Tribe VS Blood. Finding your Tribe A New Era of Tribal Parenting.
December 2018 - January 2019 Connect Magazine Article.
Does Tribal Parenting have a place in today’s Western culture? Is it something that’s achievable?
Modern Tribal Parenting is about using the wisdom of cultures from around the world, and that of our ancestors, along with learning to trust our intuition, allowing ourselves to follow biological norms, to trust our children, to believe that they understand their bodies and needs better than we do and to create a haven for them to grow, at their own pace.
Many of us who are moving into or living a more conscious life seem to find ourselves, at some point or another, creating distance from our biological families. Sometimes through trauma, sometimes through the deep desire to break the cycles of those who have come before us. For many of us the sense of obligation to the biology can be so strong that it can take decades for us to stand in our own personal power and follow what we need to live a safe and supported life.
When we release the past and let go of what has come before us we can begin to come into ourselves and as we grow stronger in our deep internal, personal connection we begin to attract a tribe. This tribe becomes more authentic as we each live more authentic lives. The tribe we attract and grow is filled with love, empathy, shared values, it is gentle and caring and this is partially because those around us are now there because they genuinely want to be.
Tribe is about togetherness, about supporting one another and allows us space as parents to have healthy breaks from our children. When we come together in multi-family groups we allow our children to see a wide variety of healthy adult human interactions that they would not otherwise see in the individual home, on television or in a child-centred space. It also allows parents to take time away from their children while knowing that the children are being cared for by other adults and older children who genuinely want to. This is a beautiful process for children under two or fully attached babies as the parents can take a much needed break while still being in the vicinity of their child and being visible, thus allowing parents a safe, nurtured space to refresh and reboot without removing the child from the situation. All of which allows for the continuation of attachment parenting and helps to eliminate issues such as anxiety, separation anxiety and fear of abandonment among other mental health issues, later in life. It also teaches our children how to interact in age appropriate ways with other children without families needing to have multiple children to entertain each other. Having smaller families has many benefits to everyone’s health, not just the children’s.
In our tribal settings we can remove ourselves from technology and immerse ourselves in nature, enjoy nourishing food, be creative, connect in with our children and welcome authentic interactions from others of all ages. As we raise our boys we can use the group size to our advantage by creating gentle and nourishing rites of passage to help them transition through their biological shift from boy to man. Having a tribe means that we can allow our boys to have more interactions with healthy male role models and still make it possible for some dads to work part/full-time. Circumstance and social expectation so often sees children raised only by women. I have experienced a pattern of a whole generation of fatherless men in my work in men’s mental health, which also means we now have a generation of children with very few male elders. Now is the time to embrace both parents in their important roles within our tribe to support healthy growth of our boys who will become our future men and fathers and to show our sons and daughters how to engage in healthy relationships.
Raising girls in a tribal setting is also important for creating a space to normalise the four stages of transition; as they experience their Menarche, leave Maidenhood for Motherhood, move into their Maga stage and onward towards their elder stage of Crone, the feeling of togetherness and support is crucial for healthy development.
We may even be able to experience having a variety of cultural backgrounds within our new tribe, which allows space and knowledge for continuation of traditional rites of passage ceremonies. Rites of passage are something that our Western culture is lacking and which have shown to help stabilise mental health through life.
Next time you are socialising, be it with biological family or your chosen tribe; take some time to feel into the moment. How does the interaction feel for you? Is the situation and relationship serving you? Are you being honoured? Are you being supported? Are you surrounded with genuine love and care? Is the space safe and free of judgement? Are you present? As you move through your social network allow yourself to stand in your personal power, for you, your children and your family and chose to spend your time and energy surrounded by people who nourish your soul.
I genuinely believe that we can create a new era of Tribal Parenting in our Western world and that not only can we achieve it but also that it is much needed if we are to break the cycles of mental illness and abuse. Each moment that we choose to be conscious in our parenting and our own lives we are moving towards a deeper connection to those around us. Whether you are a parent, grandparent or surrogate-parent you are capable of slowing down, tuning in and reconnecting with yourself, each other and nature, as you live more authentically your tribe will grow around you.
Parenting is not just for this moment, or for the next ten years, it is for the future of your lineage. You are strong, you are capable and you can break the cycles or strengthen the healthy patterns passed down to you.