Sometimes it seems that there’s an entirely new academic discipline loosely titled:
“Parents today don’t know what they’re doing”
The latest is from David Lancy, a Utah anthropology professor who published an article about how “mother-child play” [sic — dads don’t get covered] is rare in human history and not the norm even today.
An anthropologist should know better than to apply his research to real, on-the-ground parenting questions. And I should know better, perhaps, than to pay any attention to him, but these self-styled experts get my goat.
So anyway, Lancy says that in those few cultures where adults play with kids, they do so out of boredom. That is to say, a coddled stay-at-home daddy like me is about the same as a snowbound Inuit families. Oh, and besides, since our forebears never engaged in direct play with kids, it’s only overfed modern Westerners who consider it a virtue.
To which I can only say: our ancestors also didn’t brush their teeth. Or vaccinate. Or blog. I’m sticking with those innovations of modern society, and I’m sticking with playing with my baby, and any other kids that’ll let me, too.
Even more divisive, Lancy says in an interview that since poor, minority families are less likely to engage in this sort of “hands and knees” play, then we who believe in that sort of parenting are racist and classist.
Doesn’t this remind you of the debates last year about whether or not we should praise our kids?
Cultures vary, in some ways for the better (eradication of some diseases) and in some ways for the worse (suburban blight), but in most ways, they just adapt to their local conditions and their history. Families vary, too: what works for me might not work for you.
What works for all of us, though, is finding a balance between following advice and trusting our instincts — and, I can almost promise you, ignoring this opinion of yet another ill-informed, self-styled “expert.”