Polyamory is All Good Fun Until Someone Puts an Eye Out

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By Maria Padhila

That is the age-old warning, from parents to children, from grandparents to parents, from parents to other parents. We’re in a time and place where parent-on-parent judging is a contact sport, if not a blood one. In my neighborhood, if your toddler isn’t spilling the organic version of goldfish crackers into the sandbox, you may get child protective services called on you.

Poly Paradise at Burning Man. Photo by Eric.

Which is the other big threat levied at parents who don’t toe the line. Do one thing wrong, and Judgy McHolier over there will drop a dime, and They Will Come Take Your Kids Away.

It probably happens about as often as someone putting an eye out on a playground. I don’t know about where you live, but where I live, social services are stretched pretty thin and those workers can barely keep up with the obvious cases of abuse and neglect, to sometimes tragic results.

But it still lingers in the back of my mind: If they find out I have a husband and a lover, that’s it. They’ll take her away. Or my husband, if he gets angry or jealous, will be the one making the call. Or his parents, or mine, or our siblings. All in the name of doing what’s right for the child.

One funny thing is that Isaac’s mother — for whom I have a lot of respect and admiration, but no, no, no, she does not know our deep secret! — has a master’s in a family service field and believes from experience and observations that families are best kept together unless there’s a clear danger. She is a kitchen-scrubbing fanatic and can barely stand to visit our place — she even thinks my hundreds of books, which are mostly on shelves, are just “clutter.” But she had no trouble with messy moms in her professional capacity, if kids are safe and fed.

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2 Responses to Polyamory is All Good Fun Until Someone Puts an Eye Out

  1. Layne says:

    Great post, Maria. I think all parents are terrified that they’re destroying their children, no matter what choices they make.

    From my (of course super-biased) perspective, polyamory can be a great thing for the kids. I just came back from vacation with my boyfriend, his wife, his other girlfriend, the wife’s boyfriend, and the two kids (ages 2 and 5). I’m the only adult that doesn’t live in the house full-time, and the kids are as aware of the relationships as any 2 and 5 year-old can be- we’re all pretty sex-positive, openly flirtatious people, and the kids are perfectly used to coming in to mommy or daddy’s bedroom in the morning to find only one parent in bed with a different adult.

    But, as the poly stereotype goes, it’s not like this is all about sex. Instead, two loud, hyper kids get three extra adults paying attention to them. They’re much more likely to actually have someone with the patience to draw 17 pictures of buses and trains on the back of their kid menu at a restaurant, or chase them halfway across a zoo, or find the energy for one last tickle-fight before bed. I can’t imagine how anyone raises kids with just 2 parents- and the fact that these kids know that they’re loved by more people can’t possibly be doing them any harm. And your daughter is just as lucky that her parents are bringing more loving people into her life, no matter if she thinks they’re “just” friends or not.

  2. Judith Gayle Judith Gayle says:

    Great read, Maria. You know how to turn a phrase, which pleases my writers heart. Thank you for your candor and humor and your generous spirit.

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