“What could be more natural than a mother down on the recroom floor, playing with her 3year-old amid puzzles, fingerpuppets, and Thomas the Tank Engine trains? [. . . ]
“Actually, parent-child play of this sort has been virtually unheard of throughout human history, according to the anthropologist David Lancy. And three-fourths of the world’s current population would still find that mother’s behavior kind of dotty.
“American-style parent-child play is a distinct feature of wealthy developed countries — a recent byproduct of the pressure to get kids ready for the information-age economy, Lancy argues in a recent ar ticle in American Anthropologist, the field’s flagship journal in the United States.
“ ‘Adults think it is silly to play with children’ in most cultures, says Lancy, who teaches at Utah State University. Play is a cultural universal, he concedes, ‘but adults aren’t part of the picture.’ Yet middle-class and upper-middle-class Americans — abetted, he says, by psychologists — are increasingly proclaiming the parents-on-all-fours style the One True Way to raise a smart, well-adjusted child.”
— Christopher Shea, writing on “Leave those kids alone,” July 15 in the Boston Globe