Teens in throuple, parenting tips from Care and Feeding.

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Dear Care and Nourishment,

I have a 16 year old son, “Kyle”. Over the weekend, Kyle introduced me to his girlfriends, plural. He seems to be dating two girls at his school at the same time, and they are all in favor of this arrangement, apparently the two women are together before he decides to invite my son to things. I spent the afternoon chatting with them, and they seem like a happy but immature bunch, pretty regular teenagers.

Intellectually, I understand that people do all kinds of non-traditional relationships these days, but emotionally, I can’t wrap my head around it. In my previous paragraph, I wrote that they seemed like a happy, but immature “couple” before deleting it because it’s not actually the right number of people involved. I keep getting the feeling that their relationship is somehow wrong and that it will inevitably crash and burn. Maybe it will, but if it does, it’s probably just because teenage relationships tend to be, and nothing intrinsic to it being a triad. But I can’t shake this feeling.

I want to support my son, but I also know that would mean suppressing my real feelings and putting a projection on him. How do I do this without revealing my irrational disapproval?

— Wanting to be the mask

Beloved, become the mask,

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While the setup itself is relatively uncommon, there are of course long-term groups that live happily and function just as well as traditional couples. However, I understand your misgivings given your son’s age and how difficult it is for teenagers to navigate relationships with “just” two people. You can both support your child and voice your concerns at the same time.

What are your specific concerns? Do you think a three-person relationship is too difficult for people so young to handle? You can share everything by letting him know you’re in his corner. Talk to him about the importance of being honest while dating; he needs to be able to communicate his feelings to these two girls and be honest with himself about his ability to handle this dynamic. She should also be aware that because these associations are not the norm, she should expect to encounter resistance, skepticism, and even rejection from others, possibly including the parents of these girls. Whatever you do, don’t make him feel like he can’t talk openly with you about this relationship or any of his other dealings with romantic partners. Do your best to avoid shame or judgment. This triad probably won’t last much longer than any other teenage relationship, but it’s important that your child feels supported by you at all times.


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