What Cavemen Knew About Parenting (That We Don't)

Most modern, educated moms and dads are hell-bent on raising their children to be smart, sane and successful. We fill our homes with educational toys and props, shuffle our young from bouncy-seat to play mat to swing to keep them engaged, do our best to breastfeed for as many months as we can (unless we have a really good reason not to), and embrace tough-love practices like “crying it out” to foster independence and teach critical skills like self-soothing and falling asleep. Apparently, we’re doing it all wrong.

When researchers at Notre Dame compiled the results of a study looking at why our Neolithic ancestors had more intelligent, happier, better-behaved kids than we do, they came up with a laundry list of the cavemoms’ winning ways. Among them: Breastfeeding for at least two to five years (something most people today would consider “extreme”), immediate response to baby’s cries, constant carrying and natural, drug-free deliveries.

On a positive note, having multiple adult caregivers beyond mom and dad was considered a plus (I’m hoping preschool counts here), along with exposure to multi-age playmates (I gave the first kid a sister; was that enough?).

If you’re pregnant or considering adding to your brood, this is good information to have. But honestly, I’m glad I didn’t have it back when I would have known how much potential damage I was doing to my kids -- or else I would have felt compelled to have them both strapped to me at all times.

Do the results of this study change the way you view parenting today? Chime in below!

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