The isolation of pandemic parenting is unprecedented



It really does “take a village,” which many families cannot access during the pandemic

The isolation of pandemic parenting is unprecedented


Apparently, 
people who are not parents are getting annoyed that peers with kids are getting “special treatment,” and/or these folks without children are peeved at exhausted parents looking for sympathy during a time of unprecedented upheaval for families. Despite knowing the pandemic is a time of off-the-charts stress for parents, for myriad reasons, they’re still irritated.

Really?

According to New York Times writer Jessica Grose, yes. For some (mostly in the meaner virtual world, naturally), the adage “people are at their best in the worst times” does not actually apply. Grose writes a lot about parenting, and says she’d received complaints like the aforementioned even before Covid-19, but such grievances have actually increased of late. You’d think with enormous job losses, the threat of illness, and uncertainties galore, it’d be obvious to all that sympathy was more called for than ever, but no. 

READ MORE: Asking if someone is OK is harder, but more important, than ever

Grose reminds all that the notion of the self-sufficient “nuclear family” is a myth. As far back as our species can recall, children were raised communally, with extended family and neighbors pitching in. It is how we are wired.

Biological anthropologists refer to this as “cooperative breeding.” “That’s the idea that family and community members help with holding, grooming, and sometimes even feeding your baby,” she writes. Anthropologist Sarah B Hardy posits these “alloparents,” may have been “the secret of human evolutionary success.”

Grose cites the fact that from colonial times through the early 20th century, families either took their kids to work with them in fields and sweatshops, or charged older siblings with childcare. Even the 50s-era Father Knows Best-type family – i.e. breadwinner dad, housewife mom, 2.5 kids and a dog – was much rarer than we realize. A roaring economy did allow the creation of the anomalous so-called “nuclear family,” but even then, housewives still depended on friends, and of course most obviously, on schools.

The upshot: this is all uncharted territory for families, a time that future social scientists and anthropologists will no doubt be looked back upon and study. Hopefully, in the final analysis, they’ll see more sympathy.



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