The tribe: normal for human development

I was reading this article today and came across this phenomenal quote:

… [I]t never used to be that children grew up in a stressed nuclear family. That wasn’t the normal basis for child development. The normal basis for child development has always been the clan, the tribe, the community, the neighborhood, the extended family. Essentially, post-industrial capitalism has completely destroyed those conditions. People no longer live in communities which are still connected to one another. People don’t work where they live. They don’t shop where they live. The kids don’t go to school, necessarily, where they live. The parents are away most of the day. For the first time in history, children are not spending most of their time around the nurturing adults in their lives.

You can scroll down to the second interview to find the quote in context.

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It’s odd. I’ve had a hard time thinking about what to blog this last week since we came back from our vacation.

We spent a week at a cottage in Kincardine, Ontario with another family – our good friends and their two kids, who are almost the exact same age as our kids.

We spent a week playing with kids, enjoying the water and sand, talking, cooking, and eating very good food.

But to me, what was most wonderful, was the tribe-like atmosphere. Other adults to talk to – about superficial things, deep things, and everything in between. Other adults to share in the childcare, to give each of us a few much-needed breaks. To hold a baby while the other was doing something else for a moment.

To be completely honest, I felt absolutely no desire to check to see if I had new blog comments, to check out a forum I’m a part of, to check and see what was happening on Facebook. I’ll admit I did, once, think about checking my email, but that’s it.

There’s nothing wrong with social media, per se, but I can see how it’s a very poor substitution for actual human interaction. Being online leaves me feeling like I’ve wasted my time; like I’ve taken a ‘break’ but haven’t really rested; like I’d like the last 20 mins/hour/evening of my life back to do things that matter.

Being in the presence of real people who share your passions and who talk back in real time … with whom you can talk at the same time as making dinner or nursing your baby or taking a walk on the beach or setting the toddler up to colour … is just so very different than the things with which we have replaced such interactions.

And, I believe, so much healthier for not only ourselves, but most of all, our children.

Sometimes I wonder: If the people who devote so much time and energy to building online communities could put half the time into developing our physical communities … what would happen?

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