Today’s Science Sunday is not really about science but more of my observations.
Some of the anthropological observations he makes in the blog was true of the experiences of my grandmother’s generation and maybe even my mother’s generation if they lived in a traditional joint family.
My grandmother’s generation and the ones before that, “detachment” parenting was the norm from what I have heard from them. On the other hand, Attachment parenting , some principles of which I have subscribed to , probably due to where I live and what my peers do, is more of a recent phenomenon , according to David F. Lancy, Ph.D.
In my grandma’s time,mother’s in joint families were not encouraged to be very attached to their own children. In fact, the opposite was true, if a mother showered too much attachment to her own child, she was gossiped about by the other women in the family and generally discouraged. All kids were to be treated equally. Makes sense when you shared resources, favoritism would be a problem.
In my mother’s time, mother’s did not prepare for a baby by buying stuff for the baby. Once the baby came, the women in the family got together and sewed diapers and blankets for the new arrival. Baby showers (seemandam) was more to pray for a healthy baby and a safe delivery , not so much of buying and receiving gifts, which is what I experienced baby showers to be here . I am guessing this was carried on from the times when infant mortality rates were high and healthcare was not very advanced.
Then there is the omnipresent evil eye! I am not sure where that comes from. After baby showers and all the excitement of being pregnant in the US, I visited India in my 7 month for my sister’s wedding.What a dampener! My parents would barely acknowledge that I was pregnant, would not show excitement , would not see ultrasound pictures for fear of the evil eye! They did not want to get excited, what if something goes wrong?
Women , in my mother’s time , also had to remain inside for 40 days after delivery , before venturing out. This made sense from the point of view of infections etc.But for those days, there were pampered nicely to get their strength back. They also had other women, like grandmas and aunts pitch in to care for the baby when they were in their mother house and then at least had the mother-in-law once they were back in the husband’s home. So there was no intense bonding with your own child.Once back to their husband’s house, attachment parenting recommendations of extended breastfeeding, wearing the baby in a sling would not work since they had to do household chores and cook for the family and care of the in-laws etc. Essentially , they went back to work.
So the whole guilt of staying home versus working outside the home ,did not even matter, you just went back to work. Although inside the home of course. But the amount of time they probably spent playing/stimulating the baby , reading books to the baby etc. (As recommended by all the baby websites, research studies and everything) was probably not all that much and was probably looked on as if you were making an excuse to not pull your weight in the home.
Whereas when you live as a nuclear family, you can waffle between going to work and staying at home (most of the time you don’t have a choice either way,so then we carry guilt , guilty if working, guilty if not) , do the dishes or may be not, cook or maybe not. Choices that were not present in the joint family system.
So it has been quite a journey from detachment to attachment , all in 3 generations.
By no means am I saying my grandma or my mom did not love me, give me their time and attention,or read books to me. In fact, my mom somehow managed to read all the Amar Chitra Kathas to me when I was quite young. All I want to say is that culturally what attachment parenting expects of us in today’s times simply did not hold true two generations or even one generation ago. So my takeaway from this, relax, the kid will be fine! 🙂
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