"Do Parents Matter?: Why Japanese Babies Sleep Soundly, Mexican Siblings Don’t Fight, and American Families Should Just Relax" with Robert & Sarah LeVine


Friday, December 9th, 12pm

Anthropology Department, Room 102

Bob LeVine, a professor emeritus at Harvard, has studied child rearing practices in several African societies. He taught at BU from 2006 to 2009. Sarah LeVine, a long-time research associate at Harvard, has worked with mothers and children in Africa, Nepal, Mexico and India. Their previous co-authored books include Literacy and Mothering: How Women’s Schooling Changes the Lives of the World’s Children (2012, Oxford University Press) and Child Care and Culture: Lessons from Africa (1994, Cambridge University Press). Sarah has also published Dolor y Alegria: Women and Social Change in Urban Mexico (1993, University of Wisconsin Press) and Mothers and Wives: Gusii Women of East Africa (1979, University of Chicago Press), among other books.

Do Parents Matter? seeks to make ethnographic observations of parenting available to American parents. In 1930, Margaret Mead suggested that worldwide variations in parenting were like a grand experiment enabling American parents to “read the answers” to questions of parenting instead of having to try out different practices themselves. In the 86 years since then anthropologists have studied parental practices in many parts of the world, and we agree that parents in our society can benefit from knowing that there are other ways of treating infants, toddlers and older children.