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What effects does parents’ polyamory have on kids? In the course of writing my novel on this topic, I wondered what research has been done in that area, and got this helpful summary from Claire Q. The notes are hers:

Understanding Non-Monogamies, Meg Barker and Darren Langdridge: “Most social scientific work on intimate relationships has assumed a monogamous structure, or has considered anything other than monogamy only in the context of ‘infidelity’. Yet, in recent years there has been a growing interest among researchers and the public in exploring various patterns of intimacy that involve open non-monogamy. This volume gathers contributions from academics, activists, and practitioners throughout the world to explore non-monogamous relationships. Featuring both empirical and theoretical pieces, contributors examine the history and cultural basis of various forms of non-monogamy, experiences of non-monogamous living, psychological understandings of relationship patterns, language and emotion, the discursive construction of mono-normativity as well as issues of race, class, disability, sexuality and gender. This volume will be of interest to academics and practitioners working in the social sciences and anyone who is seeking greater insight into the intricacies of non-monogamous relationships.”

“To pass, border or pollute” is a chapter by Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli within the book “Understanding Non-Monogamies” mentioned above.

Sexualities Families Schools Curriculum Cultures, Maria Pallotti-Chiarolli: “The first book of its kind internationally, Border Sexualities, Border Families in Schools explores the experiences of bisexual students, mixed sexual orientation families, and polyamorous families in schools. For the first time, a book foregrounds the voices and experiences of these students and families who are ‘falling into the gaps’ or on the borders of a school’s gay/straight divide in anti-homophobia policies and programs, and schools recognizing families as meaning either heterosexual couples, or, increasingly, homosexual couples. Drawing from interviews and online research with students, parents, and teachers, as well as providing a comprehensive overview and analysis of international educational and health research, and media/popular cultural texts, this book addresses the following: _ what are the problematic and/or empowering experiences and strategies of bisexual students, multisexual and polyamorous families in educational systems ? _ what could schools be doing to promote healthy sexual, emotional and social relationships for bisexual students and multisexual/polyamorous families in school communities? _ what recommendations/implementations do bisexual students and multisexual/polyamorous families suggest in regard to school curriculum, school policies, and student welfare in order to acknowledge and support family diversity in school communities? In particular, the research findings which are reported in this book show that ‘border sexualities’ and ‘border families’ use three types of strategies: _ passing or normalization and assimilation in school settings; _ bordering or negotiation and navigation between the private world of home and public world of school; and _ polluting or non-compliance and resistance, thereby outing their sexualities and families within the school world. Within a social deconstructionist, multicultural, post-colonial, feminist, queer theoretical framework, this book spans health, education, sociology, psychology, gender, family, sexuality and cultural studies.”

Polyparents having children, raising children, schooling children, Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli: “Through the use of both quantitative and qualitative data from Australian and US research, this paper is an initial exploration of polyamorous parenting, particularly in relation to schooling and negotiating the implications of heteronormative monogamy on their children’s lives. The paper calls for more research and support of polyamorous families as these families are still largely invisible and falling ‘between the cracks’ of heteronormative monogamous nuclear families and the increasingly visible lesbian and gay families.”

These Are Our Children: Polyamorous Parenting is in press, so can’t find anything yet.

Polyamorous Families, Same-Sex Marriage, and the Slippery Slope Elisabeth Sheff: “Opponents of same-sex marriage identify multiple-partner families as the pivotal step that, were same-sex marriage legalized, would propel society down a “slippery slope” to relational chaos. Like the families of same-sex partners, polyamorous families—or those with adults in openly conducted multiple-partner relationships—demonstrate alternate forms of kinship not necessarily dependent on conventional biolegal kin, sexual connections, or even chosen kin ties as previously understood. This article extends sociological knowledge by detailing characteristics of relatively unknown family form; comparing original data on polyamorous families with published research on same-sex families instead of heterosexual families, a contrast that decenters heterosexual families as the sole measure of legitimacy while simultaneously expanding knowledge about same-sex families and explaining how polyamorous families’ differences have implications for the same-sex marriage debate and how these shifting social norms implicate changes for the field of family studies and larger society.”

Strategies in Polyamorous Parenting – another chapter from the Understanding Non-monogamies book, this time by Elisabeth Sheff.

Treasures of the Island  no description, 1 review.

Group Marriage: A Study of Contemporary Multilateral Marriage similarly only a review.

Marriage and Alternatives: Exploring Intimate-Relationships – not even a review but used copies available.

Contemporary Communal Child Rearing: A First Analysis Charley M. Johnston, Robert W. Deisher: “For children, the environment of the intentional community can provide important advantages that few nuclear families are in a position to give. With the dissolution of the extended family and with increasing personal and interpersonal alienation, these advantages are amplified. In the 20 communal groups visited, the observer found significant variation in the degree to which these potential advantages have come to be realized. In each, difficulties–personal, interpersonal and physical–have presented themselves. In the few instances where neither the biological parents nor the extended family of the commune has provided the necessary environment of basic trust, the children have evidenced this lack. Where major difficulties have been overcome and the commune members have been able to realize some of the potential advantages of communal child rearing, the reward has been children who demonstrate self-confidence, openness, warmth, independence and maturity.”

Is Group Marriage Viable? Sheldon Salsberg: “Group Marriage, as used in this paper, refers to a family structure in which three or more adult members (including at least one male and female) live together on a communal basis and share labor, goods, services, money, and the bearing and raising of children, and have sexual access to each other. Larry L. Constantine and Joan M. Constantine, who have done considerable research on group marriage, estimate that the number of such marriages in the United States probably does not exceed one thousand. In this paper the question is raised and on the basis of personal interviews examined whether or not group marriage is a viable alternative to the existing family structure. The author weighs the problems that he observed against the valuable experiences claimed and comes to the conclusion that apparently the former are too great at the present time for the people involved to overcome.”   *AGAINST* poly families, as far as the abstract goes…

Implementing New Relationship Styles in American Families, T. Weisner– long and un-OCRed abstract which you can find there. Implementing new relationship styles in American families,

Nonconventional Family Life-Styles and School Achievement: A 12-Year Longitudinal Study T. Weisner. An encouraging abstract.

All in all, mostly encouraging but disappointingly few authors involved, to my mind.

Actually, I was impressed that Claire was able to find as much as she did. I thought this area was virtually unexplored. Is anything missing from this list? Please let us know if you are aware of other research published in this area.

One response to “Children of polyamory: the research”

  1. Padrhaig's Alehouse | More on raising children in a poly home

    […] Claire Q. recently listed and described much of the available research on children of poly parents (for Laird Harrison’s website for his new novel Fallen Lake, a story about kids growing up […]

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