Erica is a writer, editor, wife, and mom. She has always found employment with an English degree and she excels at nurturing children and animals but struggles to keep houseplants alive. Erica currently writes at

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Frustrated With Your Kid? Give Her Away

Last Sunday, I found myself watching Sister Wives on TLC.  I’ve watched it before, usually with the same curious, shocked look of wonderment that I used when I stalked women who shopped together at the grocery store case sales when I lived in Utah.  Are they sisters or sister-WIVES?

It’s true.  I’m fascinated.  And not destined for a career in the CIA.

Back to the show, the four wives are sitting on the interview couch with the one husband, which always looks uncomfortable even though they’re all harmoniously joined to one man.  ANYway…

Christine (wife #3), narrates that she and her 8-year-old daughter, Ysabel, don’t get along.  So she decided to let Ysabel move in with Meri (wife #1).  Wha-haaat?

Here are my thoughts in no particular order, but all occurring at once in about half a second.

  1. Your daughter is eight.  Are you really out of options already?  There’s no narration on what was tried and failed.
  2. Meri now lives in a separate house.  Christine is giving up her attempts at discipline, but she’s also giving up the moment when her daughter returns from school; when she goes to bed at night; when she needs advice for the bratty girl who torments her at school (this isn’t part of the story, but every girl has That Girl in class).
  3. I have trouble with my 2-year-old.  Should I ship him off to my parents in Wyoming?  Thinking…thinking…

    Bone Thugs & Harmony

  4. But no!  Don’t only parents with major issues put their kids in another house?
  5. Well, there are 4 moms and one dad.  That could be a major issue.
  6. Meri seems kind of excited and kind of not.  What gives here?
  7. And Robyn (wife #4) is also sending her daughter to Meri’s on a part-time basis.  As a kind of sleepover thing with her sister-friend Ysabel.  I am so confused.
  8. Where is Kody in the disciplining?  If he spends one night at a time with each wife, that seemingly leaves a lot of time for single parenting by each wife.  But then the wives also parent together, so there’s that ebb-and-flow of different parents and different rules for the kids to keep straight.

I guess time will tell how this whole situation pans out.  I think these women are either amazingly self assured or emotionally blocked on a ridiculous level.  The idea of sharing a husband makes my brain itchy (and puts my coochie on lock-down, but that’s another post), and then putting your child in another woman’s hands/house/heart…well that makes my spirit wither.

Is this a great idea for the kid or a terrible thing all around?  Would you consider handing your kid over to someone else in your family?

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Comments (10)

  1. Kisa Johnson 03/12/2015 at 8:48 pm

    My 9 1/2 year old has ODD, ADHD and I’ve struggled to do everything I can the past 9 1/2 years. Counseling, more counseling, social rehabilitation, finally got his dad on board to try meds, and now we’re at a different counseling office. It’s STILL difficult, difficult to the point there at times he has been violent to even my toddler. I have considered, heavily, even though it hurts my heart, actually sending him to his dads like his dad thinks is best.

  2. pampugh 06/08/2012 at 8:52 am

    barf. barf, barf, BARF. there is nothing else to say.

  3. Pingback: My Son’s Economic Crisis « « TodaysMama TodaysMama

  4. Erin Oltmanns 11/14/2011 at 8:34 pm

    Nuts! “I don’t get along with my 8 year old?”.

    You’re not supposed to get along. You’re supposed to parent. Maybe this child is struggling because the environment they’re being raised in presents some confusion or lack of attention?

    If I had been passed off as an EIGHT YEAR OLD to another family member because my parents couldn’t deal with me, I think that would have had a lasting, and detrimental, impact.

    • jo sayles 08/07/2012 at 5:35 pm

      True, True and more true!! well said

  5. Shannon 11/14/2011 at 12:51 pm

    I LOVE this picture of you!

  6. Laura 11/14/2011 at 9:15 am

    I threaten giving them away, but NO I would never do it. Maybe a week at a grandparents house to give me a break, but even then that would be hard. I have only watched the first two seasons of Sister Wives and it is a bit fascinating to me. I sometimes think I wouldn’t mind a sister wife. Heaven knows I need more help, but then you think about it for real and it gives me the ibby gibbies.

  7. Lisa @ Oh Boy Oh Boy Oh Boy 11/14/2011 at 9:15 am

    I DO think it’s a little different then shipping your kid off to another state, they do claim to be one family, just living in different houses right now because they can’t find a place big enough for everyone just yet. Personally, I can’t imagine it. My kids make me INSANE many many days (3 boys, 2 with confirmed ADHD and one coming up that I think does also) but I can’t imagine giving up a single moment to having them under another roof. I think Robyn is just doing it because her daughter is having issues feeling like she’s part of the family so she’s letting her tag along but she clearly is having a harder time letting go and is only letting it happen part time.
    I didn’t see any input on how that situation panned out on last nights episode though!

  8. Christina Smith 11/14/2011 at 8:15 am

    I’ve been a long time watcher of Sister Wives and even wrote a post on blog about Polygamy, Is it all that bad?

    I don’t think this whole thing is nearly as shocking as it appears to be for you. The girls are staying with someone else in the family for one. Not a stranger but an adult they have to respect just as much as the others. And we don’t know how long they girls would be staying either. It could just be a few months or a year until her and her daughter can get on the same page.

    Also, Meri is pretty much just in charge of one teenager during the day since now they all live in different houses kinda far away. Personally, I thought that it was a brilliant idea if that’s the kind of household you have. I’m not religious or wanting to have sister wives let alone I don’t agree with anything in their religion. But seeing what’s happened now I totally think it’s something they should try and see how it goes. Certainly nothing that will tear the family apart at the seams.

    As for families that don’t function like theirs it might not work. I can only think of hearing this kind of thing when a child goes to live with the grandparents for a while which often works well. Also they have special memories and their grandparents rather than just the few times they get to see each other on holidays.

    But that’s my point of view n_n/

  9. deb1ie 11/14/2011 at 8:08 am

    You bring up some good points, most of which also crossed my mind. BUT…, and there is a big BUT here – perhaps one of the many (or few, depending on how you look at) benefits of having sister wives is that you CAN pass your child onto the next wife in order for them (and you) to gain some perspective on any problems you may be having. It’s not like Christine sent her daughter to Siberia or to an auntie in Boca. She’s still living within the rules, confines and protection of the family. I don’t believe for one second that Christine is permanently giving up any of those moments when her daughter returns from school or when she goes to bed at night or when she needs advice for the bratty girl who torments her at school (this isn’t part of the story, but every girl has That Girl in class). Except for that final goodnight before the light gets switched off by Meri, Christine can still experience all of those things with Ysabel. And if Ysabel really needs to talk to Christine, she can find her down the street, not in another State. I applaud Christine for realizing that she has a problem with her daughter and, instead of just letting things progress into total melt-down mode, she and Meri agreed to have her daughter sleep over at Meri’s house for a while. Christine is still the mom, but so is Meri. They each have distinctly different personalities, and I suspect they also have different parenting styles too. Why not take advantage of having sister wives? This family has stressed all along that the children belong to everybody, not just to the mom who gave birth to them. It does indeed take a village to raise children. Every family has problems. All kids act up from time to time. You’re kidding yourself if you think your child will only have a perfect parenting life is you do all the parenting. You’re not always born with a child you’re in love with. You may give birth to a child you simply cannot fathom. As for your comment about Kodie’s apparent lack of parenting in this specific situation, remember that the problem is between Christine and her daughter. In most matriarchal societies, (and I can make a strong argument that this is what the Browns have) the women are the day-to-day disciplinarians, which I suspect is what it’s like in most households across America. Just what exactly is Kodie supposed to do to end the conflict between Christine and Ysabel? If you can answer that question and come up with an effective solution to their problems, you’ll have taken on God-like powers. In my 35 years of parenting, I can count on one hand how many times I’ve witnessed a dad, any dad, actually resolve conflict between a mother and daughter. It’s simply beyond their capabilities. Dads are good for providing overall structure, security, and religious upbringing, not for getting in between a mother and daughter who can’t get along. I can hear it now: Kodie: “Ysabel, why don’t you listen to mommy?” Ysabel: “I don’t know.” Kodie: “Why can’t you get along with mommy?” Ysabel: “I don’t know.” Kodie: “She’s your mother and you have to listen to her when she tells you to do something.” Ysabel: “Okay.” Poof! Problem solved. Yeah, right. Kodie getting in between Christine and Ysabel, that’s going to solve things. As for all of the Brown kids having to learn to deal with different mothers’ rules, gee, doesn’t that sound exactly like children needing to deal with different teachers in school. What a revelation – the world is filled with adults who have different expectations of behavior! What’s wrong with a kid having to adjust to that? It’s called growing up. The Brown kids may have a jump on other children who are raised in a monogamous family in that the Brown kids learned very early that there would be days in your life when you’ll need to abide by many different sets of rules. Every day I live with different rules set up by many different people, and I conduct myself accordingly. When I’m driving, I obey the rules of the road. Out in the world, I conduct myself according to the rules of my community, county, state, and country. An occasional trip to Vegas means I have to conduct myself according to the rules of the casino I’m in. Even the simple act of buying milk means I need to obey store rules. The list goes on and on.
    One last comment. If you have problems with your two-year-old, and you’ve tried everything you can think of to resolve the problem, then by all means, send him or her somewhere else for a while. It’s not the end of the world if your child is supervised by someone else for a while. Check it out. They’re called preschools and I’m pretty sure that’s one of the reasons they exist – to give mommies a break. And when he or she is returned to you, (and I’m pretty sure the school will give your 2-year back) that time spend apart from your kid might just make you a better parent in the long run.