Parenting for Primates
This course meets the qualifications for 7 hours of continuing education
Parenting for Primates
What parent hasn't wondered "What do I do now?" as a baby cries or a teenager glares? Making babies may come naturally, but knowing how to raise them doesn't. As primatologist-turned-psychologist Harriet J. Smith shows in this lively safari through the world of primates, parenting by primates isn't instinctive, and that's just as true for monkeys and apes as it is for humans.
In this natural history of primate parenting, Smith compares parenting by nonhuman and human primates. In a narrative rich with vivid anecdotes derived from interviews with primatologists, from her own experience breeding cottontop tamarin monkeys for over thirty years, and from her clinical psychology practice, Smith describes the thousand and one ways that primate mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings, and even babysitters care for their offspring, from infancy through young adulthood.
Smith learned the hard way that hand-raised cottontop tamarins often mature into incompetent parents. Her observation of inadequate parenting by cottontops plus her clinical work with troubled human families sparked her interest in the process of how primates become "good-enough" parents. The story of how she trained her tamarins to become adequate parents lays the foundation for discussions about the crucial role of early experience on parenting in primates, and how certain types of experiences, such as anxiety and social isolation, can trigger neglectful or abusive parenting.
Smith reveals diverse strategies for parenting by primates, but she also identifies parenting behaviors crucial to the survival and development of primate youngsters that have stood the test of time.source: Harvard University Press
Parents looking for something new and useful among the plethora of
books on childrearing could do a lot worse than this fascinating look
at the close link between human and ape families by Smith, a primatologist
and clinical psychologist. In a rigorously scientific yet highly readable
style, Smith describes normal and abnormal parenting behaviors in human
and nonhuman primates...After all the evidence is in, Smith argues
for a sensible view of human parenting that could let many parents
Emerging from a fusion of Smith's training and education in primatology
and clinical psychology, this look at parental behavior in primates
examines both the nonhuman and the human members of the group. In a
highly descriptive and nontechnical writing style, Smith compares and
contrasts the natural history of parenting in species ranging from
the tiny cotton-top tamarin to chimpanzees, bonobos, and humans. Opening
with a chapter describing how she taught inexperienced parents in her
cotton-top tamarin colony to care for their offspring, the author then
looks at various phases of parenting in separate chapters. As mothers
provide the majority of parental care in most species, she examines
primate mothers first. Fathers play varying roles in different species,
and in different human cultures, and these myriad functions fill the
next chapter. Babysitters, weaning, the lives of juveniles, and how
parents empty the nest not only view the changing duties of parenthood,
but also continue the author's compare-and-contrast approach. A final
chapter answers the question of how much parents matter. This engrossing
book will interest all human primate parents.
This fascinating book provides a new evolutionary perspective on
the multi-female and multi-male society (multi-male group) as a social
community for parenting...this book is helpful to anyone preparing
for parenting. The book shows how parenting requires certain key experiences
and a proper living environment...The vivid descriptions of primate
parenting also suggest the evolutionary backgrounds to these phenomena.
Thus this book is also useful to students and researchers in primatology.
Harriet Smith is both an expert in primate social development and
an experienced clinical psychologist working with family problems.
The science of primate development is excellent and lucidly presented,
as might be expected given her background, and she has covered almost
every topic...All these topics are handled with skill and knowledge,
well supported with references to the recent major primate literature...Smith
makes an interesting and useful case for using primate parenting to
understand some of what goes wrong in families, and she is generally
cautious in her interpretations. But the value of the book is less
in its primatology, excellent as that is, and more in getting humans,
including other clinicians, to appreciate the varied array of parenting
styles available to primates as a group.
In this unique book, a primatologist-turned-psychologist offers an
evolutionary biological perspective on parenting. Her descriptions
of nonhuman primate parenting, from baboons to chimpanzees to cottontop
tamarins, benefit from her personal experience as a primate observer,
her command of the scientific literature, and her gifts as an engaging
writer. This book clearly illustrates how watching nonhuman primate
parents can teach us something about how we human primates parent.
Parenting for Primates is a delightful combination of hard facts
and good stories about us and our close relatives. Harriet Smith shows
us superdads, devoted and abusive parents, and blended families among
nonhuman and human primates too. An important and timely book.
It is one thing to be a student of primate behavior, another to be
a clinical psychologist working with people; put the two together,
though, and the engaging result is Harriet Smith's masterful Parenting
for Primates. It has much to offer to those who raise children as well
as to those who study child development and the family.
Harriet Smith combines her expertise in primatology with her experience
as a clinical psychologist to create a vivid portrait of how primate
parenting can help us human primates be better parents. She shows that
for all primates, successful parenting is hard work, and far from 'natural.'
It requires learning, experience, and help. Infants need continuous
attention, and that means that mothers need practically continuous
help. This is a fascinating book, for anyone who cares about quality
Harriet Smith's startling collection of enlightening research and
provocative anecdotes shows us the many ways our furry cousins form
their families and raise their young. Her revelations are an indispensable
guide for anyone attempting to parent young primates--human or otherwise.
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Hardcover: 394 pages
Parenting for Primates, is a natural history of primate parenting, comparing human parenting with that of monkeys and apes. Parenting for Primates is different from other popular science books that have tackled the subject of parent-child relationships, which typically limit discussion to the parenting behavior of mothers with their infants. In contrast Parenting for Primates focuses on parenting by mothers, fathers, and extended family, and examines both how parenting varies with mating system and changes as youngsters grow up.
Parenting for Primates falls into the genre of popular science. Its intended audience includes mental health professionals and bright general readers interested in a comprehensive review of the psychology and evolutionary biology of parenting by human and nonhuman primates. Unlike many popular science books written by academics, Parenting for Primates is both a scholarly treatment of parenting in primates (supported by over 400 references) and reader-friendly.
Parenting for Primates thoroughly explores four aspects of primate parenting. The first four chapters review parental care of human and nonhuman primate infants by mothers, fathers, grandmothers, and babysitters. How parenting changes as offspring grow up is the topic of the next section of the book, with chapters about parenting toddlers, pre-teens, and adolescents/young adults. How mating systems (monogamy, polygyny, or parenting solo) influence parenting behavior is the focus of the next two chapters. The final chapters cover the etiology, nature, and extent of abuse and neglect by primate parents, and the genetic influences on parental behavior.
Each chapter begins with one or two vignettes that set the stage for the topics to be covered. Embedded within each chapter are various primate “tales” (anecdotes about patients from the author’s clinical psychology practice, her interviews of primatologists, or from her experiences managing a breeding colony of cottontop tamarin monkeys) that are germane to the discussion. The stories about human and nonhuman primates are funny, tragic, endearing, or appalling, depending on the subject matter.
Table of Contents
practiced as a clinical psychologist for 25 years. She began her career,
however, as a primatologist and managed a colony of cottontop tamarin
monkeys in her home for 30 years. During her three years
as a post-doctoral staff fellow at the National Institute of Child
Health and Human Development, she published multiple journal articles
on the vocal behavior of squirrel monkeys and spent four months
in the Peruvian rainforest observing wild primates. She then
retrained in clinical psychology at George Washington University
and completed her internship in clinical psychology in 1983.
With her background in comparative and clinical psychology, Smith became very interested in how primates, human and nonhuman, become good-enough parents. Her hand-raised tamarin pairs grew up to be incompetent parents and rejected each litter at the moment of birth. In the course of bottle-feeding countless infant monkeys, Smith wondered how primates actually acquire the necessary skills to become adequate parents. As she simultaneously raised the orphaned monkeys, her own two children, and worked with troubled families, Smith decided to survey the literature on primate parenting (in monkeys, apes, humans in traditional societies, and humans in industrial societies) in the hopes of understanding how competent parenting develops.
Harriet Smith earned her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Arizona department of psychology and her post-doctoral retraining certificate in clinical psychology from George Washington University.
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