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The death of Jean Lindoff (continuum concept) got me thinking about tribes and “primitive” living. I think that particularly in AP circles, but also in green circles too, much is often made of how the ideal would be to live tribally, with our village helping to raise our children, everyone carrying their babies, breastfeeding, letting women babymoon etc. I read, enjoyed and took on board many continuum concept ideas - especially that of trusting your child around danger, which I consciously try to do, and am already seeing a confident child who knows when to and isn’t afraid to ask for help, and for a while I wholeheartedly believed that our natural state is tribal, and we should be doing everything possible to make our lives more like tribal lives.
However, while Lindoff’s tribe sound delightful, I am aware that many tribes are not so lovely - I’m very glad my daughter does not live in a tribe which practices female circumcision, or which binds babies to boards and hangs them on pegs. I’m actually quite pleased that she lives in a society where women are able to take jobs and work outside the home if they choose (actually, I’d prefer it was more of a choice than a neccessity, but that’s another debate!).
I guess my question for debate is: do we romanticise tribal/“primitive”/“back-to-basics” living?
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Oh yes, I do think there is an issue with reading the Continuum Concept and idealising tribal life. Especially when mamas read that babies in these cultures don’t cry, and wondering why no matter what they do does their baby still scream and scream sometimes. Also, as liberal as my sense of risk is, children in tribal cultures are sometimes killed and injured by play with knives, in dangerous situations like besides a cliff, etc. I don’t think that things have been or will be perfect for human beings in this life, no matter what situation they can create for themselves.
It is something quite pervasive, the idea that if all the conditions are “right” as defined by a self-proclaimed expert, everything else will be perfect. A tempting idea, sometimes. If you eat a vegetarian diet, your pregnancy will be easy and wonderful. If you co-sleep you will always get more sleep. Well, there are probiblities perhaps - but I would still wager if I lived in the situation I think is ideal for me and my family there would still be something that was hard and frustrating. So maybe the hard and frustrating is something in me, not in whatever is leaving me with those feelings? Maybe the best way to be happy isn’t to have everything set up right and therefore have perfect children - maybe it’s to celebrate the imperfections?
I don’t think seing *simplicity as ideal* is a problem, but there are still some issues here. One, of making mamas feel like they ought to be able to make their environment perfect and that they are at fault for not being sufficiently outside their present culture if something is difficult. Two, of forgetting that we live here and now - and living always in the “some day” isn’t healthful.
Ideally, I would like to think it was possible to look back and learn, be present here and now and live in joy, and plan for a future that is more human-scale and helps us meet the needs we can’t right now…
I think that there are elements of tribal societies that are definitely beneficial, but I think many of these appear in close communites as well. In our local village if someone’s partner dies, the whole village rallies round and comes to the funeral, brings over food, cleans the house, etc. Not so sure about when babies are born cause I only know most of this through the MIL who’s on the older side! I think we British have had it drilled into is to be private and mind our own business, that it would be hard to create closer communities, but that would be a lovely idea. From the little I know about tribal living, men and women seem to have very set roles whihc I wouldn’t welcome, and I think it would cause great contention if someone’s beliefs and morals differed from the rest. i do think we could stand to be a little close though. Back when I was BF Oliver, DH’s cousin was getting upset that she couldn’t go to a friend’s wedding as no children were invited and baby Bella was still BF and woudl not take a bottle, so she couldn’t leave her with anyone. I suggested that she leave Bella with me for the night as I could BF her as well as Oliver. I was in the room with DH, MIL, Dh’s aunt (who is a nurse) and cousin and all looked at me as if I had suggested feeding the baby poo! Needless to say they did not take me up on the offer which I though was quite sad.
Mother to Harry (6) and Oliver (4) and Hannah who arrived at 5.57pm on Friday 10th May 2013
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