As an expression of a mother-infant bond, many different species learn to raise their young together or for the other family member, which is known as alloparenting. This bond allows for multiple influences on the infant, the mother, and the group as a whole. These influences are advantages in many ways, one if the mother perishes the infant stands a better chance of being taken on by another member of the family, two if the mother is needed to go out and find food or water, the child will be able to stay with someone until she returns, and three young females who keep other infants have a chance to further their own future parenting skills.
The idea of alloparenting can be seen in many societies, but mainly in primates. . In the case of primates, where individuals other than the birth parents help raise, nurture, and in general interact with is called alloparenting. One of the many benefits of living in social groups is the ability to reach out to other family and friends in a time of need. It helps us bond together and form long lasting relationships with one another. This connection built is crucial to the development of expressive and receptive behavior.
The idea of helping one another is both needed and to some degree expected. In most cases the people around you are more than willing to give a helping hand, in other cases they may not have the option but to take on a new member to their family. This could be seen as foster care, babysitting, child care, or even as family time. When a mother gives birth to an infant, the hope is the baby will live a long and healthy life. In the case of the mother not making it after child birth, someone will take over the child and raise it as their own.
This, in the primate world, is considered an “aunt”, and would replace the role of the maternal needs for the child. If for some reason the mother has to leave the group, either for banishment or to find food for the others, the infant may be taken care of by an alloparent until the mother returns or the remainder of the infant’s life. One of the most crucial parts of alloparenting is the chance for younger generations of females to gain a better understanding of the role of motherhood.
This allows them to be trained earlier on in life and have a better foundation for when they have infants of their own. The benefits of alloparenting can be seen for generations and show how dedicated primates are to what they understand to be family. Primates know instinctively their survival depends on the survival of the offspring being born and raised to a mature age. The foundation built for the infants is the key to future knowledge and understanding of their way of life. In short, alloparenting has been working for many generations in many groups of life.
The idea of training young generations of soon to be moms and preparing them for the road ahead is something maybe more groups should adopt. Ensuring the groups survival by taking on the responsibility of an infant even if the infant is not their own, because of an absent mother for whatever the reason may be. Just knowing the bond and connection exists between other living species is phenomenal. Aristotle once said “In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous” and alloparenting is just one of the many wonders nature has bestowed among us.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 3 November 2016
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