What the Pygmies Can Teach Us About Child Rearing Why do what is child-rearing practices push our young ones while asking little of our older kids? Modern Parenting: Do We Really Need to Reinvent the Wheel? With narcissism levels on the rise among college students, and kids everywhere growing up with inflated egos and deflated life prospects, it’s hard to make the case for giving kids yet more pats on the back.
Jared Diamond’s new book, The World Until Yesterday, describes some of the lessons we can learn from today’s hunter-gatherer societies that most closely approximate the way people lived in our ancestral past. These traditional practices are important to understand because many indices of poor health in children — such as obesity, depression, ADHD and teen suicide — have increased dramatically in the U. Loneliness and depression are virtually unheard of and children learn empathy through noncompetitive games and the care of younger siblings. The nuclear family is much less important in hunter-gatherer societies too.
Nonparental caregivers play a much bigger role in child care than in contemporary industrialized societies, usually starting immediately after birth. Diamond cites a study of the Efe people, whose infants were passed around among nonparental adults an average of eight times per hour. Co-sleeping has had its moment too. Why is it so hard to meet the needs of babies and young children?
Most obviously, a child-centric approach to human development demands a lot of resources in industrialized societies where the nuclear family bears the burden of child rearing. 7 physical contact are costly luxuries for well-off families, and even where possible, many contemporary parents would sooner dig ditches than live in such constant proximity to their offspring. But there may be more than technology and economics at work. It’s hard to avoid the sense that all this, well, infantilizing is just a bridge too far. But cuddling babies is not the same thing as coddling teenagers. Hunter-gatherer childhoods are easy and playful, but adolescents are expected to go out and hunt lions.
We seem to have things backward in our contemporary world, pushing our very youngest to do things that don’t make neurological or developmental sense while asking relatively little of our older kids. Was Sex With Children Ever O. Childless By Choice: It’s Not Always Family v. Quite a number of women know better than to take parental responsibilities they’re not up to. Send a letter to the editor here. These letters may be edited and posted on TIME Ideas.