Bringing up the Children

margaret mead                                                                                                                                                            .

Ancient Work Schedule

Two to six hour day; two to four day workweek

Toward the close of her long and adventurous life, first-generation ethnologist Margaret Mead (who by then was as qualified as anyone on the planet to make the evaluation) calculated that in temperate-zone civilizations ~ either of hunter/gatherers or of a simpler and more Earth-friendly (and, as we will see, human-friendly as well) agrarian arrangement than our own ~ citizens enjoyed an average workweek of two to four days, with each workday involving two to six hours of labor.
None of the work had to be undertaken in dreary, ugly, or unhealthy surroundings, nor under unfair, under-rewarded or oppressive conditions.  The vast majority of the time, everyone ate well, benefited from the disease-defeating influences of sunshine (it’s been proven that the Vitamin D created in a human body by ten minutes’ daily exposure to sunshine would eliminate 75% of the cancerous tumors ghoulishly flourishing in our own  sun-starved population), and exercised to the point of bounding good health.  No one toiled themselves into aching fatigue in a daily eternity of one single screamingly boring activity.

kenyan mask painted clay                                                                                                                                                                .

Everyone participated in the arts…

… and learned about what naturally interested them from those they naturally admired.

No one was pressured into a lifetime spent at an occupation uncongenial to their nature on the strength of someone else’s expectations.

However, since all occupations were equally respected for their value to the whole, a youthful villager generally had little problem pitching in where he or she would accomplish maximum benefit for all.

The childhood years of our Kenyan authors mirrored the tranquil sense of appropriate order which ~ as we shall presently continue to see ~ was radiated by practically every adult they knew.  Without our rampant examples of frustrated disharmony to imitate, actings out such as tantrums, bullying and fistfights surrounded by rings of cheering coevals were virtually unknown.

Children simply didn’t feel motivated to scream, hurl insults or objects, or break toys and possessions.

These thus stand revealed as unhealthy and, in their full historical context, rather unnatural behaviors learned from other children and from hurried, harried, hate-carrying role models ~ even  though we’ve come to consider them (starting to sound familiar?) “normal” to the point of inevitability.

Friendly competition

When the time came in each generation for young people to establish between themselves which individuals possessed the qualities of strength, knowledge and character which constitute capacities for various future roles of community leadership, friendly contention in the form of foot races, throwing contests, elder-administered question-and-answer sessions and (my personal favorite) solo dance competitions accomplished these purposes without animosity being incurred in the process.
                                                                                                                                                                                Accolades went to victors ~ but no mirroring sense of scorn communicated itself to any of the others, each of whom was acknowledged to be developing satisfactorily in his or her own directions of eventual contribution.

Losers, in the sense in which we western moderns perpetually create and experience them, simply didn’t exist.

In our own generation, a study involving groups of first-world and of third-world children in a noncompetitive game resulted almost without exception in scorn and derision from the first-world youngsters: There weren’t any losers ~ what was the point?

The “less civilized” third-world children settled happily down to a new kind of fun for that       afternoon and many afternoons after.


indian Mother and Child


Primitive notions of childhood discipline

“Child, you have shamed me today.”

A young person of that society upon whose horrified ears this sentence fell became, without exception, instantly and completely contrite, focused upon both outer atonement and inner development until the familiarity of complete harmony had been thoroughly restored, and absolute trust reestablished.


native american mother and child                                                                                                                                                           .

Yeah, poor kids…

Sure wish they were being brought up in a civilized environment, don’t you?

In the traditional life of some of our own indigenous populations here in the Americas, a child was never disciplined by its parents in any form, even that of mildly stated disapproval.

In the, again, infinitely fewer instances than our own (getting a better idea of what ‘normalcy’ really consists of in human beings?) in which behavioral modification became desirable in a young person, it took the still friendlier (and at least equally effective) form of a conversational stroll in the company of an especially loved and respected aunt or uncle.

It was generally felt in these Native American cultures that every child should have maintained in its own home a true, unalloyed and enduring haven from the conflicts and confusions of the world at large.

Pearl Buck, an early twentieth century daughter of missionaries to China, reports their family retainers ~ and the whole vast, teeming culture at large ~ to have a perfect horror of western-style childhood discipline (which in her own household they would hurry to undermine the moment her parents well-meaning and unsuspecting backs were turned).

Their own progeny were indulged in every way a family was able to provide ~ to the point, indeed, of spending their toddling years in split pants to eliminate the stresses of infantile training. No demands of any kind were placed upon them; no disapproval meted out for any action whatsoever.

Yet, she records, somewhere in his or her preteen years, each one suddenly seemed to make an inner decision to cast off this mode of living, and turned as if by magic from self-centered children into polite, considerate, helpful and contributive young adults.


time for school                                                                                                                                                            .

Time for School

Don’t make me tell you again to get up!

By and large, our Kenyan authors report, the children in their home villages preferred to spend their time observing and assisting adults, whom they admired and like whom they wished to grow to be.
Helping in community activities such as beer-making was to them both privilege and pleasure. When they did go off to play it was with miniature facsimiles of the tools and household implements they saw such contented and happy use made of daily by the elders whom they emulated.

At even very exiting moments, such as when a father consented to a storytelling session for the pleasure and instruction of his children ~ along with predictably numerous others, as happy tidings of it flew around the village ~ punctuating his fables, as was traditional, with questions designed to test his audience’s comprehension, exercise their deductive faculties, instill moral sensibility and in general prepare them for the perils and pitfalls of life ~ no child ever thought of jumping up, raising its voice, or overriding, interrupting, mocking or teasing another child.

It made instinctive sense to them to raise their hands and be called upon individually ~ nobody ever had even to remind them, much less to insist that they do so.

This was school for the children, toward which they all gleefully ran just as fast as they could, every time they heard it was in session.

What, don’t your kids do that?…


et child                                                                                                                                                            .

ET Weighs In

Conversations documented by ex-military personnel with visiting extra-terrestrials from civilizations technically (and obviously as evidenced by this fact alone in other ways as well) significantly more developed than our own are reported as often as not to commence communication upon any subject whatsoever with a strong statement of their love for their children, followed by one of bald comparative disfavor of modern terrestrial levels of parental affection they have witnessed on jaunts into our inhabited territories.
                                                                                                                                                                               It’s that important to them.

Maybe it should be to us too.

                                                                                                                                                    .                                                                                                                                                     .



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