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“[They] can benefit from having multiple loving parents who can offer not only more quality time, but a greater range of interests and energy levels to match the child’s own unique and growing personality,” says a 2013 study, Children of Polyamorous Families: A First Empirical Look. For example, the report points out that whereas a single adult or even two adults with little or no time to themselves can burn out, multiple adults can meet children’s endless needs without becoming frustrated or insensitive.Families with this non-traditional set-up do encounter their own unique challenges and difficulties.The four parents are seated around the dining room table; Sean fidgets with a houseplant, playfully trailing the tendrils along the arm of Liane, who occasionally rubs Sue’s shoulders.

She’s also in a relationship with Adam*, whom she describes as her life partner.“I feel very fortunate that [poly parenting] works so well for us,” says Ryan.“It’s almost impossible to imagine how hard it would be without it.” Recovering from that emergency C-section was tough for Sue—but having Liane around made it a whole lot easier. Now, home with the babies every day, amid all the crying and spitting up, they’re able to look at each other and cackle at the absurdity of co-parenting two infants.“My ideal would be to have a household with many parents and many kids, and everybody just parents everybody’s kids,” Sheila says.Additional partners aid parents in everything from child care to emotional support—or even being able to have a family in the first place.

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