Parent-Child Play Relatively New, Distinctly American

From Boston Globe:

Actually, parent-child play of this sort has been virtually unheard of throughout human history, according to the anthropologist David Lancy. And three-fourths of the world’s current population would still find that mother’s behavior kind of dotty. American-style parent-child play is a distinct feature of wealthy developed countries — a recent byproduct of the pressure to get kids ready for the information-age economy, Lancy argues in a recent article in American Anthropologist, the field’s flagship journal in the United States. The Harvard anthropologist Robert LeVine, for example, observed in a 2004 paper that among the Gusii people of Kenya, “mothers rarely looked at or spoke to their infants and toddlers, even when they were holding and breast-feeding them.” (So much for the universality of peek-a-boo.) In Ifaluk Island, in the South Pacific, tribespeople believe that babies are “essentially brainless” before age 2, so there is no point in talking to them.

I’m trying to remember if mom and dad really played ‘with’ us a whole lot as kids or if they were more ‘here’s some crayons, go to it’ type of stuff. I think at the end of the day the one thing kids aren’t getting is unstructured free time to do whatever they want to do.  These days kids are scheduled to the minute and so their minds don’t have time to roam or muse or – scary, I know – think of nothing for a few hours a day.

Published by Andy

Gay Hoosier Taurus INFJ ex-playwright pianist gymbunny published author in San Francisco.

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