Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Anthropologist book on moms in the village

A famous anthropologist has a new book on mothers, and this review looks at whether it really takes a village to raise a child:
The study of attachment coincided with second-wave feminism, the large-scale reentry of women into the labor force of industrial countries, and the rise of day care as a practical solution for working women with ambition or with no other choice. ... The predicted dire consequences of our recent departures from those traditions have not so far materialized. ... Still, life is long, and there remain reasons for concern about this vast social experiment. ...

Hrdy’s book cannot resolve questions concerning the mental health of children not cared for by their mothers, but it provides a relevant cross-cultural and evolutionary perspective on such care. First, the ethnological record shows that the nuclear family, although not rare, has not been common either, and it has always occurred within a broader social setting. Polygynous families (with two or more wives), polyandrous families (with two or more husbands), extended families under a single roof, mother-child households in a compound comprising several wives of a powerful man, and other arrangements have long shown that isolated nuclear households — mom, dad, kids — are not necessarily the human norm.
Sarah Hrdy is an advocate of
alloparenting, where individuals other than the actual parents act in a parental role. She is a big advocate of govt day care for kids, based on her study of monkeys and others.

It is great that anthropologists are studying African apes and New Guinea tribes, but I am having a hard time seeing how this relates to American society. Western civilization became great in part because it rejected those alternate family models, and adopted a Judeo-Christian nuclear family. The more anthropologists discover that primitive societies have other social structures, that only gives more reason to make sure that our American society does not break down into something resembling those primitive societies.

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