We thank you, Lucy, Carol, Ellen and Kate for every inspirational triumph of the spirit.
1) Love is love.
I think we can all agree that the most vital thing for a child to grow up around is love.
I’m talking about the kind of reliable, respectful-yet-ferocious parental love that doesn’t involve too much enmeshment or co-dependency, allows for individuation but is also tribal in nature. (Ok, it doesn’t always go like that but it’s a beautiful ideal that can, at times, be felt most powerfully.)
If a parent is able to offer this to their child, then they can do so regardless of their sexual or romantic preferences, whether they are divorced, re-coupled, a-sexual, polyamorous, non-monogamous or just love wearing leg-warmers and gloves during sex!
A parent’s love for their kid, when delivered safely and sanely, is about as disconnected from their sexuality as it is from their political leanings, their choice of hobby or what kind of car they enjoy driving.
2) Stability doesn’t require sameness.
After love, I’d say the most important element for a child to grow up into what I like to call a functionally-dysfunctional person (i. e. any healthy, interesting human who is truly alive to feeling) is stability.
Here’s where we non-monogamous folk start getting angsty.
For starters, monogamy hardly equals security, particularly since the research shows that 68-75% of people admit to some kind of cheating (which I’d call non-consensual non-monogamy). Surely it’s this kind of deception, rather than anything more considered and exposed, is toxic for children to be around?
Secondly, some adults (particularly those who fear or criticise polyamorous family set-ups) think of stability as being about maintaining a consistent external environment, with as little room for challenge or difference as possible.
To my mind however, my son’s sense of stability will grow naturally provided his parents can offer him age-appropriate honesty about where we are and who we are in what kind of relationship with; that we maintain strong (but not impenetrable) boundaries and; that we ensure he feels zero threat of abandonment from us, ever.
Under these conditions I feel fairly confident that when life throws inevitable challenges his way, he’ll cope well, thanks to a strong sense of inner stability gleaned from a loving, attuned start in life with parents who were very much good enough, regardless of who they were sleeping or snuggling with.
3) Difference can be positive.
Turns out, according to some of the research, it can actually be a bonus for children to grow up in blended or polyamorous family set-ups!
Researcher, expert witness and Relationship Coach, Dr. Elisabeth “Eli” Sheff is author of The Polyamorists Next Door: Inside Multiple-Partner Relationships and Families, which details the results of the first 15-years of her study of polyamorous families and includes interviews with 206 people in polyamorous families, 37 of them children.
“Looking at these kids overall I would say that they are equally, if not more, emotionally healthy and articulate and self-aware than their peers. They’ve been growing up marinated in personal growth and honesty and talking communication and being exposed to a wider range of ideas.”
Boom. I love that quote.
Next time I tell someone about our more unusual set-up and they respond with: “What about your son?” I’ll say: “He’s over there, just marinating in honesty. Now would you like a cup of tea?”
What's your take?
About Lucy Fry www.lucyfry.co.uk
Lucy Fry is writer and speaker from London, England. Her memoir, Easier Ways To Say I Love You, is published by Myriad Editions in February 2020 and tackles themes such as non-monogamy, polyamory, addiction and motherhood. She is also author of ‘Run, Ride, Sink or Swim – a year in the exhilarating and addictive world of women’s triathlon’ published by Faber & Faber in both UK (2015) and USA (2017) and shortlisted for the New Writer Award at Cross Sports Book Awards (2016). Lucy has written widely for various UK publications The Times, Telegraph, Guardian, Mail on Sunday, Women’s Health, Psychologies Magazine and Stylist. She has also been fitness columnist at Sunday Telegraph, fitness-travel-trends columnist at Easy Jet Traveller Magazine and travel editor for Diva Magazine. She has appeared on various radio stations including BBC Radio One, Radio Two, Radio London, Radio Oxford and BBC World Service. She has spoken at Ways With Words Literary Festival, Belfast Book Festival, The Triathlon Show and most recently delivered a 30-minute talk on emotional strength at a Stylist Magazine event held at AllBright women’s private members’ club London. Lucy is also studying to become a psychotherapist. Follow Lucy on twitter @lucycfry