Mothers, chil-care, biology

Nurev at Nurev at
Sun Jun 28 04:59:02 PDT 1998

Ingrid Multhopp wrote:
> > (Joshua2) In the early days of the purely communistic Israeli Kibbutzim, a high
> > value
> > was placed upon gender equality. Men and women were active in the communal
> > child rearing. After a generation or two this was no longer the case. I use
> > this as an example for two reasons: 1) I experienced it, and can vouch for the
> > authenticity of the statement. 2)It came about entirely by free choice. That
> > is to say, there were no external causes to force the change.
> (Ingrid) Joshua, please excuse me I'm grossly misinformed about child-rearing
> programs
> in early communistic Israeli Kibbutzim, but I was told that the early child-rearing
> experiments were considered a failure because parents of either sex were
> intentionally removed from the child-rearing of their own children, who were raised
> communally by other adults--a kind of forced collectivization of child care.

This is true. But " forced collectivization " is too strong a phrase. People had choices of child rearing styles on different Kibbutzim. However, there were mothers who always had problems with their diminished role.

> The
> consequence, I was told, was that the children who grew up under this experiment
> often had certain emotional problems owing to their lack of parental bonding

This is simply untrue. There was no lack of parental bonding. As a matter of fact, family time was considered sacrosanct, and children were the focus of that time.

> sense of individuality was stunted, often causing their creativity and general zest
> for life to be muted.

Not at all. As a matter of fact they were so well adjusted, that they were prized as workers, co-workers, and Officer material for the military. Of course there are exceptions.

I would love to know more about the subject, but if I'm not
> totally misinformed then the example you cite would seem to have nothing to do with
> whether child care is the natural domain of the mother, the father, or some
> combination of the two.

My point was that the Metaplot ( child rearers, and teachers ) eventually became a female work force. It didn't start out that way.

In fact, it would make perfect sense that such a failure
> would produce a conservative impulse to return child care to the traditional
> maternal responsibility.

And this is what eventually happened. It was a slow process and today no one does it anymore.

I really do
> believe that if some of the economic and cultural onus were removed from paternal
> child-rearing, this whole notion of a "maternal instinct"--as opposed to a simple
> "parental instinct"--would disappear.

I doubt it, but why do you se that as being 'good'?

> For instance, in countries such as Sweden that make it easier for parents of either
> sex to enjoy generous parental work leave, there is much more active participation
> in child-rearing by fathers. Which is why I think you give this whole notion of
> cross-cultural variation a rather short shrift:

I don't give it short shrift. I am an example of cross-cultural vaiation in how I raised my children.

> (Ingrid) No, but I do think that this whole pseudo-scientific, quasi-Darwinian
> notion that all men want to do is pass their seed and let the women mop up is
> contradicted by just about everything I see in my own life

I'd venture to guess that you have never been a hetero teenage boy.

--from the fathers who
> regularly visit the welfare hotel down the street from me to be with their children,
> to male friends who take great satisfaction in assuming some parental
> responsibilities for the children of their girlfriends. Sure, lots of men don't
> have much parental instinct; the same can be said for lots of women. I just don't
> see what biology has to do with it.
> Regards,
> Ingrid

I happen to be married to a midwife. Might I suggest a chat with a midwife about maternal instincts and their role in infant survial. What men do later on is merely a variation on the theme.


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