One obvious challenge of bringing up children in a polyamory family is the thorny issue of social stigma. Tara, a 42-year-old graphic designer and mother of two who spoke on condition of anonymity, told me that when she and her husband of over 20 years decided to take a new male partner into their marriage seven years ago, they were ostracized in their community.
“It was great for our family, but not when the surrounding community found out,” she said. “Playdates and invitations to kids birthday parties stopped. People avoided us at the playground. We lost many friends.
It was the hardest thing I’ve ever been through.”
Tara and her family eventually moved to one of B.C.’s Gulf Islands where they have found a more socially tolerant community. But she says it’s still difficult: “One woman actually said to me, ‘Why can’t you just have an affair like everyone else?’”
It’s this perceived hypocrisy that frustrates many bopos. They point out that while marital infidelity is an open secret in our society, polyamory is still viewed as aberrant. Or, as Skinner puts it, “Most people are polyamorous to some extent. Unlike us, they just choose to lie about it.”
Once you get past the taboo aspect of polyamory family life, the practical benefits begin to emerge. The Jamal-Skinners, for instance, are double income family with a stay-home parent – an enviable set-up for any family with three young children.