“…there was ambivalence in the desire for children. Your species swayed back and forth about what to do with them — between the poles of infanticide and abandonment, on one side, and acceptance, engagement, and nurture, on the other — for the longest period of your human existence.
“It follows that humans did not increase in numbers during this period, which included millions of years of proto-human, prehuman, and early human existence — during all of which time you lived as nomadic gatherers, and eventually nomadic hunter-gatherers. Children were not particularly wanted. In addition to all the ways their exorbitant needs made them a burden, they needed to be carried from camp to camp. You did things that staggered births. Breast feeding the most recent child for as long as four years, which inhibits the ability to become pregnant; refraining from sexual activity for a long time after the mother had given birth; and abortion (your ancestors had their crude ways) — all had the effect of spreading out over a long period of time the instances of pregnancy and childbirth. If the child came into the world deformed or unusually frail, you would usually remove it from its misery and then bury it.
“Having this long between births — an average of four years — meant that the children that were born, and that lived, received more attention, nurturing, and caring than is the case when children come more frequently. Having less children meant also that there was less burden in caring for the ones one had, so they were more likely to be wanted and to be attended to. Being free from the controlling-conformity pressures that came with sedentary-hierarchical societies, children were less afflicted with being scapegoated because of either father’s or mother’s societal subservience and unhappiness. Again, children benefitted from the fact that the lives of their parents were less onerous.
“So, during this period when you had less children and when primitive abortion and infanticide were used as means of birth control, you had less children, but those you had were exceedingly more cared for. They were much more wanted, “loved,” and seen than would be their human counterparts later on, after the agrarian revolution. They were, in fact, parented nearly as well as your nearest cousins in Nature — primates, apes, and mammals — despite their bringing with them so much extra helplessness and extra years of dependency. So although during this time you had less children, those you had were more cared for, more “loved,” and more seen.
“Your species survived, barely. The factor of excessive burdensomeness of children, which might have ended your line, was offset by a natural, an Authentic, desire for children. Your numbers were not large relative to other species. There was a balance in Nature, and you lived harmoniously within it.
“During this time, your species and its strange proclivities — its unusual birth, early infant deprivations, excess mentation, and distance from natural ways, compared to the rest of us planetmates — did not matter much in the grand scheme of things. You were no great harm and caused no widespread suffering to the many planetmates outside of yourselves.
“But as your species turned its back on its nomadic roots and, blinded by an unnatural fever, pursued a circumscribed and strenuous sedentary lifeway, this stasis in your numbers began to change. While your earliest forays into agrarian-sedentary ways occurred as long as twenty-five thousand years ago, they were not taken up by many of your species until around ten thousand years ago. At that time, increasingly, and especially at around four thousand years ago, there was a switch away from being nomadic to living in permanent settlements, based on an agricultural economic.
“And it is at this point that, though your motives were far from laudable and were selfish, you began to see some benefit in having offspring. You perceived survival advantages in family status and larger broods of children.
“By “family status” we mean that you became more inclined to identify yourself with a nuclear family unit. Prior to this, you saw yourself, primarily, as tribe members, and those human others who were included in your day-to-day world of social interactions included virtually all the members of that group.
“Indeed, the burden of children was shared by your group, which is another reason children were more cared for at that time. If a child felt so inclined, he or she could move over to another hut or fire ring for a while, hang out with a different group of fully growns and children (who would, effectively, represent additional “brothers and sisters”), and be welcomed and embraced there. In a very important way, children were viewed as being part of the entire tribe; their care was much more a tribe responsibility; their personalities were much more influenced by many tribe members other than the immediate caregivers; what they brought in terms of delight, adorability, fun, and love was much more shared by the entire group; and what they added in terms of additional hands and assistance benefitted, much more than later, the entire tribe, also. So here again, children received much more in the way of attention, nurturing, and need satisfaction. And there was much more happiness attendant upon the state of being a child — being free and open, not just to the awesomeness of the physical world and world of Nature, but to the love, pleasure, fun, and interactions of the social world, as well, with its fascinating array of human behavior and emotion, and the brilliance and marvel of its “magical” members….”
[Pt 4 of 24rd prasad — Family “Investment”. More coming….
To see the entire book, to which this will be added eventually (book is two-thirds updated), go to the blog page at http://mladzema.wordpress.com/the-great-reveal-book-6/ …
Planetmates: The Great Reveal is also scheduled for print and e-book publication in mid-March, 2014 ]
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