"In the winter of 1995, in a dimly lit room in Atlanta, Georgia, I witnessed a birth. Not the birth of a baby, but of a new science, ethnopediatrics." Thus begins Meredith Small's new, groundbreaking book on the study of parents and infants across cultures and the way different caretaking styes affect the health, well-being, and survival of infants. Pediatricians, child development researchers, and anthropologists today have turned their research efforts to studying this new science of why we parent our children the way we do.
Each culture, and often each family, offers advice and directives on the right and wrong way to raise and care for infants, from feeding, interaction, emotional support, sleeping, and more. Yet scientists are finding that what we are taught is the right way to parent our children is based on nothing more than cultural directives-and may even run directly counter to a baby's biological needs. Should a child be encouraged to sleep alone from an early age, as parents do here in the U.S.? Is breastfeeding better than bottlefeeding, or is that just the myth of the '90s? How frequently should children be nursed-or does it matter? Do children in all cultures develop colic? How do mothers in different cultures respond to a crying baby? And how important to our infants' ultimate development is it to talk, sing, and interact with them? These are but a few of the questions Meredith Small, through the research emerging from this new science, answers-and the answers are not only surprising, but may even change the way that we think and go about raising our children.
Written for general audiences and parents alike, Our Babies, Ourselves shows what makes us bring up our kids the way we do-and what is actually best for babies.
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How we raise our children differs greatly from society to society, with many cultures responding differently to such questions as how a parent should respond to a crying child, how often a baby should be nursed, and at what age a child should learn to sleep alone. Ethnopediatrics--the study of parents, children, and child rearing across cultures--is the subject of anthropologist Meredith F. Small's thorough and fascinating book Our Babies, Ourselves.
Small asserts that our ideas about how to raise our kids are as much a result of our culture as our biology, and that, in fact, many of the values we place on child-rearing practices are based in culture rather than biology. Small writes, "Every act by parents, every goal that molds that act, has a foundation in what is appropriate for that particular culture. In this sense, no parenting style is 'right' and no style is 'wrong.' It is appropriate or inappropriate only according to the culture." Our Babies, Ourselves is a wonderful read for anyone interested in the social sciences, and will be especially meaningful to those swept up in the wild adventure of parenting. --Ericka LutzFrom the Back Cover:
"So packed with compelling information about parenting practices around the globe that the reader may have trouble putting it down."
"Nothing less than a liberation. For too long parents have agonized...that there is one 'right' way to raise an infant. With engaging wit and profound scholarship...Small opens our eyes to the variety of child-care practices in other cultures."
--James Shreeve, author of The Neanderthal Enigma
"Wise, humane and packed with information."
--Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, professor of anthropology, University of California, Davis.
"In elegant, engaging prose, Meredith Small shows the mother-child relation to be a microcosm of society."
--Frans B. M. de Waal, Ph.D.
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