Baby Wars: The Dynamics of Family Conflict

Robin Baker
Baby Wars

Baby Wars reassesses the ideal of the nuclear family, revealing the unacknowledged conflicts at the heart of even the happiest households. The family is the front line on the battlefield. While we consciously crave the quiet life, forces within us are implacably at war. Beneath the deep human instincts of motherhood, fatherhood, nurturing, and care lies another, still deeper instinct – the will to ensure our own genetic survival at the expense of others.

Here, Robin Baker joins forces with journalist and children’s books author Elizabeth Oram, to demonstrate the day-to-day Darwinism of parenthood and family life. With a series of instantly recognizable fictional situations, the authors offer evolutionary explanations for events in everyday family situations, including the Darwinian point of morning sickness; the evolutionary role of postnatal depression; the wider reproductive purpose of sibling rivalry; the biological roots of child abuse; and more.

When family strife surfaces, many people are tempted to blame themselves – or their partner, parents or grandparents – suspecting an element of inadequacy. But as this book shows, internal conflicts are a normal, inevitable, and even important feature of family life. Almost every aspect of parenthood generates a biological conflict of interests, and it is this conflict that spawns the difficulties that all parents experience. The result is that babies mean wars – between mother and father, between parents and children, and between the children themselves.

Baby Wars sheds light on the darkest secrets of family life and reveals the deep genetic reasons behind its outward irrationalities and the purpose underlying its most apparently destructive drives.