anthropology of parenting

Ok, did anybody else see this article from the New Yorker? A friend from college posted it on FB and I was riveted. I love how anthropology helps me make sense of my life. I knew of the Machigenka growing up because we knew missionaries working with them. We lived in Quechua villages, where we similarly saw toddlers using machetes and 7-year-olds fishing for crayfish by themselves. Injuries and accidents were actually very rare.

I’m working very hard to try to shift the way I see my daughter, especially. I am so quick to jump in and help anytime she is frustrated but I need to realize that helping can be, in the long run, hurting her sense of confidence and autonomy.

A quote I heard last week really, really stuck with me: “children are hard-wired for struggle.” It astonished me, but it makes so much sense when I think about it. I dimly recall something about baby chicks – that if you help them break out of their eggs, you actually damage them. They have to struggle through that themselves in order to live and thrive.

I was also astonished last week to receive three – three! – compliments on my parenting. Out of the blue, people went out of their way to tell me they’d noticed how I interact with my children and communicate their approval. I know I’m way too dependent on external validation – but I have to say that it felt really, really good.

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10 Responses to “anthropology of parenting”

  1. Heather Says:

    Thanks for your comment on my blog!
    I’m glad you are back.
    Ireland the article you mentioned with a lot of interest. It is because my mom is driving me mad at the moment. Yes I appreciate her help, but the constant “breast feeding channel” is driving me nuts. I do appreciate all she has done but it will be nice to have the house to myself so I can figure these things out without her hovering.

  2. Heather Says:

    Sorry, I read, not Ireland.

  3. KeAnne Says:

    I had read that article! Very interesting. It’s a very good wake up call because sometimes it is so much easier to do something for my son instead of making him do it for himself.

  4. Tarable Says:

    A parenting compliment is one of the best compliments there is to get!

  5. Rachel Says:

    Doesn’t it feel good to be validated, that yep, you are doing it right? Good job, don’t under estimate yourself.

    I read Bringing up Bebe, it was fascinating to me how different the cultures parent. I do think Americans as a whole under estimate their children and I know I’m guilty of it. I don’t think my kids will still be living at home in adulthood though.

    • Elizabeth Says:

      Yeah, I don’t see you as the kind of mom who would write her kid’s college application essay for them, either!
      I was thinking of you – actually since you posted some time ago about your interest in parenting in different cultures, trying to think of books to recommend. A lot of the ones I’ve read are kind of heavy on the theory. I just thought of a couple articles though that I could e-mail to you if you’re interested.

  6. St. Elsewhere Says:

    What a fascinating article! Thank you for pointing me to it….and I can see so much truth in it.

    And well, congrats on your compliments…you must be doing things right then! 🙂

  7. DandelionBreeze Says:

    Sounds fascinating… we probably do pamper our kids a little too much now a days and can learn so much from others. Thank you for your inspiration and you sound like you’re an amazing parent xoxo

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