Biology’s 5 Biggest Parenting Fails



I am a huge science geek so naturally, I’m obsessed with the new science-tainment show, Cosmos: A Spacetime Osyssey, hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.  Every week my son and I sit mesmerized as Tyson brings the universe to life in our family room, describing the evolution of the universe and providing a tiny glimpse into one of humanity’s most profound questions: how did we get here?  But as I watch, I can’t help but to think that biology has failed us. Yes, the diversity of life on this planet is astounding and the human eye is an engineering miracle, but nature has come up short when it comes to parenting.  How so?  As parents we need a lot more resources than nature has given us, for example:

Another Pair of Arms – we only have two of these appendages, but we really need (at least) four.  With four arms, you could hold a crying infant in one arm, while comforting your toddler with the other…and cook dinner at the same time! Or walk the dog while pushing your baby in her stroller AND still grab your two year old before he darts out into traffic!  The more kids you have, the more arms you require.

Unlimited Energy Production – How many times have you asked a friend how she was doing and she replied, “Tired.”  Every parent I know is either, “wiped-out” or “exhausted.” Shouldn’t we have been designed to produce unlimited energy and gain physical stamina with each baby?  Strike two for nature.

Increased Dopamine Levels – In addition to increased energy, during childbirth a gene should switch on that increases dopamine levels in the brain.  Parenting requires unlimited patience and higher dopamine levels would keep us all very happy and zen…although I think the wine industry would probably suffer.

Eyes in the Back of Our Heads – I suppose I was a bit of a handful as a kid because I remember my mom telling me that she needed eyes in the back of her head to keep up with me…and I’m sure that she wasn’t the first mom to make that observation.  Another set of eyes would be incredibly helpful…nature, are you listening?

Superhuman Speed – Finally, despite millions of years of evolution, a two year-old is still infinitely faster than an adult.  How is it, that with our longer legs and agility and decades of experience, a todder who just learned to walk is still able to escape and evade capture by its parent (actually, on second thought, this may be quite intelligent on the part of nature).

Perhaps someday nature will transform us into four eyed, multi-armed, energetic, happy creatures with superhuman speed…until then I’ll continue to watch science shows on television and be awed by the beauty and elegance of the universe.


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