Commentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Just like those who promote same-sex relationships whitewash its affects upon children, polygamists do the same, but not everyone is fooled – especially not the children.
Consider this article which recently appeared on Mommyish.com and written by a teen who refers to herself only as “Anonymous Kid.” Entitled “My Parents are Polyamourous and I Hate It”, she gives a chilling glimpse into the everyday horrors of life inside a polygamous home.
She describes herself as “the all-American teen. Cheerleader, homecoming court, mostly A’s and the occasional B or two, cross country, charitable, and just kind of making my own way. I would say average except my parents are in a triad with this woman who I used to call mom. I haven’t called her that in years, but that’s a story for another time. For those that don’t know what a triad is, it’s a three-way relationship. Mom and Dad. Mom and her girlfriend. Dad and the same girlfriend. The three of them together.”
Her three parents told her about their arrangement but she was too young to fully understand it. “They just told me that they loved me, weren’t breaking up, and wanted to share their love with others.”
But as she grew older, it wasn’t quite so simple anymore.
“I’m older now, and I’m struggling with why they can’t be normal? Their girlfriend has been with my mom since I was two, and they’ve been a triad since I was four. I have a half-sibling. Yeah, dad and his girlfriend had a kid together. My parental units wanted to scream their love from the top of the skyline and jump on couches like Tom Cruise, so everyone knows. We live right outside of Hollyweird, but they never stopped to consider if their need to be out of the closet would later affect me or my sibling.”
It has, and not in a good way. For instance, she describes the humiliation she experienced when all three parents showed up at a recent parent-teacher conference.
“Last week, my school had parent-teacher conferences at my new school. I thought just my mom and dad were going to attend. Since they’re not hiding it from anyone, they told all of my teachers that she was their girlfriend and that she’d be an active part in my education. I go to a Catholic school, and yeah, the example set before me doesn’t look too hot. They were showing affection like holding hands with each other, and it embarrassed me. It’s like the church is sitting 50 feet away, and that’s how you want to act?”
Talk about making life even more complicated for a teen!
“I feel like everyone is talking about me now,” she continues. “New friends have come up and said, ‘So you have two moms and a dad,’ or they’ve said things like, ‘Your mom shares a guy with another girl? Gross’.”
She admits it makes her want to cry. And it’s also why she spends as little time as possible at home.
“I should be happy because I’ve got three ‘parents,’ but I’m miserable. I’m begging them to send me to boarding school overseas, so I can experience something normal. I’d rather be continents away than continue to be part of this family.”
People might want to pass this off as just an aberration, but there’s no evidence that children in these relationships are faring very well.
For instance, a study conducted in 2007 in Malaysia where polygamous relationships are common among the Muslim population, found that 90 percent of the 523 children in the households interviewed said they would never enter polygamous relationships themselves.
According to the study, this is especially true for the children of the first wife who report being neglected later when the father brings home another woman and starts another family. Some children of fathers who had multiple wives said their father hardly recognized them and often has to ask, “Which mother are you from?”
These problems are just some of the reasons why societies have systematically evolved away from polygamy.
A study out of the University of British Columbia found that while women are the primary victims of these arrangements, children are not far behind.
“Considered the most comprehensive study of polygamy and the institution of marriage, the study finds significantly higher levels rape, kidnapping, murder, assault, robbery and fraud in polygynous cultures. According to [Prof.Joseph] Henrich and his research team . . . these crimes are caused primarily by pools of unmarried men, which result when other men take multiple wives,” a press release on the study states.
Henrich also found a big difference between children raised in polygamous households, which tend to be wealthier households, and those raised by poorer monogamous parents. Not surprisingly, it was the children of the poorer parents that fared better.
As the study concludes: “Monogamous marriage also results in significant improvements in child welfare, including lower rates of child neglect, abuse, accidental death, homicide and intra-household conflict . . . These benefits result from greater levels of parental investment, smaller households and increased direct ‘blood relatedness’ in monogamous family households.”
It seems as though the research is telling us exactly what “Anonymous Kid” did in her eye-opening column. Monogamy elevates the standard of living not just for a man and his wife, but for the children they bring into our world.
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