Darcia Narvaez and her paleofantasy of infancy

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Darcia Narvaez is at it again.

You may remember her as the author of the “Sanctimommy Manifesto,” a wholesale substitution of her personal preferences for actual science. The Notre Dame psychology professor is blithering yet more nonsense about what babies need and in the process falling victim to a paleofantasy of infancy.

Her latest screed, Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Babies, is filled with nonsense from beginning to end.

Narvaez starts with this “insight”:

Have you noticed all the stressed babies? Maybe one in 30 I see has glowing eyes, which I take as a sign of thriving.

Dr. Narvaez, you really need to get out more or get new friends and acquaintances. It is horrifying that you live in a dystopian world where 29 out of 30 babies are stressed out. The rest of us, however, live in the real world with healthy, happy babies who grow into healthy, happy, well adjusted adults.

And what’s with the glowing eyes? Perhaps you have babies confused with kittens and puppies whose retinas do indeed reflect light and appearing to be glowing.

Narvaez is a big fan of paleofantasy. According to Professor Marlene Zuk, author of the book Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us About Sex, Diet and How We Live explains:

It is striking how fixated on the alleged behavior of our hunting-and-foraging forbearers some educated inhabitants of the developed world have become. Among the most obsessed are those who insist … that “our bodies and minds evolved under a particular set of circumstances, and in changing those circumstances without allowing our bodies time to evolve in response, we have wreaked the havoc that is modern life.” Not only would we be happier and healthier if we lived like “cavemen,” this philosophy dictates, but “we are good at things we had to do back in the Pleistocene … and bad at things we didn’t.”

Indeed, according to Narvaez:

Babies are social mammals with social mammalian needs. Social mammals emerged more than 30 million years ago with intensive parenting (a developmental nest or niche). This is one of the many (extra-genetic) things that evolved other than genes. This developmental nest is required for an individual to develop properly. Intensive parenting practices for babies include years of breastfeeding to develop brain and body systems, nearly constant touch and physical presence of caregivers, responsiveness to needs preventing distress, free play with multi-aged playmates, and soothing perinatal experiences. Each of these has significant effects on physical health.

What a bunch of baloney! Are we supposed to believe that all mammalian offspring have the same needs? Are we supposed to believe that the needs of mammals have not changed from those of prehistoric marsupials? Are we supposed to believe that human babies need the same things as rat pups?

Moreover, adults are also mammals with social mammalian needs and, as far as I know, those needs do not include advice from psychology professors since neither professors nor psychology existed 30 million years ago. Should we therefore conclude that we would be much better off in the absence of professors and psychology?

Just in case you missed the evidence that Narvaez is making it up as she goes along, she helpfully offers this ludicrous observation on our hunter-gatherer ancestors:

They are much wiser, perceptive and virtuous than we humans in the USA today.

The myth of the noble savage!

Narvaez expounds:

Of course, every human community is not perfect but when you provide young children with their basic needs, they are less aggressive and self-centered.

How do we know that? Because ancient peoples were peace loving environmentalists and war did not occur until the 20th Century, right? Wrong! Primates, including humans, can be violent and vicious, engaging in everything from domestic abuse of females with roving eyes, to bloody territorial battles, to actually EATING other primates. Sounds really virtuous, doesn’t it?

Not surprisingly nearly everything that Narvaez writes is the product of her fevered imagination and has no basis in science.

My personal favorite is this bit of nonsense:

Culture does not erase the evolved needs babies have. Babies cannot retract their mammalian needs.

Actually, culture modifies nearly everything. Culture includes houses, central heating, birth balls, baby slings and nursing bras.

Moreover, evolution did not stop 30 million years ago, or even 30 thousand years ago. To claim that contemporary infants are exactly the same as infants 30 million years ago or even 30 thousand years ago is bizarre. Adults are different in many ways than they were 30,000 years ago: they can digest lactose, carry genetic resistance to malaria, and behave quite differently. There’s no reason to imagine that while adults evolved, infants stayed exactly the same.

In fact, infants are not terribly different from Dr. Narvaez herself. Does she live like our ancestors from 30 million years ago? Is she walking on all four limbs, swinging naked in the trees and reproducing endlessly? No, Narvaez walks on two feet, does not climb trees on a regular basis and is childless. Clearly she hasn’t met her own mammalian needs. Should we conclude, therefore, that by wearing clothes, going to college and writing for Psychology Today that Dr. Narvaez is one of those:

… whose health and sociality are compromised (which we can see all over the USA today with epidemics of depression, anxiety, high suicide and drug use rates). Such mis-raised creatures might do all right on achievement tests or IQ measures but they may also be dangerous reptiles whose world revolves around themselves…[?]

Possibly. Fortunately it should be easy to determine:

All we need to know is whether her eyes glow!

  • Meerkat

    I keep thinking that this Paleo fantasy is very prevalent in foodie circles, too. My friend just spent an hour telling me that what we are poisoning ourselves, and we need to eat like our wise ancestors. While I agree that eating a diet rich in whole foods like fruit, veggies, proteins and carbs is healthier and processed food is bad, ” perfect” Paleo diet is a myth. For most of human history majority of people didn’t have enough to eat, so getting your hands on any food was considered lucky… I don’t think that perfect diet ever existed, as people had to adapt to their environment and survive, and perfect child rearing techniques don’t exist either.
    I agree with other commenters. Ms. Narvaez is not a parent, so any advice on parenting from her sounds hollow and silly. I had some ideas on parenthood before I became a parent and having my son turned my ideas upside down. My son hates being worn in a sling and doesn’t like to sleep with me. Heck, he even insists on eating all by himself, at 15 month old (my eye no longer twitches from the mess).

  • Sue

    Meh…Paelo is so YESTERDAY!

  • siri dennis

    You should see my little boy’s eyes glow as he plays Ratchet & Clank with his Daddy! Or hear him purr with contentment as he snuggles up with me in front of a Scooby Doo film…

  • Lynnie

    I personally have a hard time taking advice about child rearing from a person who doesn’t have children, no matter what their “credentials” are. It may be my own biased opinion, but a person has no right telling another person how to take care of their baby unless they have had the experience of night after night getting up with their newborn or teething baby or had the pleasure of caring for a sick child while sick themselves.
    I’m glad I didn’t read that article a couple years ago. I became immersed in the whole “natural parenting and birth” crowd after my son was born. Thankfully I didn’t get involved BEFORE my son was born because I could have put his and my life at risk if I refused my induction for high blood pressure. (I definitely felt guilt about it though for a long time.) I was also already feeling intense guilt about not trying to breastfeed as much as I “should” when things were not going well for breastfeeding. I was reading AP and natural parenting drivel calling formula “artificial milk” and saying that formula fed babies were disadvantaged and was facing a life time of health problems. (Of course, I could have just compared my son to some exclusively breastfed children that I spend a lot of time with. They were sick just as often, if not more so than my son.) It took a lot to pull myself out of the “natural parenting” mentality. When I tried to implement some of the principles of AP, my son actually became whinier and clingier and I began to let him walk all over me. Of course, AP advocates will probably say that I was doing it “wrong”, but AP actually went against my instincts. I have read that APers call AP “instinctual parenting”. Well, my instincts told me that when my son was overly tired and fighting sleep, that he probably would go to sleep a lot faster being left alone for a few minutes than me messing with him. That is just one example…. I was amazed about how much of AP or “natural parenting” just didn’t set right with me. Maybe my son is going to be one of the 29 out of 30 stressed children that don’t have iridescent eyes and will grow up to be a serial killer meth head because he drank formula and slept in a crib. I don’t know why I’m rambling so much. It’s WAY past my bedtime and rereading that article just set me on edge. I am just glad that I am over the whole AP natural parenting mentality, I just feel for those who are believing this drivel and are trying to live up to some imaginary mothering standard that is probably unobtainable. I mean, it’s OK for moms to have faults and failures. It’s OK for moms to be human who may be impatient at time or just want to leave the kids with a (OH, THE HORROR) a babysitter and have grown up time with their significant other for a few hours.

    • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

      I have never understood AP, it seems to presume that every baby is the same and will react in the same way. My fried had a very calm, quiet baby who loved being in a sling or baby Bjorn carrier and wanted to be held all the time.

      I got quite the surprise when my daughter was born, she loved being held “sometimes” like if she was sleepy, hungry or not feeling well. But most of the time when she was awake and alert she wanted to at least be up on your shoulder or being held facing out so she could see everything. If you held her cuddled up facing you she got fussy and restless. At 4 or 5 months she wanted to be on the floor, scooting around or rolling herself over to whatever looked interesting.

      She HATED the sling. She’s now a happy, friendly, seemingly well adjusted 19 year old. We(my husband and I) had so much fun when she was growing up, finger painting, building block towers and Lego castles, coloring together, stomping in rain puddles, doing kitchen chemistry, going to the park and the zoo and the train station. There is a lot more to bonding than whether you use a sling, breastfeed or co-sleep. What works for your family, works for your family. It might work for someone else or something else might work better. Each baby is different and has their own personality.

      • SkepticalGuest

        On the other hand, I think there is such a backlash against AP that sometimes people accused us of *making* our baby need cosleeping or babywearing because we had some philosophical attachment to it. The reality is that we tried a wide range of things and this is what kept our kid relatively comfortable and allowed him to get some sleep.

        One friend once watched how I parented and said, “I’m glad I’m not doing AP because this looks like too much work.”

        But it was more work NOT because I was following a philosophy but because I had a higher-needs kid. In our case, it turned out our kid had some underlying medical issues that our pediatrician missed–as well as one that she caught–and that’s what made him “higher needs”, not my parenting.

        • Young CC Prof

          I’m a big fan of doing what works for your kid and your family. There are many reasonable ways to parent, and (within the range of reasonable choices of course) outsiders are generally not in a position to judge whether you’ve chosen the right one.

        • Jennifer2

          We did a lot better once we stopped trying to blindly follow any sort of parenting philosophy (AP or anything else) and started just doing whatever worked best for us. There were AP things that worked really well for us – for example, cloth diapers were like magic for containing runny newborn poop. Other things didn’t – we all slept better after moving our son to his own room at 3 months because we weren’t waking each other up all night. There were things we did because we were lazy (like napping in the recliner with a baby on our laps instead of trying to force him to nap in his crib or a pack ‘n’ play). And there were things we definitely did not do because we were lazy (my struggles with breastfeeding led to intrusive thoughts of chopping my breasts off with a kitchen knife, so formula seemed like a reasonable alternative to that). But once we really focused on our son’s personality and our personalities and our lifestyle and asked whether certain things would fit with those, we found parenting to be a lot, lot, lot easier.

  • ol

    I think that these paleofantasies work in the same way as scientification (I’m not sure in my English) – when someone has an important idea and other people do not share it and do not understand, this person may feel the need to prove his idea through addressing to the authority of higher level that is recognised in society. This authority may be science (“Scientists proved that I’m right”) or religion. Or reference to old times where all lived in right way. I wonder why paleofantasies are about parenting, sex (man-woman relations as extremly unequal or equal), food – all everyday spheres where someone may feel the need to justify his choice and lifestyle.

  • http://www.europeanmama.eu/ Olga Mecking

    I knew something was wrong with the article- why didn’t I check the author first and stop reading it???? Stupid me.

  • DiomedesV

    For fun, I went to her Notre Dame homepage and looked up her publication list (which was not all-inclusive, but perhaps had the ones she was most proud of).

    It is long, but it is largely filled with commentary articles and books. Very little peer-reviewed scientific research and what little there is appears to be of middling quality. Basically, she’s made a “niche” for herself (yes, some of us know what that word means) spewing her own personal preferences from a position of imagined authority on a subject of which she knows very little (evolution).

    Here’s a general rule about “evolutionary psychology” and the people who practice it. 95% of it is bullshit. It is composed of 90% psychologists who think they know something about evolution but probably couldn’t explain the concepts of heritability (narrow sense and broad sense), natural selection, sexual selection, and genetic drift in three sentences or less each if you gave them all day long. They don’t know anything about genetics.

    The rest are evolutionary biologists who are drawn to “big questions” and like to dabble in theories about the evolutionary of morality, for example. Their very untestability makes these ideas particularly appealing to the evolutionary biologists that engage them, and I think that’s because many people, scientists or not, ultimately do not want to restrict themselves to evidence on topics that interest them.

    It’s not that these aren’t important questions, and there is some worthwhile research done on these subjects. But in my experience, most evolutionary biologists tend to be cautious about drawing sweeping conclusions about human behavior–what it is, has been, and should be–because they’re dyed-in-the-wool empiricists. Consequently, most evolutionary biologists have little respect for the field of evolutionary psychology.

    • Rebecca

      Narvaez’ full CV is available here:
      http://psychology.nd.edu/assets/105773/07_13narvaez.pdf

      She has a curious career trajectory. Master of Divinity in 1984, followed by a PhD in Educational Psychology. She earned tenure in the College of Education at Minnesota, then somehow made a lateral move to the Department of Psychology at Notre Dame in 2000. Her expertise is in Moral Development and Moral Education, while her CV has almost no academic contributions or qualifications related to evolutionary psychology.

  • amazonmom

    Both of my children lack the glowing eyes of superiority. Never mind that the pediatrician couldn’t stop playing with my son because of his exceptional alertness and advanced physical skills.

    • Bombshellrisa

      Oh but the ladies from Puget Sound Birth Center would disagree-your son can’t be “alert” or have advanced physical skills, he was born “drugged by an epidural” and via C-section! (Your baby must be so precious-makes me really look forward to meeting my little guy in February)

      • OttawaAlison

        My daughter was ultra alert too. I had morphine and an epidural and she didn’t seem phased by it one bit.

      • Guest

        Epidural, Stadol, General anesthesia, crash section. 8 APGAR. And 10 years later and not a a single school form NOT ONE has had a place for me to put that information. :(

        • Elizabeth A

          I keep looking for the line where I list how long I breastfed each kid, but the schools don’t seem to care about the paleo-nutritional place the students are coming from. There’s all this misplaced emphasis on what vaccines they’ve had and whether the need inhalers or epi-pens, and what language we speak at home.

          • Bombshellrisa

            I wish I could like this 50 times

  • SkepticalGuest

    Spot on…except that not all of us adult humans can digest lactose. In fact, some of us lose the ability quite young.

    In fact, given how young both me and my son became lactose intolerant, it’s likely that our genetics would’ve died out in primitive times when lactose-rich breastmilk was the only safe thing to drink.

    Other proof of our changing genetics (just to name one) is that the fact that so many of us in the developed world require corrective lenses. I would’ve been eaten my lions or fallen off a cliff before I hit puberty if it weren’t modern optometry.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      Not all of us have malaria resisting mutations either, but some of us do. The point, if I understand correctly, is that documented beneficial (for a given environment) have occurred and propagated in many human populations and we can’t be sure how many others have also done so since the time that Narvaez is romanticizing. (I’m a partial lactase mutant, BTW. Sigh.)

      • SkepticalGuest

        Exactly. Evolution didn’t stop with the cavemen!

    • Mishimoo

      I’m not at the point where I’d fall off a cliff, but my eyes are bad enough that when I wasn’t wearing glasses last night, I mistook a wolf spider for a cockroach!

      • anion

        Lucky. :-) I’m legally blind without correction.

  • anion

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but if we currently have “epidemics of depression, anxiety, high suicide and drug use rates,” and if those rates are somehow tied to how we were cared for as babies, wouldn’t that actually disprove her theory, since, say, a hundred years ago children were seen and not heard, babies were fed on and put to sleep on strict schedules, and nobody had ever heard of infant carriers or slings?

    Surely these epidemics are not taking place among people a hundred years old?

    • Dr Kitty

      Well opium, laudanum and cheap gin were easily available and widely used, so I’m not sure that the “epidemic of drug use” is a new thing…

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:GinLane.jpg

      • anion

        Absolutely. But the writer in question is behaving as if this is a brand-new problem caused specifically by non-attachment childrearing, and claiming a lot more problems than just drug addictions. My point is that if that were true, we would have seen more of these problems at a time when more people practiced stricter parenting, and it would be improving now.

        And there are a lot of other things that contributed to the levels of drug and alcohol use among people in the Victorian era, frex; the legality; the fact that babies, children, and adults were prescribed morphine and laudanum to help them sleep or for teething or any other thing; the fact that gin was cheap and water was dirty, and food and heat were scarce for the poor who were the main consumers; the fact that for a time it was fashionable, even. The fact is that humans have always sought ways to escape brutal reality.

    • ErynnSilver

      Actiually generally babies were kept nearby and fed on demand hundreds of years ago… so erm… yea. No. This extreme of behavior is new.

      • anion

        To which extreme are you referring? The epidemics, or the you-must-always-be-touching-your-baby stuff?

        And note that I didn’t say “hundreds of years ago,” but “a hundred years ago.” Note also that hundreds of years ago much of that on-demand feeding was done by wet nurses, not mothers, and that it was common for children to work long hours at difficult jobs, and/or for wealthy children to be married to arranged spouses very young, and/or for many children to die very young. Childhood was hardly a picnic throughout most of history.

      • anion

        Oh, btw, Erynn, I noticed your cheerleadering comment on the original article, complete with the smarmy and patronizing “so erm… yea[sic].”

      • Trixie

        Why were they kept nearby? Because unless you were really rich, your house was tiny, and probably jam packed with people. There was no other room to put the baby in.

        • Young CC Prof

          One room, smaller than many of our bedrooms. With an uncovered fire place and all sorts of sharp tools lying around, which meant you had to keep the baby swaddled until you could make him listen and stay put. On the up side, some swaddling boards came with a handle and a hook, so you could hang the baby on the wall when you needed to get some work done.

          Yup, infancy sure was idyllic in the old days.

      • auntbea

        You mean, assuming the mother had enough milk to feed on demand, right? And wasn’t using most of her milk as a wet nurse for someone wealthier? And didn’t have to leave her baby behind with God-knows-who while she moved to the city to work as domestic help or in a factory or as a prostitute? Is there no one is your imaginary history except for wealthy women who don’t work and peasants in the field with babies on their backs?

  • Dr Kitty

    http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/dec/15/how-to-be-a-good-mother

    I do not think Darcia and Suzanne Moore would get on.
    I DO know who I’d rather have as a dinner party guest/friend.

    “There is nothing natural. So give it up.Dying in childbirth at 26, your child getting TB at five is natural. Purée misshapen roots from the farmers’ market and pretend Monster Munch is not a vegetable? Were you always this much fun?”

  • fearlessformulafeeder

    Thanks, Dr. A, for this. I know I should just ignore Darcia, but she KILLS me. Just because she has a VOICE. People take her seriously b/c she’s a professor at Notre Dame, writes for Psychology Today, and has a “Dr.” by her name. You don’t know how many women I’ve had to talk off a cliff because of her rantings. I’ve considered writing to Notre Dame and asking them to do something about her bullshit, but she has tenure, I’m sure. Plus considering they also employ James McKenna, it seems that old ND is now a hotbed of woo.

  • Elle

    When I read/hear parenting advice from childless people, I tend to just kinda nod, roll my eyes, and move on. :-P

    • Carolina

      Careful. Some of the childfree/childless get mighty offended if you suggest that they don’t have all the answers for parenting children. It’s hilarious and eye-roll worthy

      • Elizabeth A

        I had all the answers to raising perfect children once too. Then I had actual children.

        My skills at raising perfect children remain untested. I got the ordinary kind.

        • resaurus

          I saw an excellent example of parenting on the subway once. A 30s-ish man with his two little kids (3 and 5? Couldn’t really tell) and the 3-year-old was saying some amusing, silly things. The 5-year-old is not being very nice to her younger sib, saying that whatever she is saying is wrong, stupid, etc. Well, this dad really made it a teachable moment! Pretty much saying “hey [older child], do you know everything? no? then don’t be mean to your sister. she doesn’t have as much experience as you. she hasn’t lived as long as you, so she doesn’t know. now apologize.” I wanted to buy that man a beer.

          • resaurus

            It was remarkable to me because he could have easily just yelled and told both of them to shut up, stop fighting, etc., as you might see among tired and frustrated parents on the subway…but he didn’t.

      • T.

        Actually, we mostly are just annoyed when we have to deal with tantrums in public places or such because the parents refuse to discipline the child, which happens rarely but it is exceedingly annoying when it does happen.

        Most childfree people don’t think about childraising more than the avarage people think about beetroot farming. It doesn’t really interest us.
        Can’t speak for childless, though.

        • Carolina

          Note that I did say “some” so I’m not sure why you are defensive. If you aren’t offering childrearing advice, it doesn’t apply to you.

          I wasn’t referring to anyone on this blog, but on some of the others I follow, there are commentators who believe their time babysitting/having siblings/etc. gives them some insight into discipline, feeding, work-life balance, balancing marriage v. child-rearing, etc. My favorite storm was a bunch of childfree/childless (and some unmarried) commentators lecturing parents on how to put their spouse first. Again, hilarious and eye-roll inducing.

          • T.

            People always seem to believe they know a lot of things they don’t, whatever it is uneducated high-schoolers that thinks they are better than Obs or chidless people who believe they know how to raise children…
            I think the fact neither have any real experience explain a lot :P

            Apologize for the defensiveness, Chidless and childfree being lumped together is a pet peeves of mine, I admit it :)

          • Certified Hamster Midwife

            If they’re trained psychotherapists, perhaps they have some insight. Otherwise, STFU.

        • Karen in SC

          I have to admit to judge-y feelings at times when I witness an epic fail. I wish I knew what to do to help.

          A few weeks ago, I was waiting with another adult couple at a popular restaurant. It was around 7:30 pm or later and the wait for a table was 45 minutes plus. It was nice enough we waited on the patio with some beers. There was a family with three children, who had been waiting already and the kids starting running around, misbehaving etc. It was outside so we didn’t mind until the mother started losing it and yelling.

          Okay, I happened to mention to my friends that the kids were no doubt tired and hungry and hello, there was a Panera bread company right next door, no line. I was thinking about going and buying them each a bagel or something, but mercifully they were called to a table. The couple I was with ordered them (anonymously) a dessert pizza and paid for it. I wonder if the parents realized why.

          • Stephanie

            Anecdotally I have been that mom. There us nothing I would like more than to take the kids yo fast food when traveling. The problem is with my kids being both celiac and lactose intolerant there’s not a whole lot they can eat when we travel. We have to wait for the restaurant that will do the custom dish.

          • SkepticalGuest

            @Stephanie: I feel your pain. My son and I both have celiac, as well as lactose intolerance and a cow milk protein allergy. It is SO hard to eat out, and the few times we are forced to, we choose places that are very knowledgeable about safety for celiacs and also have dairy-free options.

        • Jocelyn

          With my toddler, tantrums in public places happen far more when we ARE disciplining her, because we’re not giving her everything she wants.

          • me

            This a million times! You can’t have it both ways. Discipline causes tantrums. At least at first. There isn’t a parent alive that disciplines their children that hasn’t had to do ‘the walk of shame’ dragging a screaming toddler out of a store/restaurant/other establishment at least a few times. With consistency they do learn and it gets better, but believe me, the parent is WAY more annoyed and upset about it than any nosey nelly bystander could ever be.

          • Young CC Prof

            This, definitely. I try very hard to NOT be bothered by screaming kids, unless the kid is someplace that babies/toddlers simply shouldn’t be, like the theatre. (Grocery stores, restaurants and public transit are all reasonable places for children to be found. Non-parents need to deal.)

  • lilin

    If babies have the same needs they had 30 million years ago it should be fine not to breastfeed babies. Human milk, cow milk, goat milk, rat milk – it’s all paleokay!

  • Trixie

    I like how formula feeding and cribs are “violations” that are only permissible under life and death emergencies.

  • LovleAnjel

    “nearly constant touch and physical presence of caregivers…free play with multi-aged
    playmates”

    Now how does that work, exactly?

    • Trixie

      You strap them onto your back in your $200 carrier and crawl around on the floor amongst the other children, swinging them around to your front every 20 minutes in order to nurse? At least until they’re old enough for Waldorf school, amiright?

    • Ennis Demeter

      The multi-age thing is a buzzword for homeschooling. They like to say that being around kids of different ages (their own sibs) brings diveristy to education.

      • Jennifer2

        I agree that playing with multi-aged playmates is important, but I don’t see why that has to mean homeschooling. Especially if you only have one or two kids. Not much diversity there (although I’m sure it’s not “natcheral” to have only one or two kids). In-home daycare usually involves kids from infant to school-age. Most neighborhoods aren’t segregated by age of child. Even your child’s classmates in school probably have older and younger siblings. Cousins, neighbors, siblings of friends, friends of siblings, children of parents’ friends – all potential sources of multi-aged playmates for even the least crunchy of families.

  • Elizabeth A

    OT! My sister went into the hospital for her planned induction this morning. Pitocin was started around nine, and her healthy baby girl was born before noon. I have one picture and two texts since the birth, indicating that my beautiful new niece was snuggled up in her mother’s arms, and that the labor was short (obviously!) and easy.

    I don’t know if the baby is a Narvaez-approved werewolf. She was snoozing in the pic.

    • Jocelyn

      Woohoo! Congratulations to your sister!

  • Amy M

    I really don’t understand this mentality of: “Good mothers are miserable people with no lives, who do nothing other than spend every minute tending to their children and ensuring that said children are always happy, thriving, developing at least on track if not on an advanced timetable, are smarter than everyone else’s children, are NEVER injured or ill or upset and…they (the mothers) are thoroughly fulfilled by this sleepless, mind-numbing existence (DAMMIT!).” How has this managed to take hold so strongly? Is this why the birth rate is going down in Western countries? Or is this really just online, and most people figure out pretty quickly to do what works for them, which is often a much more moderate parenting method?

    I suspect most (Americans anyway) include aspects of “attachment parenting” and “mainstream parenting” (as defined by Dr.Sears, let’s say) in whatever amounts and ways makes sense for their situations, without really thinking too much about it. But, its hard to avoid all the references to attachment parenting and how that is supposedly the “right” way, according to so many loud so-called parenting experts like old Darcia here, and Dr. Sears, and various others who have sold lots of books and/or have popular websites. Certainly a lot of it has made its way into the mainstream, and I’ve seen lots of parents who would consider themselves mainstream refer to themselves, jokingly, as “bad parents” because they used formula or didn’t cosleep or something like that.

    Well, I say screw Darcia N and Dr. Sears. My husband and I don’t care what they think of us. We’ve used what would be considered a pretty mainstream style of parenting, and our children are happy and healthy. They seem to behave like typical almost-5yr old boys as far as I can tell and I’m not really worried about them. I think we are pretty good parents. Have we handled every situation perfectly? Of course not. Will the children turn out fine anyway? Most likely.

    • Young CC Prof

      I think most parents most of the time (after they’ve been doing it a few months, anyway) do adopt a blend of parenting ideas that works for them and works for their kids.

      Studies show that a wide range of parenting methods are all generally OK. (Extremes outside the range include abandoning your children in the wilderness, frequently refusing or failing to meet the child’s basic physical needs, never enforcing any rules at all, or keeping child in arm’s reach at all times for the first ten years.)

    • resaurus

      An excellent article at Slate on how “natural parenting” is just sexism in new clothes: reducing women to what their bodies can do and cloistering women into the domestic sphere. http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2012/09/10/natural_parenting_the_same_old_sexism_dressed_up_in_fancy_new_clothes_.html

  • AllieFoyle

    She’s….a professor?

    Consider my mind blown. She’s about as wrong as a person could be about both psychology and evolution, incredibly naive about the nature of life throughout most of human history, and painfully smug about child-rearing in the way that only someone who hasn’t ever had to spend hour upon hour providing the “intensive parenting” practices she advocates.

    • Becky05

      She’s an associate professor of psychology, apparently.

  • http://Www.awaitingjuno.blogspot.com/ Mrs. W

    You know what humans are – especially little humans: they’re scientists. Want to see a stressed out scientist, prevent them from testing hypothesis and learning about things on their own. Tell them what to do, how to do it and when to do it. Limiting humans to a coccoon attached to its mother where all it can do is snuggle and feed is stifling that human ‘s inner scientist. It’d be interesting to see who the stressed out kids really are…

  • theadequatemother

    That was the perfect thing after a sleepless night – scathing , hilarious and on point. Especially enjoyed the part about doing away with psychology AND professors. Thanks!

    • http://Www.awaitingjuno.blogspot.com/ Mrs. W

      That would fix the epidemic of depression…after all absent the DSM, does it exist?

      • The Computer Ate My Nym

        There has been an increase in the suicide rate in the past 10 years, but that is more likely attributable to the economy than any lack of paleofantasy environment.

        • http://Www.awaitingjuno.blogspot.com/ Mrs. W

          You could argue the bad economy brings humans closer to a Paleo-reality and that is really depressing… After all no job might lead you to have to hunt and gather for food, might limit your social interactions to your immediate family, and might make housing less tenable. So maybe humans really don’t do too well in a world that is more akin to what our forebears experienced.

        • Jennifer2

          I think there’s also much less religious/social/cultural stigma and taboo attached to suicide. There are fewer people who believe that suicide is a mortal sin. There are more people who understand that an attempt at suicide is a sign of illness and a desperate attempt at relieving profound, relentless mental anguish. There are also more mentally ill people in the community rather than locked away in hospitals and institutions, many of whom have limited access to adequate mental health treatment.

          Anecdotally, the closest I’ve ever been to suicidal was when I was failing at breastfeeding and truly began to believe my son would be better off without me. But I suppose I’m one of those mis-raised reptiles who does okay on IQ tests but was destroyed by formula, sleeping in a crib, etc.

          • Young CC Prof

            It’s also possible that more suicides are being accurately reported AS suicide rather than a more socially acceptable verdict of, say, accident or heart attack. (Or, in the case of military suicides, enemy action.)

          • Lisa Cybergirl

            You don’t hear about as many gun-cleaning accidents as you used to.

  • Young CC Prof

    Also, misuse of “niche.” In actual evolutionary theory, a niche is a physical habitat and food source that an organism has evolved to fit into. Parenting is a behavior that helps some animals survive in their niche.

    Humans’ niche is most of the planet, digesting everything other than cellulose. (And we’ll boil and chew grass, too, if we get hungry enough.)

  • Karen in SC

    Her credentials should be revoked for this nonsense.

  • Zornorph

    I could go on for ages about this whole ‘noble savage’ thing. I am currently re-reading the Tarzan books (read some as a boy, but it’s been a while – they are better than I had remembered) and that’s the basis of that story. Where it’s really funny is in The Son of Tarzan when Tarzan’s 12yo son winds up in Africa and he has to literally get buck-naked before the noble savage in him emerges.
    But the most laughable case of this myth is Neil Young’s son ‘Cortez The Killer’. While there’s no doubt that Cortez is the bastard Young portrays him in the song, what isn’t true is his description of Montezuma as this wise, mystical, enlightened ruler. Every historical source describes the Aztecs as just as brutal as the Spaniards were and Montezuma himself as a particularly nasty piece of work. Had they invented ships and guns first, they would have come to Europe and been cutting people’s hearts out in a temple in the middle of Paris.

    • Young CC Prof

      Ever read “the better angels of our nature”? The author basically argues, with good evidence, that a person living in the 21st century has a lower probability of dying by violence than any human being who ever lived.

      Heck, violent deaths are so rare in the USA, most wind up on the news.

      • AllieFoyle

        I wonder what Steven Pinker would make of her ideas.

        • Esther

          I don’t know what he thinks of her, but she really hates his guts. (I think there’s an old blogpost of hers excoriating him. Her logic is about as cogent there as in this post, IIRC).

          • Young CC Prof

            I’d rather live in Pinker’s world than in her’s, if I had a choice in the matter. I rather prefer the theory that human beings are inherently violent and cruel, and that the relative peace of the modern age is a great accomplishment and proof that we can be more than Nature made us, implying that we can do even better. Not so fond of the theory that we are fallen and destroyed by civilization.

      • T.

        I have read it. It is interesting, but Pinker makes glaring mistakes and when he thinks he can get away with it, play rather lose with Political Science and history. Still a good book, though quite stupid in some thing.

        Evolutionary psychology in general is pseudoscience, as it is normally seen around at least.

  • Guest

    There are definitely some odd comments and conclusions in this post (it actually popped up on one of my parenting websites a few days ago).
    There are a few things that make sense and I know I’ve read from other parenting books/advice.

    “4. Babies thrive on affectionate love. When babies receive food and diaper changes and little else, they die.”

    Wasn’t there some crazy guy in an orphanage in Eastern Europe that basically did this and the babies didn’t do well (not sure if they died) and grew up to be very maladjusted? Does seem like common sense to give your baby affectionate love.

    She also makes a comment on “crying it out” and certain types “sleep training”. These things I know are now not preferred or recommended by parenting experts. Obviously letting a baby cry for a bit doesn’t hurt them, but I know with our daughter, it worked out much better for us to deal with what was bothering her right away, whether in bed or out. Otherwise she would wind herself up so much she’d get the hiccups and it would take forever to settle her down.

    My fear with the information she’s putting out there is of it leading to “helicopter parenting”, which seems to do serious harm to kids as they get older. Kids do need to be able to find their boundaries and make mistakes otherwise how can they learn from them and learn to bounce back from mistakes they make as adults?

    On the flip side, we definitely don’t want anymore parents following advice from this book: “To Train Up a Child” by Michael and Debi Pearl.
    “The Pearls advocate hurting children until parents get total compliance, starting in infancy, in order to “train” them. In his book, Michael Pearl says that if you wait until children misbehave to punish them then it’s discipline, but for total obedience you need to start training them with pain to obey you ahead of time.
    They recommend the use of tools instead of hands for both training and discipline, including willowy branches for babies and paddles, rulers and thicker tree branches for older children. Their most recommended tool, however, is flexible plumbing supply line, which they point out is cheaply available and can even be worn around the parent’s neck as a constant reminder to behave.”

    The fact that 2 children died a terrible death at the hands of their parents because of this book hurts my heart.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Wasn’t there some crazy guy in an orphanage in Eastern Europe that basically did this and the babies didn’t do well (not sure if they died) and grew up to be very maladjusted? Does seem like common sense to give your baby affectionate love.

      Yeah, but outside of crazy guys in an orphanage, who does this? No one, so it’s a total strawman.

      No, her complaint is that we are failing if we don’t have the baby held skin-to-skin full time. In reality, there is an in-between. You CAN not neglect your baby without babywearing.

      • Guest

        Actually she manages to contradict herself with that point by saying that we need constant physical contact with baby and babies need play with playmates of all ages.
        Sometimes as a parent, as much as I love my girl, she’s my whole world, I need a break! Working in a management position (ie babysitter of grown adults), sometimes I just need a minute where NO ONE needs me, my kid, my staff, my man. Just me and the TV, staring at the wall or a glass of good rum.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          Yeah, but that’s a long, long way from “When babies receive food and diaper changes and little else…”

          • Guest

            And that’s why I think I’m a pretty alright mom ;)

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            No argument, but I’d expand that to say, that’s why I think pretty much everyone is “a pretty alright mom.”

            Back to the point: the whole “babies who only receive food and diaper changes will die” is a massive strawman, since outside of rare, extreme cases, they don’t exist.

      • antigone23

        Yes, it drives me CRAZY when these studies based on orphanages where babies were literally left in a crib ALL DAY and ALL NIGHT with little to no human contact, being compared to a few days of controlled crying or even sleeping in a crib at night, within a loving home. Give me a break. There is no evidence that these things are harmful to human development.

    • GuestB

      Crying it out and sleep training are no longer recommended by parenting experts? Really?

      • Guest

        A lot of information I’ve read doesn’t support crying it out anymore, but some do. I’m sorry I can’t site specific people, but it’s popped up on my parenting news feeds quite often in the last few years. Certain types of sleep training, like crying it out as well has popped up.
        But again, you have to do what works for you and your family. It caused me physical pain to listen to my daughter cry super hard, so we gave up on it. For the time we tried it, it didn’t seem work for her anyway. But it works for some. Maybe we just weren’t able to keep up with it long enough.

        • Elizabeth A

          Weissbluth is still in print.

          CIO was recommended to me when I was on the verge of driving off the road because my 9 month old was suddenly sleeping only in 40 minute stretches. In my case, CIO accomplished the desired effect of keeping my family safe. Tangentially, the second night, the baby cried for only ten minutes, and subsequent to that, she generally just went to sleep. I am sure that if it worked that way for everyone, it would not be a controversial recommendation.

          • Amy M

            That’s pretty much how it worked for us…took four nights, with less crying each night. We didn’t let them cry for more than 10min before going in to soothe either, they just needed less soothing each night until after 4 nights, there was no crying. We didn’t do it until they were 6mos old and it was largely to wean them off dependence on a bottle to fall asleep, and also to wean off of pacifiers. (which worked at the time until the sucker I am married to reintroduced them some months later when they were sick. We didn’t get rid of the pacifiers again for a long time after that.)

          • me

            “I am sure that if it worked that way for everyone, it would not be a controversial recommendation.”

            Precisely. My oldest cried 3 hours the first night, before *I* gave up (not her). 4 hours the second night (again, I couldn’t take it anymore). And 3 hours the third night… when she fell asleep. For 20 minutes. Then I gave up, lol. And she was promptly brought in my bed and stayed there from 6 months to 15 months, at which time she was much more accepting of sleeping alone.

            With the second and third child, I didn’t even bother with the CIO crapola until they were 15-18 months. By then, they were able to accept it, and it only took a few nights to get them to fall asleep on their own, and a few weeks for them to stay asleep all night. Now all three (age 6, 4, and 18 mos) are wonderful sleepers!

            Three little girls that would make great Marines – if captured by the enemy, the enemy would crack before those girls would ;) I guess it’s payback – the mothers’ curse, remember? “I hope you have one just like you!” Well, I got three, each one as stubborn as the last :)

          • KarenJJ

            That’s how it went with my eldest too. looking back, her sleeping was fine (one 5 minute wake up for a bottle at around 3am and asleep between 7:30pm and 7am). Her inability to self-settle at that age was due to some strong separation anxiety. So CIO was a bad idea.

            We didn’t even bother with baby number 2, until he was 11months old and started waking every few hours and staying awake for over an hour and needing to be bounced to sleep (he was a big, hefty lad and I have arthritis).

            The sleep deprivation was very difficult on the entire family. My husband was woken because I needed my husband to help me bounce him to sleep. I was so tired during the day I could barely cope with my eldest child, my eldest child would also get woken by her brother waking up and making noise.

            So we went back to the dreaded CIO and it worked quickly and was very effective in changing his behaviour. He went to self-settling, instead of needing bouncing, and he woke up less frequently and went back to sleep quickly after a bottle instead about being awake for a few hours. Our household was much happier, had more energy to do fun things during the day and everyone was getting much more sleep.

            So I have seen the ‘bad’ side for CIO and the ‘good’ side. On kids that are anxious I don’t think it works so well, but for kids that are developing bad habits, then it can work very effectively. t any rate neither of them seem to have suffered long term after a few days of trying CIO.

          • me

            That makes a lot of sense. My oldest has selective mutism (an anxiety disorder) and presented an anxious temperament from infancy, so CIO was especially ineffective with her (and no, I absolutely do not believe the few days’ worth of attempts caused her anxiety, the anxiety was likely the reason the CIO didn’t work). I’d go in every 15 minutes, sooth her, then the moment I left the room: “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!” in that piercing ‘someone’s stabbing me with a hatpin’ tone. I’m glad I gave up on the notion of making her solo sleep, until she was really ready for it.

            I guess I could have gone down the path of believing that all kids are the same, and parents that claim CIO works must be cold and heartless. Fortunately I was smart enough to realize that everyone is different (even babies) and yes, some children will respond to CIO very well at a pretty early age, others, not so much, at least not until they are older…

          • siri dennis

            It’s a good idea to have proper support when doing sleep training, as well as a plan for how you’ll cope. I never advise CIO unless and until my client (and spouse, plus ideally other family members) is ready; otherwise it’s a waste of time and needlessly traumatic. Often clients will bring up the subject on a regular basis, and the trick is to recognise when a family is truly ready. Afterwards, everyone asks, Why didn’t we do this sooner?! And the answer is, it wouldn’t have worked if you weren’t ready…

          • me

            :) We (my husband and I) were “ready”. Our child wasn’t. You can tell me that I wasn’t “ready” if it makes you feel better, but that’s like you telling me there’s no snow on the ground in NE Ohio, when I can look out my window and clearly see that there is, in fact, snow on the ground.

            The attempt was a waste of time, certainly. Not exactly “traumatic”, though we were surprised that it didn’t work, as most people we knew had used that method with success. We weren’t sure if they were lying/misremembering or if they just had easier babies than we did, I’m pretty sure it was the latter.

            One size fits all parenting is BS in either direction. But thanks for playing!

          • fiftyfifty1

            “One size fits all parenting is BS in either direction. ”

            So true. This is why I love the book Outwitting Toddlers. It lays out a variety of different methods for ways to parent on various issues (feeding, sleeping, discipline, toilet training etc.) lays out the potential pros and cons and gives helpful hints. No blaming, no shaming.

          • me

            Yeah, I find siri dennis’ notion of some sort of mystical parental “readiness” that the baby somehow senses wrt sleep training akin to the notion of “trusting birth” and positive thinking impacting the outcome of childbirth. Not to mention it is extremely presumptuous for him (her?) to assume my spouse and/or I were “unready” when he doesn’t know us and certainly wasn’t there when we made our attempt.

            But, hey, all births result in uncomplicated vaginal delivers, and breastfeeding always works out, if only the mother is really “ready”, right?

          • siri

            I haven’t assumed anything about you; please don’t put words in my mouth. I was talking about specific situations in real life, not about you. And there is nothing mystical about being ready to implement a very labour-intensive, exhausting, challenging sleep training strategy; again, your word not mine. And why start bringing vaginal birth into it? Where have I said that all births result in uncomplicated vaginal deliveries or that breastfeeding always works?

            And of course babies don’t magically sense when their parents are ready; however, every parent knows that if you’re in two minds about something, or if you and your spouse disagree over something to do with the children, you’re less likely to succeed. What I meant was simply that for sleep training to work, the following factors need to be present: Baby needs to be old/developed enough to be capable of being sleep trained (ie you can’t sleep train a 2-month-old), parent(s) need to be ready (ie be fully motivated to see it through, and be satisfied that they aren’t being cruel to their child), and ideally, some kind of support should be available, whether a trusted professional to vent to or grandparents to take over for a while so parents can catch up on sleep.

            I don’t know what’s so mystical/magical about that, nor why you’re so convinced I have any interest in your specific situation.

          • me

            “And there is nothing mystical about being ready to implement a very labour-intensive, exhausting, challenging sleep training strategy; again, your word not mine.”

            How are those my words? When I waited until my children were actually ready, CIO proved an incredibly easy strategy. A week or so of fussing for 10-20 minutes to get them to fall asleep, and another few weeks of MOTN waking (going in to check on them and comfort them, them right back to bed) once or twice a night that might result in a few more minutes of fussing (fussing – not out and out screaming) until they learned to stay asleep all night (unless they actually needed something).

            If the sleep training is so “labor intensive, exhausting, and challenging,” that the parents need a third party involved and have to play catch up on their own sleep, maybe the kid ain’t ready for it yet, no matter how “ready” the parents are? Just a thought.

            “And why start bringing vaginal birth into it?”

            Because that kind of thinking is prevalent in NCB – if you are truly “ready”, if you “trust birth”, if you are a “true woman”, if you think a certain way and do certain things that have nothing to do with anything at all, really, you are guaranteed a positive outcome. Anyone who experiences complications must not have been in the “right” frame of mind. That’s the thinking there, whether they are aware of it or not.

            Now, there is a difference between being “ready” to do something, vs not really wanting to do it all. Sure, as I said above, if one and/or both of the parents don’t agree with CIO as a sleep training method, no, it won’t work, even if the kid is ready, but that is a philosophical issue, not an issue of “readiness”. If you are truly opposed to CIO, you won’t ever be “ready”, will you? The issue I took (and maybe we’re just misunderstanding each other here) with your assertion that parents must be “ready” in order for CIO to work is simply that it implies that even if both parents have no philosophical objections to CIO as a method, and they have expressed that they WANT to try it, assuming the baby is developmentally ready (in my mind at least 6 months, we didn’t try it before that because I do have an objection to CIO with very young infants) if it doesn’t work out, it is the parent’s fault for being “unready” or some such. And that’s just plain woo.

            As for why I think you are interested in my specific situation? Well, you did respond to my post. Nothing to wonder about there….

          • fiftyfifty1

            I ran into something similar with one of my kids surrounding eating. There is this philosophy of feeding called the Ellyn Satter feeding competence model that I think is a very useful technique for many (most?) kids. The problem is that in certain circles it is seen as gospel. If your kid does poorly on it, it is assumed that you must be an over-controlling witch mother or conversely an un-nurturing witch mother. It did not work AT ALL with my first. He really would not eat until he was hand fed. Didn’t matter how hungry he got or how appealing the food was. So we spoon fed him baby food and liquids from a bottle until he was 2+. It got to the point where I started to doubt myself–maybe I am causing this in some weird way although that was hard to believe as I had had lots of experience feeding my much-younger siblings and kids I babysat and had never had problems with them. And I never gave any special instructions to either of his daycare providers, but they ended doing the same thing- mainly hand-feeding. And then I had my second who fed totally normally- plop various pieces of what you cooked for dinner down on the highchair tray and voila! To this day, my first (now age 10) needs prompts with eating, something that is seen as totally damaging in the Satter world-view. But he is a happy, healthy, well adjusted kid, so whatever and I’m sure he will have it all figured out by the time he is on his own.

          • Dr Kitty

            Yeah…we have a child that probably would have happily starved herself to death with BLW. At no point has she EVER shown interest in food. She’s just not bothered because she has more interesting things to do. She’ll eat anything as long as you feed it to her or stand over her with lots of encouragement…but left to her own devices she just wouldn’t eat and will sing or talk or count to 100 instead because that is more fun.

            Unless it is actually abusive or dangerous, crack on with whatever works.

          • siri

            I’m not playing; it’s my job. And of course there’s no such thing as one size fits all – every baby and family is unique. I wouldn’t dream of telling you that you weren’t ready; I don’t know anything about you! I was talking about situations where I do know someone and we are working together to achieve better nights/more sleep through various strategies. And it IS impossible to do CIO if you’re not ready; you’re bound to crack and feel even worse than before. Having the support of a spouse, grandparents and/or a trusted professional is also important, but they aren’t enough if deep down you feel you’re doing wrong by your child.

          • me

            Sorry if I misunderstood you. You post came off (at least to me) as being directed at me; implying that the reason CIO didn’t work when we initially tried it was because one (or both) of us weren’t “ready”. I do agree that if the parent(s) don’t really *want* to do it, it is unlikely to work, but there is a difference between being opposed to CIO vs not being “ready” for CIO. We weren’t opposed to it at 6 months, but my child sure was, lol.

          • Young CC Prof

            Exactly. Obviously, you can take “cry it out” to the extreme of child abuse, but in a sane form, it works for SOME families.

            One of my friends was explaining that her daughter would cry for about 30 seconds every night shortly after being put to bed. If picked up during those 30 seconds, she’d wake up again, if ignored, she’d fall right off to sleep.

            Other babies might get more and more wound up if left to cry, even if there was nothing wrong initially.

          • http://kumquatwriter.wordpress.com/ Kumquatwriter

            We did CIO when he was about 6 or 8 months. It was three days of strain – he cried for almost an hour…then about 20 minutes…then about 5. Then he slept like a pro. Still does – we go in if he has a problem but not if he’s just crabby (or yelling, “But I don’t WANT to sleep!”) and he’s a great sleeper most of.the time.

          • Mishimoo

            That’s kind of how CIO worked for our eldest at 6 months. 40 minutes of crying/soothing the first night, 5 minutes the next two nights, and straight to sleep after that. Now that she’s older and shares a room with her sister, they do play some nights but we don’t have the bedtime problems that some of our friends do.

        • Becky05

          Graduated extinction and controlled crying absolutely are still recommended by sleep experts.

        • fiftyfifty1

          CIO is still very much recommended by pediatric sleep experts. It’s not the only method that works or the only one they offer, but it’s an important tool.

    • Lynnie

      I bought “To Train Up a Child” at the advice of an acquaintance of my husband. It ended up in the trash before I finished reading it. It absolutely horrified me.

  • Zornorph

    Glowing eyes are a sign that your child is the Anti-Christ, not that they are not stressed.

    • thepragmatist

      Or that you are either suffering a psychotic break and need medication AND/OR you are on LSD.

      • Young CC Prof

        Or possibly that your child had certain types of eye surgery. That’ll make the eyes glow, from some angles.

        • The Computer Ate My Nym

          Or retinoblastoma. Then it’ll glow white on ophthalmologic exam.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            (Or do I mean congenital cataracts? Come to think of it,I think RB gives a black reflex.)

    • Jen

      Come play with me, Darcia…forever…and ever…and ever

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        (awesome, Jen. One up vote is not enough)

  • Young CC Prof

    Good to know our ancestors were “wiser, perceptive and virtuous than we humans in the USA.”

    Our hunter-gatherer ancestors believed as the natural order of things that the only “real” people in the world were their own small band of a couple dozen and a few neighboring bands that contained relatives. Anyone else was competition who needed to be driven off or killed. If they had too many babies and not enough food, they’d start killing or abandoning newborns. Sometimes a single male would kill another male to claim his wife. (The latter two are clearly documented in historic times, the first is based on the behavior of modern hunter-gatherers).

    We don’t always do better, but we want to and we try.

    • thepragmatist

      I went on an archeological dig here and we very clearly demarcated the slave quarters in the long houses we were excavating. They kept slaves in the colder part of the long house. They also raided neighbouring villages for women. Yes, enlightened. But do not try to poke at the sacred cow or you will be labelled a racist and fast. They had an intense hierarchy. If they could’ve taken over the world, as the British Empire did, they would’ve. Humans are humans. It’s just how we roll.

    • Zornorph

      Just for fun, here’s a bit of computer artwork I did a year or so ago along that theme:
      http://i548.photobucket.com/albums/ii358/Treasurer_and_Battle/BackToTheCave.jpg

    • Lisa Cybergirl

      Like Mel Brooks as the 2000 year old man said, the first national anthem was “Let ‘em all go to hell except Cave 76″

  • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

    I’ll just leave this shining example of hunter-gatherer parenting here: “Comparative anthropologists have calculated that 50% of female newborn babies were killed by their parents during the Paleolithic era…anthropologists believed that these high rates of infanticide persisted until the development of agriculture during the Neolithic Revolution.” (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infanticide).

    • thepragmatist

      My ancestors were sacrificing babies as recently as 800 years ago as part of their religion. Just sayin’. We don’t like to talk about that…

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    1)

    Have you noticed all the stressed babies? Maybe one in 30 I see has glowing eyes, which I take as a sign of thriving.

    I tend to be attracted to babies, and love to see them out in public. And when I do, I am one of those (pick your adjective, ranging from “annoying” to “creepy”) guys who tends to take an interest in talking to/playing with your kids whom I don’t know in the least. But in all my years of doing this, not only have I not “noticed all the stressed babies” who don’t have glowing eyes, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a baby who wasn’t great, unless they were sleeping or perhaps crying about something (which babies tend to do). And even the crying babies had alert eyes. So the answer, Darcia, is no. I haven’t noticed. And it’s not for lack of not paying attention.

    2)

    They are much wiser, perceptive and virtuous than we humans in the USA today.

    Oh yeah? If you had asked these supposed wise cavemen, “Which foot do you use to step on the gas and which do you use to step on the break?” would they be able to get it right more than 25% of the time (the random answer rate)? Or would they not have a clue what you are talking about?

    Wisdom depends on the context of what is needed. They might have been a lot better at knowing how to kill a mammoth without using a gun, but why do I care about that? That knowledge is as irrelevant to me as is the knowledge of driving a car was to them. If I want to kill a mammoth for food, I can let someone at the meat packing plant do it for me. THAT, my friends, is wisdom.

    • Guest

      Oh I love the creepy guys that wave at my babies and play with them. You guys are responsible for more peacefully ordered lattes, quick, overdue conversations with older children, and finished cell phone chats than I can count. THANK YOU! — And I don’t know what this glowing eye crap is. My kid’s hair shines from two weeks of bath refusal. Is that similar?

    • thepragmatist

      You just aren’t doing enough Nitrous Oxide, Bofa.

      You are better than the creepy guys who wanted to tell me about the evils of formula! Keep up the good work! Oh, and the creepy guys who want my phone number even when my toddler is angrily kicking me and refusing to leave the coffee shop because “MO’ COOKIE MAMA”. I know this is my fault for feeding him formula. He would be peacefully baking the cookies himself out of quinoa if only I had listened. Now, I wonder… are they the same guys?

      • Zornorph

        I just can’t imagine going up to total strangers and making comments about formula or anything else along those lines. My personal obsession is moles – my mum died from skin cancer when a mole turned into melanoma so I have this urge when I see people with a mole to tell them to get it removed, but I never actually do it! That would be all sorts of creepy/rude.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          I just worry in this day and age that someone will think I’m some sort of a perv because I make googly faces with random little kids at the restaurant.

          I don’t ask to hold them or anything – that’s going a little too far. I might give them a high five on the way out, though.

          • Zornorph

            I’ve been pretty careful about how I interact with small children because of the whole ‘men are pedophiles’ factor these days; especially since I’ve been single. But now that I have a baby of my own, I feel safer in doing it because the child’s parent will see me with my own LO and simply think ‘father’ and not ‘pervert’. A shame that things are like this right now, but they are and I don’t enjoy getting suspicious looks.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            For sure, there is more leeway when my kids are around. But when they aren’t, I agree, we have to be careful.

            Just yesterday at the tire place, there was a 4 yo girl there with her mom. The way I initiated the interaction was to turn the TV onto Sprout TV (which is pre=school programming). I didn’t say a word, but by doing that (knowing the channel # off the top of my head, in fact), her mom knew that I must have kids of my own. No grown-up w/o kids is going to be watching Sprout. That was a great icebreaker, though.

          • Zornorph

            Yes, that would do it. I’m even more careful about interacting with girls than boys, though. Apart from the fact that they have, you know, cooties, I found that women would get their dandruff up much quicker if you tried talking to little girls than boys. I don’t think I’d ever try engaging with a little girl unless I had my son there.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            That’s “dander” btw, not “dandruff”

          • http://kumquatwriter.wordpress.com/ Kumquatwriter

            I loathe that trend. We have a very dear friend of the family who is an “honorary” uncle. He adores kids and is “godparent” to several (none of his own). I have to defend this loving, kid -loving man whenever I talk about leaving my son alone with him.

          • Mishimoo

            Exactly! I have no problems with leaving my kids with one of my best friends. He’s one of 8 kids and will be an awesome parent one day.

          • Dr Kitty

            That is one of the things FtM trans people remark on.
            Before transition they can coo and cluck over babies, if the perception is that they are female.
            After transition, not so much.

            Personally, as a very small, glasses wearing woman, I am very glad that I can pull faces and wave and smile at kids without judgement. Who doesn’t enjoy getting smiled at by babies?

          • siri dennis

            I love people who pay attention to babies and children; I’m a bit like that myself. But I would limit my use of the words ‘attracted to babies’ to a forum such as this one! ;-b

        • thepragmatist

          If I had all my moles removed, I would not have much skin left, given that I’m very fair and have about 14 million freckles and moles. My son is convinced that EACH ONE OF THEM is an “owie” no matter what I tell him. God help him when/if he starts freckling LOL

          • Jocelyn

            Haha, my daughter thinks my moles are owies too! And I’m like you, I have a ton. It’s from my dad’s side of the family. I probably can’t have all of them removed, but I’m sure I’ll have to get the bigger ones removed eventually.

      • Guest

        I totally nursed wrong then. My kid had no formula and still can’t bake at the age of 3. Damn it! Better luck next time I guess.

    • Sullivan ThePoop

      I have heard other people say nonsense like that. Instead of glowing eyes it was, “My children are so healthy since they were never vaccinated. You can tell by their sparkling eyes. Vaccinated children never have healthy sparkling eyes.”

  • thepragmatist

    She needs to find a cave to paint in. I think it would soothe her as it’s evident her parents gave her brain damage due to high levels of the cortisol released when she cried that one time over not being able to have candy at the grocery store.

    Her fixation on the noble savage stereotype makes me sick. Developing countries are clamoring to reduce neonatal death and she’s blathering on about the evils of the technological advances that could save lives. Any useful advice about attachment is lost in her sanctimonious drivel. And I would probably be considered an attachment parent by many here on this blog and can’t stand her. I’m still comfort nursing a three year old and he sleeps in my bed. (He did NOT as a small infant, as that’s demonstrably dangerous.)

    Also she is continually referencing her own research and is surrounded by a little echo chamber. Doesn’t matter if she’s been disproven (like the cortisol hypothesis re: CIO).

    Psychology Today should be ashamed to be giving her a venue to promote her drivel, some of which is actually harmful. For example, infants in the bed DO result in deaths. And back in the day, many infants died from “laying over” where a tired partner or sibling suffocated the baby. Now we see these senseless deaths cropping up again, even in hospitals.

    • Squillo

      Psychology Today is the People magazine of psychology. Navarez is to psychology as Perez Hilton is to sociology.

      • Trixie

        Perez Hilton is occasionally insightful, though.

    • Houston Mom

      In the bible the women fighting about cutting a baby in half before King Solomon are doing so because one of their babies was suffocated in bed during the night. 1 Kings 3 16-28
      Also that is a really really funny picture.

    • siri dennis

      In Victorian times, many babies who died ‘accidentally’ from ‘overlaying’ were more likely suffocated by their unmarried mothers for whom an illegitimate baby would mean shame and ruin. Even married parents killed their children; there was an epidemic of baby and child deaths due to poverty and despair. Throughout the 20th century, too, babies supposedly accidentally dead from cosleeping have been found to have been smothered.

      • thepragmatist

        Where’s your source for this? Victorian times saw the idolization of the infant/child amongst the burgeoning middle classes and the rise of woman as household manager without social power outside the home, in many cases not even to leave to shop. At that time, illegitimate children were dumped in orphanages. Prior to that, in the middle ages, children were not exalted in the same way and often had the same names, as so many died, so that there would be, say three children of the same name before one lived. There were periods of mass infanticide, particularly during the Enlightenment, when the poor could not leave children with Churches (because the system was overburdened). But through out most of recent European history Church orphanages and work houses is where unwanted babies ended up. Over laying of wanted infants are noted in Church records and diaries (later) of women who could write.

        I’m not saying that there weren’t women who killed their children, but I’ve done pretty extensive reading in my major related to mothering through the ages. The Victorian era was certainly not the peak of this phenomenon. Women were able to have less children and indeed, even childbirth was starting to become safer, with the invention of various technologies to aid in delivering babies! More importantly, the infant/child and childhood itself became idolized and protected, although we see that on and off right back to Greek times, 2000 years ago.

        One thing that caused a lot of an infant death was the practice of wet nursing. Many of those infants died.