Raised by Wolves

20140529-131015.jpgIn other breaking news, I saw a video clip recently of a mother brown bear rescuing her cub from a busy highway. Go ahead. Google it. I’ll wait.

You’re probably a rebel and didn’t Google it, so I’ll recap. A cub had somehow gotten on the trafficy side of a highway barrier and was in immediate danger of becoming road kill. The mother bear stood up behind the barrier and peered over it, LOOKED BOTH WAYS FOR ONCOMING TRAFFIC – left, right, then left again, even – and then reached over and pulled her cub by the neck to safety.  It’s a cute video, but because I am an expert at over-analyzation, I’m going to say it’s way more than that.

As far as I know, no mother bears (and indeed, no other animal mothers) take parenting classes. They do not meet over by the second pine on the left for group therapy sessions in regard to behavior management. They do not flock to the nearest Barnes & Noble self-help aisle for the latest book on How To Raise A Brighter, Smarter, More Caring Cub. I dare say they don’t even watch television talk shows for advice from other bears who have Ph.D.s in Early Cub Development.  How is it, then, that bear cubs do, indeed, survive their cubhood and grow into perfectly good brown bears? And why the hell is it that we humans, with our vast array of advice and education, continually screw up this parenting thing?

Animal mothers seem to have something we have lost through the evolutionary process – common sense.  For years, we have coined the term “raised by wolves” to denote children who run wild and have no manners.  I think we’re selling the wolves short with that term, and giving ourselves way too much much credit. 

Google “how to breastfeed”, and you will get over 4,420,000 results. Basically, there are 4,420,000 people telling you how to do the absolute most natural thing on earth. Bears do it. Wolves do it. Even cats do it, and I hate cats. Where along the way did we lose the basic instinct of feeding our babies? Thank God for Google, or we would have these children and not know how to feed or water them. We also have apparently forgotten how to teach them to make conversation (although we have taught them to text by the age of two) or use decent manners (again, we have taught them to text by the age of two.) 

For a few billion years now, the life cycle has gone like this…things reproduce, they are taught to survive in their environment, and those things reproduce. It was done without the benefit of the human brain for quite a while before we came along and knew everything about everything. Once we happened upon the knowledge of everything about everything, we felt the need to share it with others via social media.  What would happen now if we disconnected? What would happen if we relied upon our own common sense to parenting? Theoretically, we are animals as well, and so innately should have the capacity to reproduce, teach our offspring to survive in our environment, and have them continue the cycle.  

But alas.

Turn on the news. “Child left in hot vehicle dies of heat exhaustion.” “Child left to wander onto city streets while mother naps.” “Child out of his car seat dies in crash.”  We have lost the common sense that tells us that cars get hot, we should stay awake when our kids are home, and we should put our children in car seats. None of those things require an advanced degree or even an internet search to know.  Go to Walmart. “If you don’t stop your crying, I’ll beat your ass.” Oh, yes, because fear and intimidation is a great way to help a child become happy and well-adjusted. (I’m no Dr. Phil, but I’m guessing it didn’t work when their parents said it, either.)

Why has our parental common sense become so watered down? I’m not suggesting that being a parent is easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy, but that we were born with a sense of right and wrong, of safe and unsafe, of helpful or hurtful, and somewhere along the way, because of maltreatment from others, improper role models, or too many Jackass reruns, we have lost it. Our cubs wander onto a busy highway, and instead of looking both ways and pulling them back, we pull out our phones and videotape it. We Google things like, “how to keep your kids off drugs” instead of putting down our own bottles and having meaningful conversations with them. Perhaps we should let our kids be raised by animals. At least they would have enough sense to look both ways before crossing the street.

photo source: wtkr.com

2 thoughts on “Raised by Wolves

  1. I think a common sense approach would alleviate a lot of mommy-guilt that we tend to feel. So many moms seek perfection based on what they see other moms doing (or what they think other moms are doing). Great post!

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