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Kids: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Raise Young Children
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Kids: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Raise Young Children

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3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  113 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
To what extent do our parenting practices help or hinder our children? As parents, how much influence do we have over what kind of people our children will grow up to be? In the follow-up to her critically acclaimed Our Babies, Ourselves, Cornell anthropologist Meredith Small now takes on these and other crucial questions about the development of preschool children aged on ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published October 8th 2002 by Anchor (first published 2001)
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Shiloh
Mar 15, 2008 Shiloh rated it really liked it
As a parent in America I sometimes feel like I'm part of some suspicious cult. I have to give up my lifestyle, adhere to a dogma that goes unquestioned among its followers and live in a compound away from the rest of society. This book raises questions about our beliefs regarding childhood. It uses comparative anthropology to show that these beliefs are recent in a social, economic and biological sense. So if you've been downright confused and displaced as a parent, this book is like a little "s ...more
sleeps9hours
Jul 31, 2008 sleeps9hours rated it it was ok
Not as good as Our babies, Ourselves.
Lisa
Oct 08, 2012 Lisa rated it really liked it
A book that explores what it means to grow up in the US vs other cultures. compares roles of children, speech, knowledge, abuse



Most of the information was what I have generally heard over the years, but she quotes many studies and includes great detail and comparisons.

the best chapter and what made this book worth the read is the last chapter "childhood's end".



"We in western culture treat our children how we'd like them to become, not how they are."

Anthropologist James McKenna

well stated and I w
...more
Megan
Jan 20, 2014 Megan rated it liked it
I read this and Small's other book, Our Babies Ourselves, in the same year, and I have the exact same problem with both of them. This problem is crystalized in this quote Small uses in the last (and worst) chapter in Kids:

"We in western culture treat our children how we'd like them to become, not how they are."

Meredith, THAT'S THE PREMISE OF YOUR DAMN BOOK. It's right there in the subhead. That's how cultures work. You can't simultaneously be an anthropologist (trained to be objective) and th
...more
Emma
Jan 13, 2009 Emma rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Hmmm... well, the thought was good, but I could not make it through this book. The premise is that we often (in "the West") think that there is only one way to raise children, and we are blind to the flexibility and differences other cultures offer. This book shows us the variety of ways children can be raised successfully to function within their culture. I find I am tired of reading that if I just was more like the whoevers my child would always do what I asked and help me clean the house. It ...more
Alison
Apr 24, 2012 Alison rated it really liked it


This book was a quick overview of a lot of sociology and ethnography, and it was a bit dry in the beginning, but I did really enjoy it for shining a light parenting in the US. We assume we are doing the best, but we are doing what we are doing for a lot of complex reasons. On the one hand, our kids do have to grow up in our culture so we should give some deference to cultural cues of how we raise our kids. But we can at least look critically at a lot of the mainstream ideas of childhood, becaus
...more
Anastasia
This book gave me a lot to think about, but it was not as strong as the book that preceded it "Our Babies, Ourselves". It seemed that this time, Dr. Small had fewer concrete comparisons, or perhaps fewer strong arguments. However, throughout the course of the book, she is persuasive at getting the reader to think about differences in child rearing based upon culture, but also based upon Westernization, class, and values.

What I took from this book is that it would probably benefit my son to have
...more
Jemma Z
Oddly, I didn't think that this book was very well written. There were many sections that were just clunky and I had to overlook the writing in order to focus on the facts. The subject matter itself was quite compelling and I had been searching for a book that said something like this for a while. When you is deep in early parenthood some many people offer advice or suggest books that essentially make you feel inadequate. It's not that this book is feel-good or anything like that, but it does of ...more
Thystle
Recently reread this. Still good. I found it less helpful for making decisions in my own parenting as Babies was (or rather less confirming) but still very helpful in perspective. Some of my favorite parts: perspectives on the institution of schooling, boys vs girls, "socialization" and the wide variety of attitudes towards this, the concept of children being economic assets (along the lines of the impact of marriage on partnerships, not slavery).
Annie
Mar 08, 2013 Annie rated it really liked it
Not nearly as much fun as her book about babies, and far too few examples from other countries. But, I learned a few useful things (like how parents approach discipline) and considered reading some of the other books that were recommended because of this one.
Kris
Apr 01, 2008 Kris marked it as to-read
I just started this - if it's as good as her other books, it ought to be amazing!
Sofia
Apr 14, 2013 Sofia rated it it was amazing
Great book! All parents and future parents should read this book.
Tara
Oct 15, 2007 Tara rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all parents
Again, brilliant insight on cultural parenting behaviour.
Maria
Mar 13, 2009 Maria rated it really liked it
Shelves: hdfs
I use this book in my child development class.
Sally
Jun 13, 2008 Sally rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
649.1 SMA
Callie
Sep 01, 2009 Callie rated it liked it
Interesting and a quick read. A bit heavy on the evolution side.
Heather
Very interesting cross-cultural parenting insights.
Glenn
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Jun 06, 2014
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Apr 01, 2009
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Nov 25, 2011
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Meredith F. Small is a science journalist, anthropologist, and professor at Cornell University. Although well known from her award winning magazine writing, she is also the author os several trade books that take a anthropological look at parenting, sexuality, and mental illness. Her book Our Babies, Ourselves as been called a "cult classic" for parents, health professionals, and anyone interested ...more
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