The issue of alloparents’ role in the life of an infant

The issue of alloparents’ role in the life of an infant is rather controversial and deep. Sarah Hrdy admits that focusing on shared childcare is worth our attention while considering the problems connected with serious hypersocial tendencies. In Hrdy’s view, a woman’s mother would be much better alloparent than her mother-in-law. The reason has some deep socio-historical roots. In fact, the kinship is the background of any society. The author draws our attention to the fact that ancient people understood that their life and that of their children depended to a great extent on the other members of the group connected with the infant by blood relations. In my opinion, this theory is rather reasonable and worth attention. Even today, a great number of children feel some emotional intimacy to their alloparents, especially to their grandmothers.  One more interesting tendency is that sharing is uncommon for nonhuman apes, both its spontaneous and reciprocal kinds. At the same time, humans often prefer to offer the food to others as a gesture of hospitality. Actually, ancient people as well as our contemporaries looked for some opportunities to cooperate with other individuals. It is the demonstration of the nature and limits of human collaboration. As for the blood relations in this context, the author mentions that a mother orangutan or chimpanzee will not object her baby taking some food. Nonetheless, very rarely, she will offer it on her own initiative. As for the humans, the power of maternal instincts is incredible. In some cases, the mother will prefer to stay hungry so as to feed her baby. The relations created by marriage would not provide such a strong emotional interrelation with a relative that is provided by blood relations on the biological background.

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The author touches the issue of some social processes of a great importance, especially the decline of an extended American family that can be observed in the recent years. Isolated nuclear families prevail in our technologically advanced world. Every year, the number of families with grandparents decreases. Hrdy considers the humans to be no more static than other species are. The reason is that people are changing simultaneously with the environment they live in. People develop some high technologies, speculate about different tendencies and theories, and make some sensational inventions in the field of medicine. At the same time, the lack of empathy in families and some kind of indifference is one of the notorious tendencies in the modern society. The main principles of collaboration are empathizing with others, giving, sharing, and seeking reciprocation. To my mind, these very phenomena stimulated the process of human evolution. Hrdy expresses worry about the future of our species. The reason is the lack of care and empathy in nuclear families where there no alloparents. It can lead to some incontrovertible social transformations in the future. The author wonders whether our descendants will still be "human", whether they will be able to feel some empathy and curiosity about the emotions of others.

The author draws our attention to such a profound and serious issue as collaborative breeding. She makes an accent on the role of alloparents in rising up the children. An alloparent is a group member other than parent such as sibling, aunt, uncle, grandfather or grandmother who provides some kind of help with rearing the young.  The basis for her assertion is the socio-historical and biological theory of blood relation comparing to the relation by marriage. To motivate her point of view, the author gives us a number of examples that touch some ancient social processes and historical regularities. In my opinion, she is rather convincing in her arguments. A spirit of cooperation gave an unbelievable impulse to the human evolution. It stimulated the development of our intellection and worldview. To my mind, such a tendency to collaboration was even crucial in the evolution of the human culture. As for the role of family in this process, it is impossible to overestimate it. Family is the background of any society; it is the guaranty of saving some blood relations and some feelings of care, empathy, and identification.

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