Hunt, Gather, Parent: What Ancient Cultures Can Teach Us About the Lost Art of Raising Happy, Helpful Little Humans

by Michaeleen Doucleff

Book, 2021


Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster (2021), 352 pages


Family & Relationships. Sociology. Nonfiction. HTML:NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER The oldest cultures in the world have mastered the art of raising happy, well-adjusted children. What can we learn from them? "Hunt, Gather, Parent is full of smart ideas that I immediately wanted to force on my own kids." �??Pamela Druckerman, The New York Times Book Review When Dr. Michaeleen Doucleff becomes a mother, she examines the studies behind modern parenting guidance and finds the evidence frustratingly limited and often ineffective. Curious to learn about more effective parenting approaches, she visits a Maya village in the Yucatán Peninsula. There she encounters moms and dads who parent in a totally different way than we do�??and raise extraordinarily kind, generous, and helpful children without yelling, nagging, or issuing timeouts. What else, Doucleff wonders, are Western parents missing out on? In Hunt, Gather, Parent, Doucleff sets out with her three-year-old daughter in tow to learn and practice parenting strategies from families in three of the world's most venerable communities: Maya families in Mexico, Inuit families above the Arctic Circle, and Hadzabe families in Tanzania. She sees that these cultures don't have the same problems with children that Western parents do. Most strikingly, parents build a relationship with young children that is vastly different from the one many Western parents develop�??it's built on cooperation instead of control, trust instead of fear, and personalized needs instead of standardized development milestones. Maya parents are masters at raising cooperative children. Without resorting to bribes, threats, or chore charts, Maya parents rear loyal helpers by including kids in household tasks from the time they can walk. Inuit parents have developed a remarkably effective approach for teaching children emotional intelligence. When kids cry, hit, or act out, Inuit parents respond with a calm, gentle demeanor that teaches children how to settle themselves down and think before acting. Hadzabe parents are experts on raising confident, self-driven kids with a simple tool that protects children from stress and anxiety, so common now among American kids. Not only does Doucleff live with families and observe their methods firsthand, she also applies them with her own daughter, with striking results. She learns to discipline without yelling. She talks to psychologists, neuroscientists, anthropologists, and sociologists and explains how these strategies can impact children's mental health and development. Filled with practical takeaways that parents can implement immediately, Hunt, Gather, Parent helps us rethink the ways we relate to our children, and reveals a universal parenting paradigm adapted for America… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Tytania
I really can't say why I wanted to read this book nor why I loved it, considering I am not a parent, have never been a parent, have never in my adult life wanted to be a parent, am definitely not a regular reader of parenting books, and skip just about anything related to parenting in all other
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media as well.

But this was a book about culture. The insane author takes her three-year-old to three different destinations around the world, each wilder than the last, to learn what the cultures there can teach her about parenting and her troubles with Rosy.

From the Maya of Yucatan, she learned about 'acomodido' - how children learn to be accommodating, to help without being asked, to know what help is needed without being told. From the Inuit of Baffin Island, she learned how to be calm, and raise a calmer child. From the Hadzabe of Tanzania, she learned about autonomy, how children can be independent yet still taught that they must be a help to their family and tribe.

Some might say she idealizes these other cultures. Sometimes yes, it is hard to believe everything is always as smooth and beautiful as she describes. But it's meant to be a kind of self-help book. There's lots of repetition of the lessons of each section, literal repetition - I always hate summary pages that tell me what I just read; I read for a story, and they interrupt the flow.

Nevertheless, none of this detracted for me from the fun of visiting with these families around the world, and seeing how different family life can be from what we are used to here. As for the author and her trouble child, I really enjoyed spending time with them, too. Rosy's tantrums can be hysterical, when enjoyed from my safe distance. Hearing how well new methods worked to calm her down was rewarding. In the end, I'm sad tonight that I'm done with the book and won't have any time with Rosy and Michaeleen anymore. That's at least a four star book right there.
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Original publication date



1982149671 / 9781982149673
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