sister wives

I recently listened to a Moth podcast about a Mormon family of five wives and one husband. The focus of the podcast was how this family slowly lost faith in their religion but nevertheless stayed together.

I’m currently visiting one of my daughters with her new baby and four year old son. She’s a fabulous mom; she’s got a very supportive husband who’s a good provider and she’s also underslept, isolated and unable to do anything other than parent. This is a mom living the “American dream” without the challenges of poverty or racism faced by so many parents.

I think you can see where this is headed.  Even though the Mormon system is sexist and unworkable for a population with the same number of men and women, I nevertheless believe it’s better for mothers than what most women deal with in this country. The women in this report did not have to take care of their children when they were sick, do all the housework, give up all other activities, or spend hours of childcare alone.  The shared work allowed the women companionship and time to sleep, relax, and have fun, including the fun had while working together.

There are other ways in which humans have figured out raising families and, as a matter of fact, almost every way people have figured out families has been better for parenting than what is our lot here.

If we follow the money, we can see that a capitalist economy benefits from every family unit living isolated from other families, buying a house and a car or several, filling it with a refrigerator, and every other toy, gadget, article of clothing etc, etc, ad infinitum. This is not good for parents and it certainly isn’t good for children.

Most societies not organized around money do not isolate families, in the past or currently.  In longhouses [Haudenasaunee], or compounds [traditional Africa], or small villages [everywhere], people parent together.

My daughter just read what I wrote so far, liked it, gave me permission to include her family, and suggested I take a stab at some positive actions we can take — other than [or in addition to] ending –peacefully –a system that values the accumulation of money above human needs.  Here are some examples of what some friends and family have done.

–I know a grandmother who is the main child care provider for her baby granddaughter and has managed to corral four other grandmothers and their little ones to work and enjoy together.

–my son & daughter-in-law have organized neighborhood dinners six times a year.

–my husband and I bought the house next door [before the real estate market soared] and now one of my daughters lives there with her family.

–I belong to a parent group that meets weekly to laugh, cry, and support each other in our parenting.

–A Baha’i community in Colombia [   –check out the first part at about 2:45] figured out, through its religious activities, to support children, youth & adults so, unlike neighboring communities, the young people do not have addiction problems.

I will welcome hearing what you have figured out.