Parenting Should Be a Shared Experience
Human beings are social animals. We tend to do better in groups than we would as hermits, each in our own cave. Sure, half of us are introverts (myself included) but that doesn’t mean we want to be completely solitary. It just means we need alone time to recharge our batteries.
There are a lot of reasons humans evolved to be social. The more complex our brains got, the longer our childhood got. That means moms and dads had to spend more effort on each child, and so had fewer children. You can see that play out with other species. Animals with smaller brains reproduce often and multiple birth pregnancies (litters) are the norm. Chimps, whose brains are most like ours, have about five children over a normal lifespan.
When a species has a low birth rate (like ours), the life of each individual is worth a heck of a lot. And the world is a dangerous place, full of things that want to kill us. We live longer when other people are around to look out for us. We’re happier (even introverts like me) when we share our lives with people we love.
Take a look at your life—your quality of life. The things you know, the technology you use. If humans were solitary animals, you’d have none of it. Life is much better for humans when we tackle it together. And the more difficult a part of that life is, the better off we are when we share it with others.
I don’t know about you, but being a parent is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Even if you read all the books, follow all the blogs, go to the seminars, you still won’t be certain of every decision you make. You’ll still be exhausted at the end of each day. You’ll still run into problems that nobody else seems to have.
This is where our friends and family become invaluable to us. We don't muddle through the process of raising children on our own. Instead, we talk to our friends, we get help from our parents and siblings. When I was growing up, it was like I had two sets of parents. My parents’ best friends were like a second family to me, and I know I’m a better person because I had more than just one or two adults in my life. If it hadn’t been for my “Aunt” Ruth and “Uncle” Sheldon, I might have grown up to be too much like my own parents. Nobody wants that!
We have some friends who have two daughters, one older than ours and one younger. Whenever we’re all together, we parent together. If there’s a child with a need, any one of us might fill it, regardless of whose child it is. Many hands make light work. Parenting is less daunting when others pitch in. But more than that, I know my daughter will benefit in ways I can’t imagine from being exposed to a variety of people throughout her childhood.