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Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent Paperback – May 4, 1999
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"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.
From the Inside Flap
are faced with innumerable decisions to make regarding the best way to care for their baby, and, naturally, they often turn for guidance to friends and family members who have already raised children. But as scientists are discovering, much of the trusted advice that has been passed down through generations needs to be carefully reexamined.
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
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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 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!