The attempt at a July 4th vacation trip to Big Bear doesn’t turn out so well as issues with the kids overshadow the family fun. The teenagers have an attitude from the start, and as is not uncommon with teenagers, are pouty and pugnacious.
In the episode, most of the teens still feel traumatized to have had to leave Utah for Las Vegas. I can understand this — in Utah they were surrounded by a community of other polygamous families and a lot of others with the same or similar religious beliefs. The culture of Las Vegas is very different, and they feel isolated and unhappy.
You would think the fact that they have each other would help quite a bit, but the teens are at an age when they are coming into their own power, and are feeling their strength as a group. Their parents are going through a lot of personal issues, which makes more space for this rebellion. The parents are questioning the wisdom now of having timed the kids’ birth such that so many of them are teenagers at once.
Hunter is particularly disrespectful, and seems to be causing his mother, Janelle, a lot of grief. His half-brother, Logan (the oldest son of the family), attempts to confront him but is also rebuffed. It appears from the series that Janelle is left to try to discipline him on her own, which I think is unfair — there needs to be more solidarity among the adults in dealing with these things.
Both of these boys remind us of aspects of Kody, naturally, and they are learning about how to be men from their father. Logan seems to exemplify the good, responsible side of Kody, while Hunter models himself more after the wilder side.
Among the younger kids, there has been bullying — Robyn’s kids get treated differently than the others, and it’s gotten to a point that it really bothers the parents. Robyn says that her kids will have the choice of living with their biological father when they turn 13. For Dayton, her oldest, this is only a year and a half away.
Meri reaches the end of her patience on the vacation and confronts all of the kids in a parking lot as they all go out to lunch — she’s disappointed when none of the other mothers back her up. The adults later talk about their differences of opinion about how to handle all of it, with Christine saying she’d prefer to have just spoken with the kid who did the bullying in this case. Kody says he would have taken everyone back to the campsite and “the night would have been over.”
It has been a year since they started trying to merge the two families, so I was kind of surprised that the parents are only talking about trying to address this now. I do agree with all of the kids being held responsible for the pattern and talking to all of them as a group, as well as addressing individual incidents with just those involved. I also would not have wanted to talk about it in a public parking lot, though — maybe the Sister Wives crew has become so used to their lives being public that this kind of thing starts to seem normal, but it doesn’t seem like the best way to handle it.
The adults need to all get on the same page about these things. The kids are starting to run amok, and there is enough inconsistency between the adult messages that things will continue to get worse until this is resolved.
On another front, though, they are able to come up with a creative solution regarding another child issue. Christine’s eight-year-old daughter Ysabel has been disrespectful and mean to her mother, and Christine is heart-broken and feeling beaten down. To allow mother and daughter some space and also experiment with another parenting situation that might work better for her, Kody suggested that Ysabel move in with Meri (they didn’t say for how long, but it appears to just be indefinite). Robyn’s daughter Breanna wanted to move in with Meri too, so a room was prepared for the two little girls to share.
This seems like a good solution to me. I’ve noticed a lot of negative opinions out there about this, saying that Christine is giving up her child and admitting defeat as a parent, but I don’t think she’s doing either of these things. She’s admitting she needs assistance, but Ysabel will still be around. The whole thing should be good for Meri too, who has been wanting more children for a long time.
I watched the show with my polygamous family and we talked about this for quite a while afterward. We use a more blended approach, and have all of the women living together in one house with our “husband,” John. We plan to raise all of our children together without as much differentiation between moms. John brought up the idea that he thought it would be best to group the children in different parts of the house by gender and age, rather than having all kids of a particular mother live together. This makes a lot of sense to me!