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 American families.
Doucleff, a correspondent for NPR's Science Desk, debuts with a lively account of traveling with her three-year-old daughter Rosy "to the corners of the world" to research parenting techniques. Through interviews and anecdotes, Doucleff pieces together a universal parenting approach that "has been tested for millennia... across six continents" and is composed of four elements: togetherness, encouragement, autonomy, and minimal interference. In the Yucatan, Doucleff observes a familiar morning routine—getting children ready for school—unfold with no chaos, and in watching the children help one another, learns how to "transmit the value of helpfulness to a child." During a visit to Kugaaruk, a small village in the Canadian arctic, Doucleff watches the effect of anger-free parenting in raising children who act thoughtfully. And during a brief stay outside the plains of the Serengeti, she witnesses the Hadzabe peoples' "gift economy," and how parents teach their children self-sufficiency, kindness, and respect by allowing them to set their own agendas. Doucleff includes specific and manageable instructions for parents ("Start with a daily time-out from entertaining and instructing your child," for example), and end-of-chapter summaries include extra resources. Parents will find Doucleff's curiosity contagious and guidance encouraging.
An absolute must read for with or without children
Best parenting book I’ve read so far. I’ve been trying out some of the techniques described in this book on a two-year-old and the results have been amazing (both on the toddler and my own inner peace). Really a must-read!
Useful & thought provoking
Practical advice delivered in a conversational style and backed by data. I would’ve liked to see some discussion about how to get non-parents (friends, family, daycare) onboard with these methods.
Tons of effort. But atheism at its finest.
There’s some good insight in this book, but if humans came from apes and millions of years of morphing from a blob…than this is probably a 5 star rating for those who think that way.