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Is It Bad To Raise Kids In A Polygamist Family, With One Dad And Multiple Moms?

Fri, September 24, 2010 4:00pm EDT by 16 Comments

Kody Brown, a fundamentalist Mormon father of 13, and his three (soon to be four) wives are putting their polygamous family on display in the new show Sister Wives. Many people are outraged over the new show, but at we can’t help but wonder if this kind of lifestyle is really healthy for the kids.

On the outside, Kody Brown — the star of TLC’s new reality show Sister Wives (premiering Sept. 26) — seems like a regular Joe. When he’s not working as a salesman, he enjoys spending time with his kids and playing with his dog in the yard. But there is one big thing that sets him apart from most other fathers. He’s got THREE wives. After being married to Meri, 39, Janelle, 40, and Christine, 37, for the past 16 years, he’s now looking to bring a younger woman, Robyn, 31, into the family, much to the other ladies dismay. How are Robyn’s three children from a previous marriage going to adjust to their new life with multiple mommies? According to relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle, Robyn’s kids are likely to have a hard time adjusting to their new life. “They are about to be upstaged by a bunch of children they don’t even know,” she tells “Going from a small family to a giant one is overwhelming, They’re in for a lot of culture shock.”

Divorce is hard enough on a kid, especially when a parent starts dating again, so we can’t fathom what kind of trauma can come from trying to adjust to living with your new dad, his three other wives — and 13 kids! Dr. Gilda says that Robyn should have thought twice before throwing her family into this new environment. “She should have considered the fact that her own children have to make a radical change because of her decision,” she says. “Kids don’t want to leave the security they’ve come to know and now they’re going to have to compete for their mother’s attention with lots and lots of kids.”

He’s already got 13 kids ranging in age from 5 to 15-years-old with his original wives; plus, third wife Christine is pregnant. How on earth can the Browns give that many children all of the attention, love, support and encouragement they need to grow into well-adjusted adults? Dr. Gilda tells that there’s no way the kids are going to get enough one-on-one time with their parents. “These parents only have so much time in a day to devote to their little ones,” says Dr. Gilda, warning that if the Browns can’t focus enough attention on their youngest ones, that responsibility will fall to the older kids. “And that’s not fair,” she adds.

Despite their unconventional upbringing, Janelle, the second wife, swears that they work hard to give the kids a healthy home life. “If we raise productive, contributing members of society, who are moral and ethical, that’s our final goal,” she says, adding that they don’t mind if the kids decide not to follow in their polygamist footsteps. “As long as they are strong and firm in what they want to do and what they want to believe,” agrees first wife, Meri, who’s the only one legally married to him. “They can choose what they want to do,” adds Robyn.

Personally, we think the women are fooling themselves if they think that their teenagers are going to be able to have normal, healthy relationships with the opposite sex. “There is going to be a lot of confusion,” agrees Dr. Gilda. “Kids look to their parents to be the role model for healthy relationships. If Robyn went from a monogamous marriage into a polygamist one, how are her kids supposed to formulate their own standards in the future? I foresee a lot of rebelling when they become teenagers,” she adds.

Some of the kids already know that sharing spouses isn’t for them. “If it was my husband with another woman, I’d be ripping her hair out,” admits Janelle’s 14-year-old daughter, Madison, who admits that while she likes her family, she’s not planning to share her future-husband. “I just want one guy.”

–Amy L. Harper