Hunt, Gather, Parent: What Ancient Cultures Can Teach Us About the Lost Art of Raising Happy, Helpful Humans
Michaeleen Doucleff, PhD
Avid Reader Press
Published March 2, 2021
About Hunt, Gather, Parent
When Dr. Michaeleen Doucleff becomes a mother, she examines the studies behind modern parenting guidance and finds the evidence frustratingly limited and the conclusions 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 world 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 techniques 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 American families.
I can already tell I need a hard copy of this book for notes and highlights. Also, I need to listen to the audiobook version again.
The author narrates the audiobook, and I found it easy to listen to her. Her conversational style makes it feel like having a conversation with another mom about common parenting challenges. She also tells stories from the parenting trenches. Plus, a bonus: science!
First off, I really liked the way this book was broken down into parts. First, a research section discusses our (specifically, the WEIRD, Western, United States-based) approach to psychology. It looks at the study of what’s good for children and how much it assumes or misses by ignoring the input of other cultures. Three big parts focus on Doucleff’s time with parents from each of three different cultures: Maya, Inuit, and Hadzabe parents.
There are also TONS of helpful tips and ways to put the different concepts Doucleff explores into practice. Looking for ways to get your kids to help with chores? There’s a section for that. Want your littles to be more autonomous? The author’s got you covered. There are so many ideas I want to try in this book. I feel like I’m going to reference it for a while since I can only manage to introduce one or two at a time.
On the whole, this is a super practical, well-researched book that parents of younger children will find especially helpful. Though you can apply the concepts to all ages, I think it’ll be easiest to introduce them to younger kids.
Recommended for Ages whatever age you become a parent. Ha.
The book contains wisdom and teaching from Maya, Inuit, and Hadzabe parents and leaders.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used very infrequently.
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tons of helpful parenting strategies and solutions based on Maya, Inuit, and Hadzabe traditions.