reactions that has caught my attention as well as that of Mommyish followers is the teen that popped up to write about her poly parents.
First off, let me say I sincerely feel for Anonymous Kid with poly parents. Not in the respect that her parents are polyamorous, but how it seems they have dealt with her as their child. For me, my kids come first, and it’s glaringly obvious from the article that she not only isn’t first in her family, but she doesn’t even know where she stands. I read her holiday article with compassion and also my own children in mind, and came up with some ways a poly life could be better for a kid at the holidays (or always.)
Anonymous kid states “One would think by now where the holidays are spent would be squared away…..no two years were the same”. Right there, I would call a general parenting flaw that crops up all too often in this era of divorces, moves cross-country, and alternative household arrangements. A lot of children, like my own grade schooler, thrive on structure and consistency. We have routines for dinnertime and bedtimes and quiet time. This even affects my poly relationship in the sense that we recently set our schedules so my spouse and I are always home together on Tuesday and Thursday nights, with one of us dating only on Monday, Wednesday or Friday.
You can bet this applies even more to the holidays. Each year since our marriage ten years ago Allan and I have struggled with the amount of gatherings and people we were expected to attend to. We both have divorced parents and large extended families and everyone always wanted us to be everywhere. As the years went on and our holiday sanity lessened while our number of children grew, we cut down the number of places we were willing to be. This year, we will have one small gathering with Allan’s father, sister and her family and grandma; one with my father and stepmother; and one with my mother. That’s three down from what use to be six, and will keep us and our children sane and happy.
How will being poly effect the above? It won’t. I’ll make plans to see Jim and exchange Christmas gifts, perhaps he’ll come by at some point with gifts for my kids, but it ends there.I cannot fathom dragging the kids around to a bunch of people they don’t know or care much about every year.
This is something Anonymous Kid notes she doesn’t have that I want for my kids and I won’t let my being poly change. I feel like every kid deserves a stocking and a gift exchange tradition. Heck, I want to make Anonymous Kid a stocking and mail it to her.
We actually don’t do much of a “Santa” thing at our house (that’s an article for another time. I don’t personally subscribe to fictional character traditions) but we do put on Christmas music and decorate the tree, just the five of us. We hang stockings, including one for the dog, and all wake up early Christmas morning to open gifts together.
Thinking about my being poly affecting any of that, makes me cringe. It reminds me of a time I was about seventeen and I bailed on my parents and sister decorating the tree to be with my boyfriend. My big sister was pretty mad at me, and rightly so. Family comes first, and I’m going to teach my kids that too.
(Image: getty images)
This relates a little back to stability, but also deserves its own place. I want my children to feel like they are surrounded by people who love and support them and they know will be there.
Going back a few years, before I was even poly, my mom got back together with her ex, my two youngest never met him. When they divorced, I had decided to keep her ex from my child because it was best for my little boy, who was barely two. When my mom and he got back together, it took some long and hard discussions to allow the kids to develop relationships with him. I did not want people to become important to my children and then disappear out of their lives, the way it sounds like Anonymous Kid’s parents have done to her with poly partners.
How this relates to poly and the holidays for me is that the kids will only be seeing their family at holiday celebrations. Just like we won’t be visiting the families of my close friends, we won’t be going to the homes of “poly family” relatives either.
If Jim, who is the only long-term secondary partner one of us has right now, brings the kids a small gift it will be because he cares about them and they enjoy his company. He will be involved in their Christmas to a small extent because they like him and would appreciate the gesture, not because he has to as my poly partner.
As the children grow older, Allan and I would talk to them about how comfortable they are with us including partners in a holiday celebration. Could we reach a time where we had our partners at a holiday gathering at our house? I’m not sure, because as of right now I don’t think even Allan himself is comfortable with that. What is important to both of us is that the kids know and love their family of relatives, and it’s just a little pleasantry that they happen to like Jim too.
So I wish everyone the happiest of holidays, and hope to continue the banter and discussion and that this gave everyone a little insight to the different styles of poly families.