Hunt, Gather, Parent: What Ancient Cultures Can Teach Us About the Lost Art of Raising Happy, Helpful Little Humans

Hunt, Gather, Parent: What Ancient Cultures Can Teach Us About the Lost Art of Raising Happy, Helpful Little Humans

by Michaeleen Doucleff


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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 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.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781982149673
Publisher: Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 03/02/2021
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 4,287
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Michaeleen Doucleff is a correspondent for NPR’s Science Desk. In 2015, she was part of the team that earned a George Foster Peabody award for its coverage of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Prior to joining NPR, Doucleff was an editor at the journal Cell, where she wrote about the science behind pop culture. She has a doctorate in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in viticulture and enology from the University of California, Davis. She lives with her husband, daughter, and German shepherd, Mango, in San Francisco.

Table of Contents

Prologue 1

Section 1 Weird, Wildwest

1 The WEIRDest Parents in the World 15

2 Why Do We Parent the Way We Do? 31

Section 2 Maya Method

3 The Most Helpful Kids in the World 49

4 How to Teach Kids to Do Chores, Voluntarily 55

5 How to Raise Flexible, Cooperative Kids 76

Team 1 Introduction to TEAM Parenting: A Better Way to Be Together 97

6 Master Motivators: What's Better Than Praise? 108

Section 3 Inuit Emotional Intelligence

7 Never in Anger 129

8 How to Teach Children to Control Their Anger 142

9 How to Stop Being Angry at Your Child 148

Team 2 Encourage, Never Force 159

10 Introduction to Parenting Tools 165

I Tools for Tantrums 167

II Tools for Everyday Misbehavior 180

11 Tools for Sculpting Behavior: Stories 201

12 Tools for Sculpting Behavior: Dramas 214

Section 4 Hadzabe Health

13 How Did Our Ancient Ancestors Parent? 231

14 The Most Confident Kids in the World 241

Team 3 Ancient Antidote for Anxiety and Stress 250

15 Ancient Antidote for Depression 274

Section 5 Western Parenting 2.0

Team 4 A New Paradigm for Western Parents 293

16 Sleep 299

Epilogue 307

Practical Sections

Try It 1 Train Helpfulness 63

Try It 2 Train Cooperation 89

Try It 3 Learn to Motivate Children 116

Try It 4 Learn to Have Less Anger Toward Children 161

Try It 5 Discipline without Words 195

Try It 6 Discipline with Stories 207

Try It 7 Discipline Through Dramas 222

Try It 8 Boost Confidence and Self-Reliance 265

Try It 9 Build Emotional Support for the Family (and Give Yourself a Break) 285

Acknowledgments 311

Notes 313

Index 329

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