Here is the full text and summary of Psychologist Nichola Raihani’s talk titled “The Real Reason Modern Parenting Is So Hard” at TEDxManchester conference. In this talk, Nichola discusses why modern parenting can be difficult and stressful despite the advancements in technology and resources. She argues that the traditional nuclear family model is a deviation from the historical and cross-cultural norm of extended family units. She suggests that the ideal of the Western nuclear family places unrealistic expectations on parents and overlooks the benefits of multiple caregivers.
Listen to the audio version here:
The first members of our species emerged in Africa around 2 million years ago, and we’ve been parenting children ever since then. Since the 18th century, we’ve seen dramatic improvements in technology and health. And since the 1900s, rates of infant mortality have dramatically declined, from a historical global average of around 27% to 16% in 1950, and just 3% in more recent years. Today we enjoy more knowledge, more capability, and more resources than ever before to assist us on this noble journey of being a parent.
And yet, somehow, parenting has never felt so difficult or so stressful. For example, a recent NCT report found that around half of all new mothers suffer from emotional or mental health problems. Other research exploring the famous parental happiness gap has found that parents are more stressed and less happy than non-parents, and that this is especially true of parents who work.
So what’s going on here? With the greatest of respect to parents, and I am one myself, the reason modern parenting is so difficult is because, fundamentally, we’re doing it wrong. Let me explain.