From the start, children are not in polygamy – it’s their parents that are, but they are no doubt affected by it, in one way or the other. Most of the time we focus on the issues of the wife (or wives) and husband when we are discussing polygamy. But as we are talking marriage, more often than not children are going to be involved. How are they affected by polygamy?
The answer to this will be as varied as it is for the adults involved, depending on the surrounding culture, upbringing and personalities of the children. But some assume it will necessarily be negative – take a look at this article where the ex of a man tried to use his polyamorous lifestyle to stop him retaining custody of their kids.
The judge ruled that actually it wasn’t necessarily going to have a negative impact on the children. Children live happily in all sorts of family setups around the world, and at the same time, there are many child abuse cases happening within monogamous family setups.
From my own experience, because polygamy wasn’t an unknown concept to my children, they weren’t particularly affected or at all ‘disturbed’ by it. On the other hand, because of the prevailing culture and having non-Muslim relatives, there is the potential for stressful situations. I can see as polyamory becomes more and more accepted, as are homosexual parents, that this will be less and less of a problem.
The actual problems involving children and polygamy I see are that when cowives (or one of them) want to live completely separate lives from the other family (families), the siblings will be missing out. I can remember enjoying spending time with my cousins which you could say is a similar, or maybe slightly more distant relationship, to half siblings, so why should half-siblings miss out? I think here husbands need to make things clear from the start how the extended family will work. Using the children as weapons against each other, which I have seen in monogamous relationships too, is just not on!
Another proactive stance a man should take is to make a greater effort to spend time with all his children. Just because it is one particular wife’s night shouldn’t mean he ignores their children. I know this might be difficult when everyone is split across the globe, but nowadays most people have access to Skype or whatever video calling method they want to use.
What do you think? Is polygamy is good or bad for children? Leave a comment or join in the conversations over at our Facebook page.