Survivor's Notebook

Parenting for Survival

Traditionally, children spend most of their first years with their mothers, observing the many functions in society, preparing them to understand their role in society.

Traditionally, children spend most of their first years
with their mothers, observing the many functions in society,
preparing them to understand their role in society.

In the United States, many parenting trends have been presented to society. These trends change periodically, once they have been proven to be faulty.  One such trend is over indulging the child’s desires. The idea of a “good parent” has become one who is able to act like a child themselves and come down to their level, thus creating a relationship that more closely resembles a friendship. Parenting has become more focused on fun and happiness than on the child’s well-being. As a result of this parenting style, children have become accustomed to being “entertained” by their parents rather than being educated by their parents. The world has become a place where sheltering children in a fantasy world is the norm and learning about the realities of existence and nature is hardly ever taught. With these constantly changing trends in child rearing, parents must ask themselves where they should look for a guideline on how to raise children.

When parents are focused on keeping their children happy, it can lead to overstimulation of the child’s senses. Overstimulation of children has led to a generation of people who are no longer amused by very much. It is rare in this day and age to find children who are able to see the wonder in simple things within their environments, like the leaves they find on the ground or the clouds in the sky. They are no longer amused by their surroundings and have difficulty finding things to entertain themselves. Instead, many children nowadays expect every moment to be more exciting than the last. Toys, video games, amusement parks and movies are increasingly sensational, leading to desensitization. This leaves the child with an insatiable thirst for more, and when more is not provided, many parents are met with whining, tantrums and eventually an unstable human being.

Thanks to these new trends in child rearing, many parents believe that in order to be a “good parent” it is necessary to provide as many activities for the children as possible. Parents gladly sacrifice their time to make sure that their child has the advantage of extracurricular activities, with the goal of creating a more well-rounded child. The result is a schedule filled with play dates, soccer practices, swim classes, dance, etc, further adding to the problem of overstimulation. In addition, these types of schedules can lead to a life of compartmentalization in which the child is whisked around town from group to group, focusing on one skill set and then moving on to the next.

These trends are very different from traditional forms of parenting, which, prior to modernization, have remained the same for millennia. It is important to note that fun and amusement are not frowned upon in traditional society, but they are also not the main goal for parents when raising their child. Traditionally, parenting is based on survival. It is a very simple concept, but one that has recently been forgotten. It is not about satisfying your child’s every desire, but instead teaching them how to become self-sustaining. This skill is not learned through a series of classes but instead achieved through a natural process in which the child is incorporated into everyday tasks, allowing them to have the learning opportunities that they need. Children and parents are not separated all day, as is done in most modern societies. Children are seen as a vital component, and are valued as the future leaders of society. As such, children are expected to be around adults where they can observe and be groomed to become responsible adults from very early on.

For example, in Meritah (Africa), apprenticeship practically begins from the moment a child is born. Traditionally, babies stay with their mothers throughout the day using a basic and very old technique that is now being popularized and marketed as “baby wearing.” Mothers carry their children on their backs, allowing them to be exposed to a variety of naturally occurring experiences. If the mother sells at a marketplace, the child can observe the tasks that the mother needs to take on for her business, and then slowly is expected to assist. Imagine all of the learning opportunities and skills that are provided in such an environment. The child can learn about numbers, weight, seasonal items, bartering, conflict resolution, socialization, all from the comfort of his mother’s back. The same is true for virtually every aspect of life, including farming, healing, etc. Through these experiences, children learn basic life skills from a very early age such as how to heal, how to bathe, how to build a fire, how to fetch water, how to care for children, how to barter, how to feed themselves. For example, in Meritah it is not uncommon to see a child no older than four walking with a small container of water balanced on her head, alongside her mother who is carrying a large amount of water for her family.

Since the children are given responsibilities from a very early age, they begin learning basic skills for self sustenance. The goal of the parents for their child is that of survival and continuation of their traditions and customs. It is also very common to see very young children take on the responsibility of caring for their younger siblings. Compare that to the capabilities of a child in the modern world. You can only imagine the fate of a young group of children who are left parentless after being brought up to focus on entertainment and feeling good.

This modern system is conditioning our children to become inept and dependent on sources outside themselves for their survival. Children in modern families are given a few chores throughout the week, like washing dishes and taking out the trash. They are not expected to take on full responsibility for their own livelihood until the age of 18 when they are deemed “adults” by society. But we must ask ourselves, will it be too late? Up until that late age, children are encouraged to focus their attention on what makes them feel good and what keeps them entertained. Delayed adulthood can have devastating effects on the youth, creating adults who never really know how to transition into adulthood.

When reflecting on the outcome of new parenting styles, it becomes apparent that they do not serve our youth. It is much more logical to return to the traditional forms of parenting. Only this way can we ensure the survival of our families and ultimately of our species.


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