5

votes

Does it take a village to raise a child?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 21, 2010 at 1:54 AM

From my experience so far, it sure does. Small bands of human hunter/gatherers certainly would have had a depth of knowledge passed directly from parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles. Not to romanticize the whole thing, but the extended family dynamic would have been crucial to survival, it seems.

Five days into having a new born in the house, I see the value of extended family support. This would have been in the context of a safe/healthy pregnancy and birth. Getting the infant protected and fed and reared up into a functional unit of the group. The info of where to hunt/gather foods, techniques for survival, just a vast self perpetuating history and knowledge base.

There is certainly a disconnect in modern life from much of this.

0d2dec01a5ed9363a9915e111ae13f7e

(4583)

on April 21, 2010
at 07:59 AM

That's true, the USA is not the world. Typical behavior around our area seems somewhat removed from this family involvement. I suppose there is an overall trend away from cohesive nuclear families, but there are certainly exceptions, maybe even a ground swell back to more nuclear family involvement, sure would like to think so.

0d2dec01a5ed9363a9915e111ae13f7e

(4583)

on April 21, 2010
at 07:57 AM

Extended childhood indeed. Just go look at the suburban mall/shopping center at the preteen and teens enjoying a lavish expenditure of cash to enjoy being passively entertained by electronics, retail consumer goods etc.

Ce0b5fd94b1034e96cf710b6f138c29d

(4089)

on April 21, 2010
at 03:18 AM

@Tim: agreed; the sort of extended childhood we enjoy now would be an un-heard-of luxury in Grok's day. In particular, children could likely make significant contributions in terms of gathering.

0d2dec01a5ed9363a9915e111ae13f7e

(4583)

on April 21, 2010
at 03:06 AM

I recall driving a big grain truck at 12 years old to help out on my Uncle's farm. 10 minutes of instruction and I'm in charge of moving a several ton vehicle! So the kids were likely a bit of conscripted labor, too, everyone pulls their weight makes sense!

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8 Answers

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2
52cae90a114ca8f0404948e2b7ccb7ef

(1595)

on April 21, 2010
at 10:54 PM

It probably does help. There are some other parenting practices that I consider to be paleo-friendly: breast feeding, baby wearing, and co-sleeping. I think the kids call that attachment parenting these days. Back in the paleo days, we just called it parenting.

1
8e3782b68e033763485472f414f507a5

(2433)

on April 21, 2010
at 09:42 PM

Indeed. The book "Hunter-Gatherer Childhoods" refers to this as alloparenting, and shows it to be extremely common in H/G cultures.

0
9dce97b4c4762a78a577a11585eef8f2

(1239)

on April 21, 2010
at 09:55 PM

A resounding yes, in so many ways. We have two small children, and having family nearby is a huge help (we even share a duplex with my husband's sister), but I have often longed for a much tighter community within which to raise them. I am fortunate enough to be a stay at home mom, but it can be incredibly isolating. I imagine how wonderful it would be to share my day and my tasks with other mothers, for my kids to have a group of peers to learn from and play with. I definitely fantasizes about this when struggling with milk supply, and sent out pleas for extra pumped milk for my newborn; how much easier to have another lactating woman in my tribe offer my baby her breast? I'm sure that happened all the time in days past...

It is insane to me that families are so cut off from the rest of society, and yet we expect our children to have an inclusive consciousness. I'd love a village, or a tribe, myself!

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 21, 2010
at 08:59 PM

It's worthwhile to note that many cultures still live in extended family groups. Some rural Chinese, rural Mexicans, etc.

I've always thought they were doing something right

0
Abb08da08e327d776926f2c9e4856582

(225)

on April 21, 2010
at 08:52 PM

Boy, it would sure help! We have a 14-month-old and he's amazing/wonderful/hilarious/sweet/etc., but we don't have any local family. Our friends don't really hang around a lot and we live out of town. So basically, it's my husband and I tag-teaming to take care of him whenever we're not at work (he goes to a small, lovely, in home daycare for ~30 hours per week, I guess if anything, that's our village). We also have try to raise as much of our food as humanly possible and have a small acreage of alfalfa that we irrigate with hand lines. I don't say this to complain, but it's hard sometimes!

I think that a lot of things that are truly tough about raising a child wouldn't be so bad if we had that village to help us out. Our son's considerable sleep issues wouldn't be such a big deal is we had a little more spare time and could nap with him more often. I love to nap with my son, but it means giving up my only time during the day that I can get stuff done without feeling bad that I'm keeping my husband from getting his stuff done. We have been on a 2 dates since Dex was born because we can't afford a babysitter + whatever we want to do with a date. It's tough on a marriage to have no time to re-connect.

Those are just two little examples of major stresses that parents deal with when there is no village for them to fall back on. I would guess that a lot of crappy parenting is born of that exhaustion and that lack of village has contributed to many a failed marriage.

0
78ecfc8268ec58cdc189301f4b071088

(1670)

on April 21, 2010
at 03:22 AM

Note a distinct difference between life in the USA and in third-world or semi-third-world countries. In Argentina, for all of its modern trappings, children are reared by the village: for example, grandchildren almost always spend their full-weekends with their grandparents - so here, everyone grows up close to their grandparents, grandparents have their waning days filled with joy, and parents have the weekends free to go out and see their friends. An interesting combination of ancient yet modern. I happen to like it!

0d2dec01a5ed9363a9915e111ae13f7e

(4583)

on April 21, 2010
at 07:59 AM

That's true, the USA is not the world. Typical behavior around our area seems somewhat removed from this family involvement. I suppose there is an overall trend away from cohesive nuclear families, but there are certainly exceptions, maybe even a ground swell back to more nuclear family involvement, sure would like to think so.

0
8347d512bca9b034d53da40dab8cd21c

on April 21, 2010
at 03:05 AM

I believe that it does -- I think if anything, the more exposure to more people and personality types, the more enriched the child becomes.

0
Ce0b5fd94b1034e96cf710b6f138c29d

on April 21, 2010
at 02:51 AM

No kids on my end, but I do enjoy teaching my niece and nephews useful outdoors skills; fishing, shooting, firelighting. I'd expect that hunter/gatherer groups would have had all adult members of the group teaching all the kids from as soon as the kids were able to walk. And the kids would likely have worked/foraged/etc. from an early age too.

So yes.

0d2dec01a5ed9363a9915e111ae13f7e

(4583)

on April 21, 2010
at 03:06 AM

I recall driving a big grain truck at 12 years old to help out on my Uncle's farm. 10 minutes of instruction and I'm in charge of moving a several ton vehicle! So the kids were likely a bit of conscripted labor, too, everyone pulls their weight makes sense!

Ce0b5fd94b1034e96cf710b6f138c29d

(4089)

on April 21, 2010
at 03:18 AM

@Tim: agreed; the sort of extended childhood we enjoy now would be an un-heard-of luxury in Grok's day. In particular, children could likely make significant contributions in terms of gathering.

0d2dec01a5ed9363a9915e111ae13f7e

(4583)

on April 21, 2010
at 07:57 AM

Extended childhood indeed. Just go look at the suburban mall/shopping center at the preteen and teens enjoying a lavish expenditure of cash to enjoy being passively entertained by electronics, retail consumer goods etc.

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