The genesis for this book was a growing acknowledgement that the experience of childhood in modern, upper-echelon society looks drastically different from both historical and cross-cultural antecedents. Anthropologists studying childhood find a great range of “normal” childhood experiences that, nevertheless, might be considered highly unorthodox—even harmful—by current “informed” parents and professionals. Raising Children uses insights drawn from the anthropology of childhood to serve as a lens to critically examine contemporary childhood.
Attention is drawn to areas of greatest contrast between “WEIRD” society and almost everyone else. In the process, the author shows why contemporary parents experience so much uncertainty and doubt about their success. A common thread is that we are, by historical standards, guilty of over-parenting, of doing too much for our children and micro-managing their lives. Children in other cultures have much greater freedom to learn, take risks and develop as confident, self-sufficient members of their culture. Among the many topics covered include: infant care and attachment; children’s “privacy;” children’s access to real world scenes and objects from which they can learn independently; the downside of turning each child into a “unique individual;” free vs adult-managed play; fruitless efforts to insure the child is always happy; why children may be reluctant scholars and; the origins of the “failure to launch.”
Raising Children: Surprising Insights From Other Cultures. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 1108415091 $19.29. paperback, $16.00 Kindle. 209 pages