The 8 Most Powerful Parenting Lessons From Tribes Around The World
They believe that the role of family is the “planting of good seeds”.
Jimmy Nelson is a British photo journalist. For more than 28 years he documented 35 of the last indigenous tribes around the world.
What he learned was life changing.
His travels have taken him to the farthest and most unimaginable corners of the world, bringing us knowledge from cultures that most of us are unaware of; knowledge of families that wisely and intimately coexist with nature.
In a recent interview with Michelle Henning from Mamahub, he shared some of their unique ways on parenting.
To me the following teachings hold a deep & powerful wisdom. I hope that when the day comes I am wise & strong enough to put them into practice.
The 8 Most Powerful Parenting Lessons I’ve Ever Heard
Enjoy & let me know in the comments what ‘lesson’ touched you the most.
Parenting Lesson #1: The Healthiest Baby Food Is Breast Milk
Babies are breast feed until they’re 4 or 5 years old. They intuitively know that the healthiest and best food to build their immune system comes from their mama’s breasts. There is no feeding time or schedule; they eat whenever they are hungry.
Parenting Lesson #2: Babies Shouldn’t Know Loneliness
From dusk to dawn, babies are attached to another human being. Any tribe you go to, this is a common denominator. If the parents are working, their brothers, sisters or other family members; will carry them. At the night, they sleep with their parents or siblings.
Parenting Lesson #3: Babies Don’t Cry If Their Contact Needs Are Met
Babies require constant human contact. Among many tribes, babies are either being held or on the boobies. It is an intuitive wisdom amongst all tribes that babies need the warmth in order to thrive. If the parents are working other family members carry them around.
Parenting Lesson #4: Babies Are Nursed On Demand
This lesson explains why amongst tribal communities, you rarely hear a baby cry. Babies sleep – normally naked – amongst their loved ones. If babies are hungry at night, they are breastfed.
Parenting Lesson #5: Pushchairs? What?
Yep, there are no pushchairs! Babies are in slings or cradle boards to make sure there is constant human contact, warmth and security. Carrying babies on the body instead of a pushchair makes not only the parents more independent but also the baby as it gets to see the world from the perspective of a ‘grown-up’.
Parenting Lesson #6: Co-sleeping Is A Natural Thing
Families, even sometimes strangers, sleep together. Especially if it is cold. They put their hands and feet in each other’s groins and armpits to keep warm. This is a habit that helps keep the body at an optimal and healthy temperature and it is also a great safety measure as well. It eases breastfeeding, provides better sleep for parents and babies and the intense bonding results in more independent children.
Parenting Lesson #7: Parenting Is Shared With The Community
This is a big one, because it is totally neglected in today’s Western world leading to many frustrated and exhausted parents. In indigenous tribes parenting duties are shared – not only between mother and father, but also the entire community. There is a collective responsibility amongst the tribe to raise, care and nurture for a child.
Parenting Lesson #8: No-Punishment Parenting
Many indigenous tribes do not believe in punishment. Instead they believe that the child will learn on its own. They believe that the role of family is the “planting of good seeds”. They believe that acknowledging positive behavior is more powerful than punishing “bad” behavior.
They too believe that a child will learn faster by them not interfering in the natural process of life. (though they will act in the face of real danger). Traditions such as fasting, vision quests or endurance during ceremonies encourage children to become independent and self-disciplined.
It might seem hard to apply all these lessons into our fast-paced lifes, but according to Jimmy it depends on how enthusiastic and committed you are as a parent. (.. Jimmy too co-slept with his kids)
“ We walk around naked and when we’re getting dressed in the morning, nobody bats an eyelid: that all comes from growing up as a unit. I think that gives us a strength that many other families don’t have, so when the shit hits the fan – and it does – the children have a deep sense of self-security and confidence.” -Jimmy referring to his family
You can find the complete interview at MAMAHUB ♥
Warm hugs, Eda
P.s. Please don’t hold yourself back… I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. (..what is your fav picture & lesson?)
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I absolutely loved this. What a great read, and great things for parents to keep in mind. Mel at mothersheeporganics
I love seeing these valuable lessons from tribes get out. I read the book The Continuum Concept when I was studying Anthropology and knew what kind of mother I wanted to be. At the age of 22 I nervously became a mom. I practiced all of these to the best of my ability as a mostly single mother without family support for my parenting style. I had a natural drug free water birth, breastfed till she quit on her on at 3 and always on demand, carried her in a sling till she decided to venture down, no punishment, and co slept till she was 10-as long as she wanted. She is now 12 and I have the most amazing, independent, responsible, respectful daughter. I constantly get comments about how wonderful she from those she stays with. I highly recommend these great points in raising children-thanks for sharing this article with all of us. We have now decided to travel the world together while she does online school, as she has developed a love for photojournalism and wants to help share the world with others. I feel very grateful for having received the kind of guidance listed in this article. I have since been a surrogate mother twice, carrying twins both times and love sharing my experiences with them to encourage this type of parenting style.
Dear Allynne, you talk about having keep few of your Aboriginal traditions. I am completely caught up now.. would you want to share with me more about this? I would love to know much more about them and to understand how -and if- they differ from this article. I send you a big hug. Eda
Wow, you rehashed my interview with Jimmy and gave me not a single credit. How utterly shitty of you and seriously lazy work. I put good time into meeting with Jimmy and interviewing him, transcribing and writing that piece. Shame you just basically stole it. Here is my original piece https://www.mamahub.nl/mamahub/2015/1/26/parenting-lessons-from-tribes-around-the-world-a-conversation-with-acclaimed-photographer-jimmy-nelson
@Michelle: Dear Michelle, pls accept out apologies. We at MTS are very sorry to not have credited you properly. To be honest.. you had been credited but something went wrong during the process of uploading and your link got lost. We are a team so it is not just me doing this work. The link to your blog is now in the article again. It was an amazing interview and you really did an amazing work putting this together. We love your page and will keep sharing it. Love, Adina & MTS Team.
For me, it’d be #7. My family looks at the choices we’re making(attachment, co-sleeping) and how tired we are, and they blame the parenting choices. I know they want to help, but it’s really difficult emotionally to get constant little remarks about how our parenting ‘style’ is wrong and assumptions we’d be less tired/stressed if we did differently. I did do differently with my oldest. And our relationship suffers because of it. Honestly, I wasn’t any less tired or stressed with her, either.
I’m missing the village.
My neighbor girls(7!+) just noticed me breastfeeding for the first time the other day. They had never realized what was going on prior, and had no idea that’s what they were for. Their reaction was a little sad, but I hope it planted the seed as to what the body is designed to do.
Love this! Some of these ideas are being applied in the “west” among people who are going back to more natural ways of birthing, and parenting. In breastfeeding classes all that is said here about BF, is taught such as feeding on demand, co-sleeping, baby carriers, the value of BF among many other things. Therefore, science is catching up to ancient knowledge, and wisdom in this respect, and of course much has be learned from societies as the ones above. Things are happening at their own pace. I would like to put some of these into practice, to cultivate a new human, and merge the modern with the ancient, to create new family structures, and a society that is supportive of the family unit in all aspects. Its nice to note that in these societies, body image is not an obsession, but attended to in a more natural manner, less pressure for both men, and women. Great post, please share more.
Sweet Destiny I loved reading your comment. I identify completely with what you say and the desire to merge the modern with the ancient and create new family structures. I am also happy to hear that in breastfeeding classes all of these notions are applied… I haven’t been to one yet but hopefully some day 🙂 I think it is a common denominator for all traditional cultures to not attend to the body image as something that most be changed, but instead something that is perfect as it is and most be worshiped. Our bodies have so much wisdom & magic inside of them we are just starting to get a hold of it… 🙂 Receive a warm hug, Eda
No. 7 is the most relevant point that I feel we have lost in the west. Children develop trust in those around them & are able to instinctively separate the good’s from the bad’uns by being loved & nurtured by all.
Dear Brian, I totally agree. How different would it all be if parenting would be shared with the community. I also feel this is very closely linked with them not knowing loneliness at all. 🙂 Hopefully we can all learn from these wise teachings.