Why I Watch Sisterwives With My Eight Year Old
I know, seriously. Can you stand it?
I can't believe it myself. I can't believe I actually wrote that line. I watch Sisterwives. Ugh.
I'll admit, it started out of boredom and morbid curiosity one December weekend when I was sewing. But then I became glued to the show. (thank you, Netflix streaming) I got to know the characters and became wrapped in their story. Kody is a machismo kinda guy, a self-centered punk. He comes across as self-righteous and I have no desire to hang out with him. Everything revolves around him. That is fundamentally annoying to me. And barfy. On the other hand....I kinda like the guy. If nothing else, I have to give him props. He seems to be hardworking. He may be living a different life than I'm used to, but he does it without shame and with what seems to be kindness and caring towards his family. Most importantly, he seems to be taking care of his responsibilities, which is more than we can say of many men (and women) in our country.
I'm not sure what it is. I think it might be that I identify with their living a "different" lifestyle than many are used too. We are often jokingly referred to as the "Brady Bunch". Or we are called "Bradjolina". Either way, it is apparent and striking to our children that we are different than "normal" families. Despite divorced families rates being in the 60% and despite the fact that 1 in 4 kids in America live in a blended family situation, my kids know that they are fundamentally different. We are a big family. In this metro area, where small houses and apartment living is the norm, we stick out like a sore thumb crammed into our row house. We aren't married. Even Mike and Carol got married before they shacked up and moved their big blended Brady family in together. We are middle class, we live on a shoe-string tight budget in the city, and we are living a life that is never shown on TV.
That is why I watch Sisterwives with my eight year old daughter. Since she was a baby, it has been important to me that she knew families come in all shapes, colors, sizes and combinations. Her whole life I've had close friends that were single mothers raising children, gay couples raising children, and divorced families working together to raise children. Their aunt, my only sister, a very white European-Caucasian married a very black African-American, their only uncle on my side. It wasn't until just this year that either of my children took notice of any of these circumstances nor the people we love as being different. And as my ex and I split, we took extra precaution not to expose our children to our split but to enhance the awesomeness that they have SO MANY people that love them and so many places in which they are welcome and able to call home.
I watch Sisterwives with my daughter because it gives me the opportunity to talk to her about families. About beliefs, belief systems, and about acceptance. I tell her that, although we may not have the same beliefs as this family, that doesn't make them any less a family. We talk about how families come in all shapes and sizes. And that just because people choose to live their lives a different way than what we think of as "normal", doesn't mean that they are any less a family, nor does it mean they love one another any less. It gives me the opportunity to point out that their lives might be different to us, but to them, we are the different ones.
It also gives me the opportunity to talk about religious beliefs and acceptance of them in our great country. I am able to talk about the fact that although their religious beliefs might differ from ours, so do millions around the world. One of the great things about our country is that it was set up by our founding fathers so that we have the freedom to believe what we want, without the government controlling our spiritual beliefs. It also gives me the opportunity to talk about all the other religions throughout the world--most of which are significantly more different from the one we practice than the one depicted on Sisterwives--and of how we should accept and understand all faiths despite our differences. In the end we are all looking for the same thing: guidance to do right in the world, love and protection for our children, and a path leading beyond this life.
Finally, it gives me the opportunity to talk to my daughter about hatred and prejudice. It is the dirty reality of the world that some will never accept nor open their hearts to the different. That some people will continue to see the world in black and white with no room for other colors. I want my daughter to be aware of this thinking and to learn how to forgive those people. I hope she will see the injustice of their thinking and help to build a better world in reaction to it. I believe that education is the best medicine in terms of enlightening our future generations, and I hope that in seeing negative reactions to a harmless family my daughter will help to make a difference and have a hand in changing the outlook of our world--that she will help to create a world built on acceptance, love and understanding.
Yes, I watch Sisterwives with my eight year old daughter so that she may one day CHANGE THE WORLD.
Small thinking? Not even close.
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