How to Explain Non-Monogamy to Your Kids

3 min read
Mael Balland
Mael Balland

If you’re a parent exploring non-monogamy, you’ve got a major question to wrestle with: how and when is the best time to explain this to your children? Especially for people getting serious with more than one partner, it’s natural that your child will have questions and come to you for answers. Luckily, you’re not alone. A parent asked reddit for advice on this topic, and a lot of gems were shared.

The Background

User formyself2319 wrote in looking for advice regarding a sensitive situation. Here was the gist:

We are currently a Triad who are just starting into that phase, as I have yet to meet their child, and while my girlfriend has met mine, none of the children know about our relationships yet or how they work.

We cant’ do a big group discussion unfortunately as my Metamour and girlfriend are finishing the process for adopting their foster child, and don’t want to risk being poly causing it to be rejected.

How to Handle It

One user made an extremely salient point about how children learn what to consider “normal.”

Remember that children are not born with innate knowledge of our culture. All relationship styles are very new to them, and they’re fairly adaptable. It’s adults who get set in their ways. -PixieSarcasm

Another person recommended honesty combined with some advance preparation.

“Basically be honest about what love meant to them, and reassuring that they still very much loved each other and loved being a family. So honesty and reassurance are pretty big, I think! Maybe think about potential questions or arguments the kids might have ahead of time, and think about how you would best answer those questions and concerns.

Give them time and space to feel their own feelings, and if they are initially uncomfortable, it might be in your best interest to set up some boundaries or schedule in “bio parent” time so that they do not feel lost in the shuffle, and can have time to slowly adjust if that’s what they need!” -wonklywibble

Finally, one user shared a firsthand experience that was very reassuring, and provided a simple way to help explain.

When my wife and I opened up to our three (5, 9, 10) about our girlfriend, we led into the conversation with ‘do you guys like A?’ Once we had a unanimous yes, we focused on our oldest as she was at the stage if liking boys. We said ‘you know how you like like [name] at school? Well mommy and I like like A’. Our 9 year old understood on the same level, and our 5 year old didn’t get that. We told them that we want A to be our girlfriend.

It was very easy. They really didn’t have any questions as we’ve never pushed the idea that a man and woman are the only combination, and we quickly realized that we had never really pushed the two person relationship outside the act of being married.

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