Alloparenting is the exotic-sounding term used to describe parenting of a child by individuals other than the biological parents of the child in question. But far from being exotic, alloparenting is the historical and contemporary norm.
Alloparenting sometimes comes courtesy of grandmothers, a topic touched upon in an NPR post yesterday. But alloparenting norms vary considerably depending upon local ecology. Research conducted by Karen L. Kramer in the Yucatán has shown the importance of children’s contributions to childcare and other aspects of family life there, a possibility not typically entertained when modeling the evolution of human society.