Meet modern moms who don't use strollers, advocate for co-sleeping, and more.
When my wife and I had our first baby, we eagerly read all the books about how to become pro-level parents in the modern world. We bought the changing table, the crib, the high chair, the rocking chair for the nursery, the bouncy chair thing, the swing, the mobile, and much more. Five babies and many lessons from the school of hard knocks later, and all that is out the window. Over time, the way we interacted with our children in their younger years has changed dramatically and as we met other parents we learned that we aren’t alone.
Many mothers and fathers are returning to older, simpler parenting styles. Often the change is gradual and happens naturally. We realized that holding our baby close in a wrap or sling reduced crying (as opposed to letting them cry it out in the crib). I finally admitted that our babies really didn’t want me to feed them from a bottle and mom starting nursing them on demand. Again, way less crying. We stopped worrying so much about feeding schedules, nap times, or if baby slept in the bed with us. Having slowly found our groove, life is now going more smoothly for our entire family. In our case, we simply had to learn to parent in a more relaxed, traditional way that suited our needs and the needs of our children.
Parenting is a wild, untamed adventure, and as much as we might like to believe that modern, scientific parenting techniques can remove all the x-factors and improve on all traditional parenting techniques, in my experience that just isn’t the case. No one wants to retreat entirely to the past, but maybe it’s time to take a second look at the wisdom of traditional parenting.
We don’t have to guess what that would look like, because there are still many places in the world where there’s tremendous community support for these natural parenting practices. Recently, British photojournalist Jimmy Nelson shared a video of his experience living with 35 tribal social groups. Over 28 years of work, he learned a surprising lesson: the maternal wisdom of past generations continues to be the best guide to raising happy children.
In the video, Nelson lists eight parenting lessons he learned from these tribal cultures, many of which have all but disappeared today in Western countries. He asks: Would you follow the lead of these tribal parents? Curious, I decided to ask this same question to parents who’ve already adopted some of the lessons Jimmy Nelson discovered.
Babies shouldn’t know loneliness.
“This is the most fundamental element in nurturing my children. Our relationship is better for it, and our children know we are dedicated to them from the beginning to the end.” – Wendy, mother of three
Babies don’t cry if their contact needs are met.
“Crying is a late stage response to a need going unmet, so it isn’t surprising that a baby whose physical and emotional needs are met (by contact and nourishment) doesn’t cry much.” – Amber, mother of five
No strollers! Babies are best wrapped and carried.
“I have no idea how to wrap, but I love the closeness and delight my kids experience when I’m wearing them. We’re both comfortable and it provides flexibility for hikes, walks, trips to Botanical Garden, or podcasting while doing the dishes when they won’t sleep.” – Chris, father of four
Co-sleeping is totally normal.
“Co-sleeping just kind of happened once we had more than one child. Waking up to feed a baby throughout the night can be exhausting, and when you have older children to tend to during the day, you don’t have time to be exhausted. With Baby in bed with me, I am able to feed my baby in the night without fully waking up. It is amazing how God has designed mothers’ bodies to be responsive to their babies, even while the mother is asleep! When my baby sleeps next to me, I notice his slightest stirrings and feedings happen without either of us fully waking up. This results in more sleep for me, which makes me happier, which makes my whole family happier.” – Carrie, mother of four
“I love (safe) co-sleeping with my babies not simply because it is convenient, but because of the health benefits for the baby, the bond it foster between us, the peacefulness it give our nights with less crying, and the fact that as a result I feel completely rested in the morning since neither baby nor I fully awaken during the night.” – Lindsay, mother of two
Parenting is a responsibility shared with the community.
“Baby is always with someone even if it’s just her 2-year-old sister. It’s amazing to see the maternal instinct in even very young girls.” – Chelsie, mother of two
Take a look at the full video below:
What about you? Do you agree with these lessons, or have a few parenting policies of your own that aren’t mentioned here? Share with us in the comments!