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Paleo Parenting: Look No Further than Yourself

By Stephanie Vuolo, B.A.
August 11, 2015
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If you read enough books on the topic of Paleo parenting, information starts to contradict itself. Many Paleo parents, myself included, find the abundance of opinions and theories overwhelming, leading to more confusion than assistance. Quantitative studies suggest present-day child rearing methods are opposed to our genetic wiring, and could be responsible for affecting a child’s development.1

For these reasons, instead of relying on the latest Paleo parenting bestseller, I chose to tap into my own primal intuition as the main driver to figure out the best way to parent my child. At times, I even imagined how would I handle this situation if I lived in a cave. For example, I wouldn’t need to let my child “cry it out” at night because I wouldn’t want to attract predators to the cave. I discovered that I innately have all the tools necessary to help her survive, I am in fact the best expert on my own child, as most likely you are on your own child too.

CREATE A STRONG BOND

The intensity of the mother-child relationship seen among the !Kung and other hunter-gatherer societies support the role of attachment in parenting.2 Attachment can be easily fostered during infancy, with long periods of skin-to-skin contact, which also encourages the mother’s body to respond with an increased production of breast milk. It also extends to keeping the child feeling safe, which translates into responding to his requests for food, dry diapers, and physical comfort which creates security and strengthens the bond between child and caregiver.3

FIND YOUR TRIBE

It truly does take a village to raise children. Fewer people choose to stay in their hometowns, compared to generations past. Therefore, the innate structure of the family network isn’t available to help with nurturing young families. Seek out a strong community of support, through parenting groups and community organizations. Even modern Listservs operate as a means to connect parents in order to share resources and offer reinforcement that you aren’t alone in your parenting journey. This can be especially reassuring if you are looking to connect with families choosing to follow the Paleo diet.

SLOW DOWN THE PACE

The next time you dine out at a family-friendly restaurant, take a look around and you’ll notice very few children (or parents for that matter) are using technology instead of being present at the table. Not only is it important to create time to connect face to face with one another,4 but also it’s ok to be bored.5 Boredom inspires creativity,6 and provides for much needed sensory deprivation in our modern, technology driven society.7

Even if you children are past infancy, it’s never to late to become a Paleo minded parent. There are numerous ways to return to a simpler, more focused relationship with your child, such as going for a walk together, working collaboratively to make a Paleo dinner, or sitting outside in front of a fire watching the stars. Each stage of development offers a new set of challenges, however you have all the tools you need to be an effective Paleo parent.

REFERENCES

[1] Konner, Melvin. "Hunter-gatherer infancy and childhood." Hunter-gatherer childhoods: Evolutionary, developmental and cultural perspectives (2005).

[2] Bowlby, John. A secure base: Clinical applications of attachment theory. Vol. 393. Taylor & Francis, 2005.

[3] Hewlett, BARRY S., and SHANE J. MacFarlan. "Fathers’ roles in hunter-gatherer and other small-scale cultures." The role of the father in child development (2010): 413-434.

[4] Mestdag, Inge, and Jessie Vandeweyer. "Where has family time gone? In search of joint family activities and the role of the family meal in 1966 and 1999." Journal of Family History 30.3 (2005): 304-323.

[5] Conrad, Peter. "It's boring: notes on the meanings of boredom in everyday life."Qualitative Sociology 20.4 (1997): 465-475.

[6] Schubert, Daniel S. "Creativity and coping with boredom." Psychiatric Annals(1978).

[7] Suedfeld, Peter. "The Benefits of Boredom: Sensory Deprivation Reconsidered: The effects of a monotonous environment are not always negative; sometimes sensory deprivation has high utility." American Scientist (1975): 60-69.

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