I’m trying to be that neanderthal parent.

Carlotta posted THIS LINK about the three studies done by Professor Darcia Narvaez of Notre Dame Uni into how young children develop a sense of morality and compassion for others.  The Studies show that children who are breastfed on demand, cuddled and played with, who have plenty of adult attention and spend time with children of different ages, develop better morally and happily.

Three new studies led by Narvaez show a relationship between child rearing practices common in foraging hunter-gatherer societies (how we humans have spent about 99 percent of our history) and better mental health, greater empathy and conscience development, and higher intelligence in children.

Fascinating in a kind of ‘well duh’ kind of way. It is something that I have been discussing with a friend for some months now. She is training with the NCT and has three very young children. It’s tough going. She has a lot of very good family support from her MIL and others, but even so, she still spends an inordinate amount of time alone with the kids. When she is at my house, I am sure that is a more natural environment for children to flourish there’s a lot of children of all ages, two adult mothers and another adult young lady around. We share the tasks and food and all the rest of it while our men are out hunting (or being Youth workers and Nurse Therapists as the case may be).  it s much nearer the mutuak extended family and community suppert seen in hunter gatherer societies. My friend is a confident woman and excellent mother, but even she has had wobbly days when stuck in the house all day with three sick kids. (ages 3, 2 and 4 months so you get the picture). I am convinced that isn’t a natural way to have to parent.

It’s something that has been playing on my mind for years. I remember watching Ray Mears among the bush people of Africa and seeing the way they lived. It struck me how gentle and generous they came across as a people, not just one or two in the tribe, but the whole lot of them. Children were everywhere and obviously loved and respected. These people obviously had something that is far too often missing in our “modern” life.

That is not to say I am willing to swallow everything this Notre Dame Prof has to say.  I can’t help noticing that her study findings are all terribly trendy these days and not necessarily accurate for all children. We can’t all carry our babies in slings for example and as for natural childbirth ROFL – yeah if you are lucky enough. For the rest of us, thank God for surgeons!

On breastfeeding I do sort of agree although I can’t imagine many children who have access to lots of good food requiring breast feeding much past the age of 3. All mine finished for themselves before that – about18 mths  or 2 and 1/2. I do know of someone whose son fed until he was 4. Certainly though the immune system boost is very important and I am convinced it saved Avila’s life once. Everything the medics put down that NG tube came back with force until uncomfortable me asked for a pump. After a chase to another hospital altogether for such a thing, I was able to pump milk which when put down that NG tube STAYED down.  That and the IV did the trick in the end.

This article on EBF is very good and it’s not preachy. The author manages to write about this important subject without slamming mothers who have been unable to bf for long, or at all. There’s a lot better understanding these days about how breastfeeding works for the health of both mother and child. Co-sleeping goes with this and has been shown to save lives. I’ve talked about that before.

Prof Narvaez also has a lot of evidence on her side of course. Her view that American children are growing up with far too much mental illness, ADHD, ADD and general misery is one that is replicated here in the UK as recent research pointed out. I do not doubt that more and more research will be published that says the same thing. If we want to avoid huge health care and prison costs in the future we had better become better parents, extended families and communities pdq.

Perhaps the first step would be a family wage where it would be economically and culturally viable for one parent to be home with the children. Communities could build from there. The primary carer for babies and toddlers appears to need to be the mother, so a cultural shift away from forcing mothers into work would be needed, along with raising the status of motherhood and massively raising respect for children. 

It’s as simple and grossly difficult as making the needs of children paramount over the wants of adults.

8 responses to “I’m trying to be that neanderthal parent.

  1. Very interesting! Once my comment reached about 750 words, I decided I’d best just put something on my own blog! Thanks for sharing this.

  2. More great stuff from Mum6kids. Thank you.

  3. Pingback: Autism

  4. You know, it isn’t just needing a ‘family wage’, because any business can only pay an employee what it can and remain profitable and in business (product development, overhead etc) but on the other hand, modern governments tax so high and waste so much on their idiotic bureaucracies. Just the paperwork for one child, at least here in the states, is enough to deforest a countryside. The nonsense, ever increasing government spending is another pet peeve of mine.

    They waste money on social engineering that never works as promised, yet want more money for the next one, wast money on programs and schemes that are inefficient, ineffective and often socially damaging and sometimes deadly (as in the unborn child, the sick-poor elderly). If governments honestly cut even the most obvious wasteful and useless spending and the deadweight employees who do nothing but collect salaries for wasting our time on the phone giving us wrong information and bad attitude time and again, we’d have less tax and lower expenses. But they won’t do that. They instead, increase these things and burden us further.

    A mark of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results, or living in a fantasy that does not exist in fact.

    Governments are run by the insane.

    • many a true word there my friend.
      One way many married men with children could bring home a family wage would be if married couples were no longer taxed at 40% above everyone else.
      Child benefit and the unbelievably incompetant child tax credit thing could be scrapped by simply allowing parents to keep the money they have earned.

      Certainly small businesses can’t be expected to make up in a wage packet for what the Govt steals (and it is theft if there is no justifiable reason for doing it).

      I can’t help thinking I would not have had to go through the horrible process of claiming Disability if dh just brought home what he earned.

      I don’t doubt there would still need to be some kind of benefit system – but in my dreamy distributist mind I wonder about parishes taking care of their local poor families- both in terms of finance and by having a real live caring human being THERE for them.
      Surely that would be better than what happens now – people who are already struggling with what life has thrown at them having to find extra strength to battle a cold robotic system.

  5. I remember that interminable hour between four and five when Maddie was young. I used to call it The Long Dark Teatime Of The Soul. We had moved back to be with our extended family and my father would always come to sit with Maddie and I at that time. It was wonderful.

    Now my sister lives just two minutes away, my mother in law in the next street and my mother across town. And I wouldn’t have it any other way, despite being a very private person. You are right: extended families mean my children have a ring of people who love them, know their strengths and foibles, and have the same ethos. We all grab opportunities to love, teach and be with the five children in our circle. It is just fabulous.

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