I recently encountered THIS article discussing research published earlier this year by a research team at Notre Dame University studying modern American parenting practices and their effects on child development. Read the original article to get the full flavor of their research, but I’ll paste in the meat of the article below:
“Ill-advised practices and beliefs have become commonplace in our culture, such as the use of infant formula, the isolation of infants in their own rooms or the belief that responding too quickly to a fussing baby will ‘spoil’ it,” Narvaez says.
This new research links certain early, nurturing parenting practices — the kind common in foraging hunter-gatherer societies — to specific, healthy emotional outcomes in adulthood, and has many experts rethinking some of our modern, cultural child-rearing “norms.”
“Breast-feeding infants, responsiveness to crying, almost constant touch and having multiple adult caregivers are some of the nurturing ancestral parenting practices that are shown to positively impact the developing brain, which not only shapes personality, but also helps physical health and moral development,” says Narvaez.
Studies show that responding to a baby’s needs (not letting a baby “cry it out”) has been shown to influence the development of conscience; positive touch affects stress reactivity, impulse control and empathy; free play in nature influences social capacities and aggression; and a set of supportive caregivers (beyond the mother alone) predicts IQ and ego resilience as well as empathy.
As soon as my eyes crossed these words – ‘nurturing parenting practices – the kind common in foraging hunter-gatherer societies’ – I started pumping my fist in the air – “BANA CHITI! BANA ROBERT! BANA MAPALO! Where are you ladies! They’re writing about you!”
I’m not such a fan of the word choice “foraging-hunter-gatherer” but whatever, the scientific community and a top research institution has publically announced that smarty-pants America is (on average) getting it wrong and my neighbor ladies are (on the whole!) GETTING IT RIGHT. This is BIG!
Many of the women I know are easily intimidated by the well educated, western world that is forever sending “experts” to come and teach them how to run their lives. I’ve seen them sit meekly under authoritative teaching about everything topic imaginable; and while a lot of change is needed, I just feel like its high time someone shouts it out that these ladies have something teach their western counterparts. You’re in the game, ladies! Don’t call this a comeback, you’ve been here for years!
I long to be a cheerleader to these moms, to tell them that their normal, natural everyday methods have been proven to produce smart, resilient, empathetic children. I wish I could give them an earpiece to hear the murmuring of American parents debating this and that and everything… and then give them the chance to school us all in how to be attachment parents with nothing but grace, strength and fluidity. Ladies, hats off to you. If I could put you all on a plane and fly you to Indiana to speak at a research convention, I would. Because I think you’re awesome and you have taught me so much. Thank you.