Sunday, January 22, 2012

Alloparenting - or - allo there, parenting

Steve Jobs on having kids: ‘It’s 10,000 times better than anything I’ve ever done.’

And this was the man who changed the world. Many times. Who am I to argue with him

It's been over a month since our daughter Simran Abigail Chugh was born; and it has been the most wonderful experience of my life. Some of the best moments have been just chilling with her awake, hanging out, making faces. Like here.

But sometimes I wonder, why is it so hard! I mean, think of it? Getting up every 2 hours, diaper changes, walking around with the baby, cleaning up, burping, holding the baby's head up; not to forget coming stages, like school etc. It doesn't seem to be the same way for animals; kittens mature within three to four months, and are off to the races! While we humans take around 18 years to mature (or in some cases, 80). What is it about humans that causes parenting to be so much work?

As it turns out, its the very reason that humans rule the earth - our brain! I am reading this amazing book 'Brain Rules for Baby' for the second time now, and it explains this in detail. Essentially, as the brain developed, and we started to walk upright, the head size increased, and the pelvic canal size decreased. So now there there was a trade-off between the size of the brain and the mother's ability to push the baby out.

Nature's solution? Push the baby out before she is fully developed. The result? Parenthood.

But that is not all. The brain made us all so social. Which resulted in us working as a team, and groups of females each other raise children, with males acting in a supporting role. A phenomena called alloparenting. So if it feels like raising a kid is a five person job - it is. Suddenly the Indian joint family system seems to make a lot of sense.

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