Hunt, Gather, Parent: What Ancient Cultures Can Teach Us About the Lost Art of Raising Happy, Helpful Little Humans

Written by:
Michaeleen Doucleff
Narrated by:
Michaeleen Doucleff

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
March 2021
11 hours 11 minutes

The oldest cultures in the world have mastered the art of raising happy, well-adjusted children. What can we learn from them?

“Hunt, Gather, Parent is full of smart ideas that I immediately wanted to force on my own kids.” —Pamela Druckerman, The New York Times Book Review

When Dr. Michaeleen Doucleff becomes a mother, she examines the studies behind modern parenting guidance and finds the evidence frustratingly limited and often ineffective. Curious to learn about more effective parenting approaches, she visits a Maya village in the Yucatán Peninsula. There she encounters moms and dads who parent in a totally different way than we do—and raise extraordinarily kind, generous, and helpful children without yelling, nagging, or issuing timeouts. What else, Doucleff wonders, are Western parents missing out on?

In Hunt, Gather, Parent, Doucleff sets out with her three-year-old daughter in tow to learn and practice parenting strategies from families in three of the world’s most venerable communities: Maya families in Mexico, Inuit families above the Arctic Circle, and Hadzabe families in Tanzania. She sees that these cultures don’t have the same problems with children that Western parents do. Most strikingly, parents build a relationship with young children that is vastly different from the one many Western parents develop—it’s built on cooperation instead of control, trust instead of fear, and personalized needs instead of standardized development milestones.

Maya parents are masters at raising cooperative children. Without resorting to bribes, threats, or chore charts, Maya parents rear loyal helpers by including kids in household tasks from the time they can walk. Inuit parents have developed a remarkably effective approach for teaching children emotional intelligence. When kids cry, hit, or act out, Inuit parents respond with a calm, gentle demeanor that teaches children how to settle themselves down and think before acting. Hadzabe parents are experts on raising confident, self-driven kids with a simple tool that protects children from stress and anxiety, so common now among American kids.

Not only does Doucleff live with families and observe their methods firsthand, she also applies them with her own daughter, with striking results. She learns to discipline without yelling. She talks to psychologists, neuroscientists, anthropologists, and sociologists and explains how these strategies can impact children’s mental health and development. Filled with practical takeaways that parents can implement immediately, Hunt, Gather, Parent helps us rethink the ways we relate to our children, and reveals a universal parenting paradigm adapted for American families.
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Fascinating descriptions of non-western child rearing practices. Interesting ideas on how to interact, not only with children, but with adults too. I'm a grandmother and will encourage all of my children to read or listen to this book, even the ones who are not parents.

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Peter M.

This is a wonderful book. It completely flips the narrative on how to raise children in western society, which I think is desperately needed given the many challenges present in raising a child in the USA.

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Anni D.

Very interesting book! Food for thought for parents!

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This book feels very cherry picked. I have a lot of friends and family from non western countries and across the board they express anger/emotions with kids more not less, and even in most other books etc by poc the narrative is white people are too sterile/emotionless not the other way around. This book seems like an anthropologist went out of their way to find cultures that support and rebrand the preexisting Montessori type waspy minimalist ideal and ignored everything else. I think it’s worth a listen and got a lot out of it but I question the anthropology or at least the framing of it here

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Jayson N.

I found this book very useful to reflect on the parenting practices that I’ve just accepted without thinking about.

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Eran K.

This is the best book about parenting I've read in a while. And I read a lot of those. As a psychologist and parenting counselor, I've learned a lot!

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Martine H.

Very inspiring

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Vasilije S.

Mediocre at best.

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