Tribal Secrets of raising children

Eight powerful parenting lessons from tribes around the world. Have you ever wonder how tribes raised their children?  British photo journalist Jimmy Nelson documented 35 indigenous tribes around the world across 28 years of work.  Here are some lessons about parenting he learned in his journey:

  1. The healthiest baby food is breast milk. Babies are breast feed until they’re 4 of 5 years old because mothers know from a long tradition of maternal wisdom that it is the healthiest food for a baby’s immune system.
  2. Babies shouldn’t know loneliness. From dusk to dawn, babies are attached to another human being.  If parents are working other family members will carry them.  At night they sleep with their parents or siblings.
  3. Babies don’t cray if their contact needs are met. Babies are either being held or in close contact with someone.  Tribes know that babies need the warmth and comfort of touch in order to thrive in all aspects of their development.
  4. Babies are nursed on demand. Amongst tribal communities, you rarely hear a baby cry. Babies sleep, normally naked, amongst their love ones.

  1. No pushchairs needed. Carrying babies on their body gives parents more freedom to move around and the baby as well becomes more independent, and gets to see the world from the prospective of a grown up.
  2. Co-sleeping is a natural thing. Families, sometimes even strangers, sleep together, especially if it is cold.  They put their hands and feet in each other’s groins and armpits in order to keep warm.
  3. Parenting is shared with the community. In indigenous tribes, parenting duties are shared by the entire community.  There is a collective responsibility amongst the tribe to raise a child.
  4. No-punishment parenting. They believe that the role of family is the “planting of good seed.”  Acknowledging positive behavior is more powerful punishing “bad” behavior.

We can learn much from our tribal brothers and sisters.  Most importantly, that it takes a village to raise a child and contact and praise is more powerful than forced self-reliance and discipline.  And of course – Mother’s milk is superior to any Gerber product that you can feed your child.  Finally in our ultra-materialist society, it is good to realize that it is not nearly as important how much you give a child, as how much time you spend with them.

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Gregory Brown