Act Natural: A Cultural History of Misadventures in Parenting

Written by:
Jennifer Traig
Narrated by:
Emily Woo Zeller

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
January 2019
11 hours 48 minutes
From a distinctive, inimitable voice, a wickedly funny and fascinating romp through the strange and often contradictory history of Western parenting

Why do we read our kids fairy tales about homicidal stepparents? How did helicopter parenting develop if it used to be perfectly socially acceptable to abandon your children? Why do we encourage our babies to crawl if crawling won’t help them learn to walk?

These are just some of the questions that came to Jennifer Traig when—exhausted, frazzled, and at sea after the birth of her two children—she began to interrogate the traditional parenting advice she’d been conditioned to accept at face value. The result is Act Natural, a hilarious and deft dissection of the history of Western parenting, written with the signature biting wit and deep insights Traig has become known for.

Moving from ancient Rome to Puritan New England to the Dr. Spock craze of mid-century America, Traig cheerfully explores historic and present-day parenting techniques ranging from the misguided, to the nonsensical, to the truly horrifying. Be it childbirth, breastfeeding, or the ways in which we teach children how to sleep, walk, eat, and talk, she leaves no stone unturned in her quest for answers: Have our techniques actually evolved into something better? Or are we still just scrambling in the dark?
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George S.

Main reasons I chose to listen to this story was because I am taking adolescent, lifespan development, and childhood psychology courses in school, as well as my extended family having newborns almost every 5-6 months of each other. I figured this would be a great educational read not only for myself, but to understand how to properly raise and interact with a child by learning from past experiences, as the author portrays in here. The book is amazing. Highly recommended for parents looking to have children, as well as parents with newborns. You learn about the history of birth, child rearing, midwives, and psychologically growing a child in healthy ways. What tops it all off however, is the humor that the author includes within the book and the narrator flawlessly executing that humor through pauses and sarcasm, as if you are listening to a comedy podcast host. Great listen in the car or on your own time at home. Some books are better when actually read, but this audiobook is exceptional through the narrator's voice. If you like funny podcasts, and want a quick educational lesson about child development, listen to this.

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