Children Of Polyamorous Relationships Explain What It Was Like Growing Up

A family has no specific look.

Children Of Polyamorous Relationships Explain What It Was Like Growing Up
Photo by Liv Bruce on Unsplash

A family has no one perfect make-up. It really should be a simple concept to behold, but so many people have so many opinions about what they deem right and wrong. But maybe everyone should talk to people with experience on certain topics before they judge. It's a new day and people are realizing that romantic and true love for others can carry to more than one significant other.

Redditor u/AydanZeGod wanted to hear about what it's like to have more than two heads of a household for the little ones by asking.... Children of poly relationships, what was it like growing up?


dinner twins GIF by Boomerang OfficialGiphy

When I was younger I didn't realize mom and dad were poly, but now it's funny to see my friends faces when I say "my mom and her wife and my dad and my dad's girlfriend and his other girlfriend and I are gonna get together for dinner tonight."


just more players on the stage.....

When I was young my folks dated a couple of couples. One was very long term, we were military families but they managed to finagle a transfer together. So wow, that would've been like 8 years at least? They kept in close romantic contact when they separated, but idk if they qualify that as still being together.

They were my aunt and uncle, essentially.

We and their kiddos got sent off to grandparents (theirs and ours) together to give them alone time. It was kinda a given that we'd all see each other every couple days, either they'd come to our house or we'd go to theirs. Not for them to sneak away for sexy time, but just to spend time together and be a family together.

I knew I could go to them about anything I could talk to my folks about and even some things I couldn't. That closeness continued even when my own folks split, idk what standing they had with them after that tho.

Unfortunately, my aunt kinda had a psychotic menopause and we had to go to NC with her.

Nobody knows that I'm still in contact with my uncle tho. Idk how my mom would feel about it. But he stayed a rock for me when my own dad didn't.

Same drama as any other family I guess, just more players on the stage.


Thanks for the Slime....

I had a therapist in a poly relationship and they all 3 had a child together that was around 9 when I met them, 2 dads and one mom.

Unfortunately, they couldn't be fully open about the fact that the 3 of them were in love since before she was born because the one she called dad worked for a religious college and that information getting out at all could have cost him his career, so she only called 2 of them mom and dad while she thought of the other like an uncle that visited every day.

She seemed normal, she liked to make slime.


Too Many Voices....

pole GIFGiphy

It was fine.

The poly part didn't really become known to me till I was 13 or so. The only weird bit was if I was bringing home a friend or someone I wanted to go out with I had to kind of explain what to expect beforehand and some people got weirded out. 🤷♀️

I'm an adult in a monogamous marriage now - I saw first-hand that getting 3 people to come to a consensus on anything was exponentially more difficult than just getting 2 on the same page.

Edit :I just realized too - how I was raised also made me very comfortable with taking about sex and boundaries in a relationship, where I think a lot of me peers were more easily pressured into things they weren't comfortable with.


The Secrets....

This will probably be buried but it happened to my husband who didn't even realize it was happening. When he was a kid his father lived with his mothers, one of whom he thought was his birth mother and the other was an identical twin to her that he just called his aunt. He said it felt pretty normal, he never knew it was poly until much later in his life.

Several years back, his mother had passed away and his aunt contacted him again asking if she could move in with him to have him help her as her caregiver. He agreed, and just before her passing he received a letter from her lawyer (written by the twins and his father) finally explaining everything. Turned out his aunt was his actual birth mother who had kids with his father too before he was born but who had passed away in a house fire.

The mother that raised him was completely sterile and in fact had a hysterectomy at a very young age. He was in complete shock, but said it made sense how close everyone was in the house, despite keeping all the adult stuff behind closed doors. His big shock seemed more the fact that his father kept up two relationships instead of just one, and he was either scared, impressed, or both.


When in the States...

I took a class with a Dr. Awasom at University of Houston - Downtown for a while. He would talk about his childhood growing up in Cameroon in a family with one father and about a dozen mothers. At mealtime, the kids would run a route from one mother to the next, all grabbing a bite from each. He says he was, IIRC, 12 when he learned which mother gave birth to him. When he came to Houston to study, he applied at Rice University.

When filling out the application, he asked for an extra page to provide the names of all his mothers.

In his culture, he was considered to be the reincarnation of his grandfather. At a special ceremony every year, he would offer his grandfather's advice and answer questions on his grandfather's behalf. It was also in his authority to prescribe punishment for his father on this occasion. When Awasom came to the states, he would attend the annual ceremonies by phone.

Edit : Apparently, Dr. Awasom passed away last year. There's a brief tribute to him here:

Hard for me to believe there isn't more about him online. Would love to have had his memoirs.


Same Ole...

Honestly I think it's waaaaaaay more boring than most people would think. Most of the time, my mom wouldn't introduce a partner to me unless it was a long term relationship, so most of the time I got the single mom experience. I think the most exciting thing was going out for dinner to meet someone new, and occasionally my mom would date someone who had a kid my age, and we would awkwardly play together while our parents were on a date (as in, we were playing in my room upstairs and a movie date or something was going on in the living room downstairs).

Really for the most part it was so completely average other than knowing my mom had 2 girlfriends and eventually I also got a stepdad. The worst part was around 6-8th grade when kids found out and started bullying me for it, asking all kinds of disgusting sexual questions about my parents (no one wants to think about their parents having sex).

Eventually I learned to just not tell anyone unless we were close and I new they were cool. I only ever had one person I trusted enough to actually come to a family picnic where my mom's partners would all be there. My mom's partners aren't my parents but they are part of my life and my family. They're wonderful and supportive, and have helped me through some horrible dark spots in my life. I'm grateful to have such a wonderful, loving family.

So yeah, not very exciting, I know. But it's my life!


Oh the Hippies....

camping free people GIF by MOST EXPENSIVESTGiphy

I grew up in a small town and 1/2 of the town were hippies.

In the 3rd grade one of my friends couldn't go on a field trip because he returned a permission slip with the word "parent or legal guardian" crossed out and signed by the "group representative". Of course in the 3rd grade we didn't know what was going on until my mom explained it to me. But when the kid was told he couldn't go the whole hippie commune came over to class explaining to the teacher how all their kids will be raised by the group and it's damaging if they see a single person as their parent or guardian.


Let's Potluck....

I am 15 years old, and my parents often have potlucks where they invite their partners over. My parents are good people, and everyone they invite over are good people and have become my friends. I also usually will meet their children and become friends with them. It really is just a wonderful environment, but it is very difficult to maintain. More partners = more drama, and a lot of times two people will get in a fight and cause the whole group to split for a while. But all in all it's pretty great.

Edit: this really blew up and there were a few questions in the comments so I figured I would elaborate a bit. My dad is bi and my mom isn't, and the group of partners that they have (called the polycule) consists of well over 50 people, but not everyone is on a romantic relationship. And in any group of 50 people, their are people who can't stand each other. So my parents circumstance is a bit of a special one, but it only leads to meeting more good people.


A Better Person

Kids Swag GIFGiphy

Can't really say it felt weird or odd as it was just what I was used to but I think I can honestly say it's made me a more open and loving person, I'm not afraid of being close to people because my parents were always very close with their friends (for reasons that are obvious now but less so at the time).

I also grew up getting to know my parents friends quite well because my parents were very close with them and trusted them enough to look after us, although I'll admit this was probably more so they could have the house free of children. It does mean that I'm still quite close with a lot of them and consider them friends of mine outside of my parent's friendship with them and I also have a few more parental figures to choose from, meaning I can pick the best ones from each to try and emulate.

All in all I'd say I'm a more well rounded person as I got to know a lot more people as family growing up as well as exposing me to many different personalities.


Since '98....

My parents have been a triad since 1998.

It was hard I wont lie, they dated a lot of 4ths who brought their own children into the mix then later break up with them. It was really difficult to constantly have parental figures and siblings come and go. The most being 13 kids and 4 adults in a 2 bedroom apartment.

I am glad though that I grew up with it, I'm poly myself and it was never something my parents encouraged or forced on us. In fact they always say not to try it unless you're a specific type of person. It introduced me to a wide arrange of people and broadened my mind to what family actually is which is the people who love you and make you feel safe i.e. chosen family.


No Need to Explain....

Hey, a question relevant to me! honestly, though, it wasn't super different than any other way of growing up i assume, i just have one extra dad than everybody else. that's just always how it's been, and i never really thought about how 'abnormal' it was until high school. Even then it was more just thinking whether i really cared enough to explain to other people, or just go with a white lie on paperwork or whatever. Biggest difference i can think of while growing up is that there was ALWAYS someone home, which can be frustrating for a rebellious teenager.


What's your #?

tracy morgan bingo GIF by Team CocoGiphy

My mother was involved in a poly relationship for a while when I was a kid. It was very confusing. For a while there were 4 of us kids around, me, the kid of the other woman, and the two kids of the man. We were all pretty confused and resentful. Our favorite joke was "pick a number and wait in line."


Not so Great....

My friend described it as "like going through the stress of your parents divorcing and meeting your moms new boyfriend, but forever".

He cut off his relationship with his parents (and refuses to even call the dude who isn't bio related a family member). He hardly talks about it, but that's the explanation I got out of him.



My parents weren't poly until I was a toddler, I guess? I thought of the other couple as just nice people my mom and dad were close with, they met online and came to visit, they all clicked well, and eventually the other couple moved in with my family. I didn't make the connection they were all together until I was a teenager, I suppose I thought they were all just roommates of sort (though bed swapping and sharing was occurring the whole time!).

By that point, my mom and dad had divorced and so had the couple- my dad married the other woman, and my mother married the other man. My mother has divorced and remarried again, and my father and stepmother are still together, almost 20 years later.

tl;dr in retrospect, it's just kind of an odd situation, but I honestly didn't even realize my parents were poly growing up and now my dad is married to the lady instead of my mom.


Show me costumes....

christian grey anastasia GIF by Fifty ShadesGiphy

My parent were swingers. They went to bondage clubs and things like that. I found out in my late teens, so I didn't really care all that much.

I learned of it through my friend who told me his mom told him that my parents asked if they were interested one night when they were chilling in the hot tub.

Started to put the pieces together after that... All the "Halloween costumes" in that box that I always overlooked... It's weird, but whatever more power to them. Don't think they do it anymore though, they're getting a little too old for that life.


It all depends....

I know 7+ families with poly parents and more with open relationships.

The kids are... kids. Some are great. Some are anxious or manic. It varies by parent and child, not by the poly.

The poly parents that aren't great parents are pretty comparable to the normative parents that aren't great. And the poly parents that are great are pretty comparable to the normative parents that are great.

The biggest differences I can think of are going to be about communication, affection, and love, but even that's just a tendency and not a definitive distinction.

That's my experience anyways.



Had a friend several years ago that grew up with poly parents in Kansas. What he described seemed like a pretty healthy family/upbringing, and I would describe him as a well-adjusted, happy human. I don't think either parent was particularly promiscuous, but throughout the years they would have other partners. He was a proponent of polyamory and had a pretty good way of explaining it - basically no one person can satisfy your everything, so polyamorists have more than one partner that allow them to experience romantic partnership on a fuller level of their being.

Polyamory isn't my cup of tea, but it is possible to have healthy relationships with this lifestyle, including that of a family.



My son is a member of a throuple with two women. The first is his college gf who always had an open relationship, during a long distance period of their relationship he started very casually seeing girlfriend 2 but over time it got more serious and now they all live together. Things are happy and wonderful for them but I really do worry about how the dynamic would change were someone to fall pregnant.

I worry about jealousies and inequalities rising up, but mostly I worry for my future grand babies. The societal pressures and teasing from outside the home as well as possible resentments and issues within the home. I can see how, if things work the way they are planned, it could be a wonderfully supportive and rewarding way to grow up, but you know what they say about the plans of mice and men!

So I actually really appreciate the insight of this thread, I want to be supportive of my beloved throuple but part of being supportive is discussing possible pitfalls in hopes of avoiding them and this has already highlighted some. It's also pointed out some of the positives, so thank you.



Ummm GIF by memecandyGiphy

When Dads said "Go ask your mom," I was always confused.


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