Q. How do the children of plural marriages interact and get on? What problems are there that might be said to be different from monogamous households?
In our experience (I can only speak for my own family here) the differences have only been positive. Because most of my children have been brought up in polygamy from the cradle it is perfectly natural for them.
There are so many advantages. With several wives there is an on-line help service if any wife or mother gets into difficulties. If one mother is stressed, another wife can relieve her by looking after her children for a while. This reduces the stress in the children considerably.
There is, of course, sibling rivalry from time to time, but this is minimised by the equality and fairness we apply. My wives treat their sister-wives's children as their own, showing the same kind of affection and applying the same discipline. Whilst it is understood that in any area involving the children where there is a dispute over, say, discipline, the natural mother takes priority. This should not, however, be happening if the family is operating in the Spirit. We rarely have such conflicts because we are all agreed in our common goals and standards. This was not, admittedly, the case between my present wives (2003) and one who left some years ago for she had values and standards that were at variance with my own, to which the junior wives were submitted whereas she was not. This caused unbearable tensions and I ended up walking a tightrope. This is why proper patriarchal government must be in place before children are brought into the world. The husband must know where he is going in the raising and disciplining of his children and ensure that all the wives are agreed. A household where the wives have different codes of behaviour is a house divided against itself and is fatal in the long run unless the family divides and lives in separate households (which I personally do not favour).
My eldest children were brought up in a monogamous environment in the early days and found the transition difficult mostly because of the fact that we had to keep our living style hidden whereas before in monogamy they could be quite open. It took about a year to adjust. In the end we decided to move home and make a fresh start somewhere else where we weren't known and this had the desired affect. My eldest are now (2003) fully supportative and indeed are enjoying the benefits of an expanded family. For one thing, there are a lot more treats! Moreover, my children gravitate to different wives according to their dispositions and needs. My teenagers find natural empathy with my youngest wife who is more of a sister to them but go to my eldest one when they want other needs met. The more wives you have, the greater the emotional, intellectual and spiritual resources that are available for the children. That's why I like big polygamous families - it's a community all on its own where all the needs of the children can be met without having to expose them to worldly influences save as part of the ordinary interactions we have. My children do, as a matter of fact, have a lot of contact with other Christian as well as non-Christian children but only in such social contexts that do not compromise our spiritual standards.
What I like about polygamy is that the home is much more the focus of family life than modern monogamous ones. It seems to me that in most monogamous homes the parents and children drift apart, creating a 'generation gap'. We have none of that here. We are all interacting all the time. I believe my children are more psychologically healthy now as a result of polygamous marriage than before. The community principle is learned at home where there is greater committment because of blood ties than in the wider fellowship. And in the Christian/Messianic community we live in, other patriarchal families are able to blend in effortlessly too. Polygamy is family par excellence and it's wonderful for the children. They were actually my greatest concern when I entered this life-style because I didn't want them to be disadvantaged as a result of it. While the family was small and they relied more on worldly friends it was admittedly hard, but today I see that my fears were unfounded. It has all worked out so beautifully. With Christ the centre of the family and with the principles we have learned from Elohim's (God's) Word, we have created the beginnings of a small paradise. Now we want to expand its borders and share it with others.