The History of (Attachment) Parenting


Attachment Parenting, Empowering Parents / Monday, January 21st, 2019

While modernity offers us so much, it robs us from even more; take a few minutes to travel back in time. This is the history of Parenting.

Before Attachment Parenting was a term, an idea you could choose to follow, or a social movement you could disregard, but the only way of life possible, the way of life that brought us to where we are now. 

I want you to imagine living on earth, some 7,000 years ago; prior to industrialization, agriculture, architecture, art, or education. When it was cold, it could get very cold. If it was warm, it could get very warm. We could only live near a source of water, where game and vegetation amount. Water meant life and the lack thereof meant death; we were forced to move from one place to another, living in survival mode.

Living in the (Probably) Matriarchal Pre-Neolithic Era

We lived in caves and other temporary shelters, ready to leave as soon as danger sparks. We didn’t own, as nothing was ours to own, and in any case, we couldn’t carry anything larger than the contents of our pockets. Surrounded by our somewhat extended families, we had no friends, nor did we have enemies. We shared the food, and the responsibilities. We shared the sorrows and joys of family life, we raised each other’s children, we mourned and we celebrated. But there was much more to mourn, than to celebrate.

Living in this prehistoric era, child mortality was staggering; raising a child to fifteen was a success, living past forty was almost impossible. Life was short, but it probably had a meaning, otherwise humankind would go extinct.

What do you really know about the history of #parenting - and where did it all change. #patriarchy

Closeness is Survival

Surrounded by larger animals who we could kill and eat, or be eaten by, separation, just like the lack of water – meant death. Entire families slept together, side by side, keeping each other safe and warm. Attachments were formed in a tribal, cross-generational form. We knew who our parents were, but we were guided by everyone. We knew who our children were, but we guided all children. There was no social status, no one was ever better than the other. Women, children and men were considered equal, as long as every individual contribute as much as he or she can at any given moment. No one was expected to do anything he or she could not do.

No More Tantrums

Equality, Like We’ll Never Know it

Living in the hunter-gatherer epoch, those who couldn’t contribute endangered the entire tribe. But it was the tribe’s collective responsibility to assure everyone could actually contribute. While men were the main hunters, women, too, joined the hunt. Those who didn’t hunt, gathered vegetation, roots, berries and the like. Others stayed home, caring for the young, the sick, and the elderly. No job was more important than the other, as all were crucial for survival.

While everyone were equal, children were the future.

Maintaining the Feminine Strengths, Together

Reproduction, undoubtedly, had always been and always will be the one ability distinguishing women from men; but postpartum women are weaker and less able to contribute to the tribe, while newborns and toddlers are somewhat of a liability.

Not only that they demand round the clock care, but they also slow down the tribe when it’s forced to move. But in these empowering societies, it wasn’t viewed that way. In order for reproduction to remain a strength rather than a weakness, birth rates were naturally limited by extended breastfeeding; this term doesn’t suffice to describe the ancient patterns. In order to produce the Prolactin level needed to hinder ovulation, newborns and toddlers were literally attached to their mothers’ breasts.

Modern science and observations of indigenous people talk of breastfeeding every twenty minutes, but the clock wasn’t yet invented, 7,000 years ago, so what we are talking about here is constant suckling, day or night. Since leaving a newborn on his own could only mean the baby’s death, babies joined the shared sleeping areas. In addition to saving the life of babies, this strategy played a role in the protection of the entire tribe, as a crying baby alerts all potential predators on the tribe’s whereabouts. Thus mutual protection was not only the easiest way to go, but the only way to live.

As soon as toddlers naturally wean, around age three, they are immediately considered equal individuals in the tribe, given jobs and tasks they are able to carry out.  

What most of us don't know about the #history of #parenting, and about the #practices that brought us to where we are today

Equal Parts of Society, at 3 Years of Age

With every passing year these maturing toddlers’ contribution increases as they gain more knowledge and more experience. They join the gathering women, they take active part in maintaining the household and caring for the needs of the young and the elderly; they bring, they take, they wash. They are not taught, but they learn.

And if this isn’t enough, a maturing toddler is also the one liberating her mother from her constant care, thus enabling her to give the highest form of contribution: further reproduction.

Tribal life, in the period before religion, prior to the concepts of good and bad, too much or too little, kept force outside of the house, letting only the power in. When one is only as strong as his weakest partner, empowerment is the only option. An interdependent society moved by survival doesn’t belittle, separate, judge or compare. It doesn’t constantly look for problems, because it didn’t yet forget the truth – if it isn’t a threat to your survival – it isn’t a problem.

This is Where Everything Went Wrong…

If you want to know what happened, why we turned into the society we are today, governed by guilt, fear, and shame, so distant from the natural attachment patterns, Patriarchy and the Reign of Fear is where the answer lies.

And please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Viki de Lieme

Hi there! Welcome to my home 🙂 I am a mom, a parent educator, a Nonviolent Communication specialist, and attachment parenting advocate. I help children (and their parents) reconnect and find the joy of family life.

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