Last night I watched the latest "Sister Wives" reality show. The four wives and their one husband are interesting and appear to be good people and good parents. They're being chased out of their home because they're polygamists. Whether I think polygamy is truly religious, self-serving or just illegal is not important.
What hit me was that the women in the shelter become sister wives. They don't have the same husband and unfortunately their partners are not as responsible and caring as Cody. BUT they often have the same type of partner. That means when you hear one woman's story at the shelter, you remember many others that sound similar and evoke the same anger and concern.
And they remind me of the "Sister Wives" in that what seems best about this particular polygamist family on TV is often mirrored in what becomes best at the shelter:
*Food, dinner time, preparation, and cleanup are often shared.
*One woman's kids become everyone's kids when she needs the support and help.
*Clothes are loaned, shared, and given to others and others' kids.
*Emotions and stories are open, raw at times, and apparently honest.
*Kids become like siblings and mourn the loss of or continue relationships with kids who leave.
*Relationships improve, deteriorate, change with circumstances and understanding.
*All share the absent partner, what they mean to each other, what lessons they've imparted.
Unfortunately, I doubt that all polygamist families have a positive, helpful husband/father like Cody or have women as emotionally mature and open as his four wives.
Nonetheless, when 20 or more women and kids live together night and day for weeks, each woman's ability to become a part of that "big family" may make a difference when she leaves. What she takes away could be a stronger family.
One that loves and cooperates, and grows stronger because what each person brings to the mix. It is a model based on need, but a model nonetheless.