Grandparents according to anthropology

Lgrandchildren explained to grandparents (1): this title could be read in both directions because this little book is aimed as much at the second as at the first, from the angle of anthropology.

It is therefore not just one more title on the relations between grandparents and grandchildren but rather a treatise on family anthropology accessible to all, with practical advice on the lives of young children. On the scientific side, we learn that grandparenthood is rare in the animal kingdom, with aging animals keeping a distance from their “grandchildren”. This is the case for older elephants, which play a significant role in the education of young males and females in their herd.

Also interesting is the result of the work of anthropologist Kristen Hawkes, who stayed in the 1980s with the Hadza, hunter-gatherers living in northern Tanzania. Older women work there longer than younger ones. Even after the age of 60, grandmothers do much to feed the community. From these observations, the scientist posed “The grandmother’s hypothesis” to try to explain the origin of the longevity of human beings, especially that of women, after menopause.

In this ancestral population, writes Gerard Janssen, mothers who spent time feeding their children procreated less. But when they were helped by grandmothers, they increased their offspring further.“Natural selection benefited women who retained their physical strength even though they were no longer fertile. The stronger these mature women remained, the better they could take care of their grandchildren. “

The idea behind this hypothesis is that mothers can consider having several children because grandmothers facilitate parent-child relationships. Finally, the author gives advice for living in harmony with each other.


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