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Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent Paperback – May 4, 1999
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"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.
From the Inside Flap
A thought-provoking combination of practical parenting information and scientific analysis, Our Babies, Ourselves is the first book to explore why we raise our children the way we do--and to suggest that we reconsider our culture's traditional views on parenting.
In this ground-breaking book, anthropologist Meredith Small reveals her remarkable findings in the new science of ethnopediatrics. Professor Small joins pediatricians, child-development researchers, and anthropologists across the country who are studying to what extent the way we parent our infants is based on biological needs and to what extent it is based on culture
- Publisher : Anchor; Reprint edition (May 4, 1999)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 292 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0385483627
- ISBN-13 : 978-0385483629
- Item Weight : 8.5 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.2 x 0.67 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #309,954 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I was hoping for an anthropological take on the subject and got it. OUR BABIES, OURSELVES also quotes from a number of scientific studies. If you never read scientific nonfiction, you may not enjoy this approach. If, like me, you do, then I think you will find this one a page-turner. OUR BABIES, OURSELVES kept me awake a long plane trip where I had expected to do much more sleeping! I called my husband to share bits and pieces that had me excited and thinking in a new way, and got him thinking too!
A quick glance at other reviews tells me that some people found OUR BABIES, OURSELVES overly prescriptive. I did not. I found it less prescriptive than some of the other parenting books I have taken a look at. While Small does come down favoring parenting that lines up more with the rest of the world (co-sleeping, more touch, responding rather than letting children "cry it out"), I found the sketches of parenting practices in a variety of cultures empowering. They were not all identical. The take away message, at least for me, is to listen more to the child and less to western prescriptions for "getting parenting right."
I highly recommend OUR BABIES, OURSELVES. It is a fun read, and a book that will make you think!
you read it more efficiently.
- Like most non-fiction the first third of the book lays the ground
work but can be boring (kind of like the first two years of undergrad
classes). You can skim the first two chapters if you want.
- Chapter three is where things start to get good.
- I especially like the sections of the book on crying, sleeping, and
eating. The author can get a bit preachy at times but she provides
good evidence and always cites her sources.
- The section on temperament was the only really boring part and can
be skipped in my opinion.
- The last quarter of the book is notes, so it's not as long as it seems.
Overall the book was extremely interesting and mostly validated how I
want to raise our kid, and more importantly it gave me good ammo for
arguing with people (mainly my family!) about why I'm "right" ;)
I brought up my own child following the advice in this book.
My kid is 16 now and has turned out to be a wonderful, happy, smart and balanced person.
Top reviews from other countries
It begins with evolution of our speicies and topics covered include sleeping, crying, working etc in these varied cultures. It is quite an indepth read but well researched and written in an easy to understand way.
It certainly made me question whether we really have the better society, and has given me confidence to parent in the way I feel comfortable with, even if it doesn't fit the current 'norm' for our western culture.
The book would have been even more interesting had there been more cultures covered. There were something like 5 or 6 different ones cited, and it did get a little repetitive at times.
On the whole though, I would recommend this book.