As we all know, there are many challenges in parenting, but very few grasps the main root cause of parenting struggles. Family culture, personal beliefs, core values to transmit, education method to follow and healthy habits are some of the key factors considered by parents in order to succeed in parenting.
But one challenge that is often disregarded but concerns every modern Parent is the lack of community: “It takes a village to raise a child”, but there are no more villages! And we tend to forget that we are social creatures who thrive on communication and social contact which is absolutely essential to our brain development and our understanding of the world.
Let’s compare our biological needs to modern life:
What does the biological set-up look like in a tribe? Everybody lives together, no one leaves the tribe; individuals know one another well, share the same values and culture, share the joys, burdens, and sorrows of everyday life, nurture one another in times of need; adults and children of all ages spend all their time together in nature hunting and gathering; they all sleep together, children are fed natural food on demand; there is constant co-regulation in this big group of individuals with adults minding the wellbeing of each other’s ever-roaming children and increasingly-dependent elderly, and feeling fed by their clearly essential contribution to the group that securely holds them.
Compare this now to modern life:
We live in separate homes, in large cities in a globalised world, surrounded by millions of people with different values, but not always knowing our next door neighbour; only few of us have family members living nearby. We are expected to sleep in different rooms, in different beds, at an early age; one or often both parents work for most of the day, even sometimes not present for days; we spend less and less time outside in connection with nature; we no longer live in unison with natural light because of electric and blue light from screens disrupting tremendously our melatonin production; we live in a world of abundance with unhealthy food, disturbances, and non-stop stressors to our system.
Our tribe has now been dramatically reduced to two parents (and sometimes only one), a helper maybe, and grand-parents in some cases. The community we are wired for has shrunk so much that nowadays the role of the Parents is to fill in for the whole tribe and its functions to give children what they need to grow healthy in their body and mind, while Parents face new issues brought by modern life. This is where, Parents – and as a consequence Children – struggle the most.
Now, I’m not saying we should go back to tribal life and I’m not idealising it, but I think we should keep in mind our biological needs and understand that the gap between the lifestyle our brain is originally wired for and modern life creates all our parenting challenges.
What can we do then? As few examples, we can start with:
Play more outside with natural elements such as water, sand, leaves, wooden sticks, animals…
Use everyday objects with different sensory feeling such as metal and wooden kitchen utensils for instance
Learn to connect with your child through play times
Nurture friendships your child might have by learning conflict management
Avoid as much as possible screen time for little ones, especially at night
Understand your child’s sleep pattern to provide what she actually needs
Avoid processed food with colourings and flavourings that disrupt natural functions and development of the body and brain
Generally having a more Conscious Parenting mindset will help Parents and Children thrive in our modern life remembering where we all come from.
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