There are multiple parenting styles that affect infant baboons and their chances of survival. These include restrictive parenting, permissive parenting, and the less common, “allomothering”.An infant baboon with a restrictive parent will often have higher chances at survival because it is subjected to a safe, low risk environment throughout its younger years. Restrictive mother baboons tend to be of low status, follow, protect, and restrain infants for a longer period of time than permissive parents. According to the University of Michigan, “it’s not too clear why this is- could it be that… high-ranking mothers are more secure that their kids… [will] be safe since they’re high-ranking?” The answer to this is still unknown, but it may be better understood if it this ranking relationship is compared to humans. Human children are often given a greater chance at survival due to precautions the parent might take, such as reinforcing the use of a bicycle helmet, eating the right foods, and staying away from hazardous materials. The differentiation displayed in baboons based on parenting styles is not as prevalent as in humans, because restrictive parents in humans can be of any class. However, restrictive parents often wish to protect their children from harm. A lower class baboon is more often in harm’s way, so it makes sense that they should want to protect their children actively. These baboon infants and human children will often have a greater chance at survival because they have leaders and protectors for a longer period of their lifetime.
Baboon infants with permissive parents don’t have lower chances at survival due to the fact that they are thrown into their independent lives at an early age. After only one month of life, the mother stops closely stalking the infant, leaving it vulnerable to natural dangers, like predators and bad foods. These permissive baboon families also tend to be of high status. This relates to young humans, as a permissive baboon parent is like a very lenient adult. These adults might let their children roam off on their own often, and thrust them into the real world with their own responsibilities. Although the correlations in baboon status and parenting styles are not as profound in humans, permissive parents allow their children to experience the world. As the upper class tends to be safer, the infants and parents don’t worry as much about threats, and the children have more freedom. Human children and infant baboons with permissive parents will have less of a chance at survival because they aren’t guided towards the safer path in life.
Allomothering in baboons is a lot like babysitting. A younger female gets to learn how to take care of children, and the parents have less stress. Also, if the infant’s mother should pass away, the baby has a much greater chance of being adopted. However, there are great risks to the child. As the young females are learning how to care for a baby, they aren’t very skillful at first. According to the University of Michigan, “babies don’t always get treated great by the alloparent… you see babies dragged around by their foot, sat upon, dropped.” This accidental abuse can result in severe injury or death. Luckily for baboons, allomothering does not occur as often as restrictive or permissive parenting. In humans, allomothering is equivalent to babysitting, and this happens quite often. A young person, usually female, takes on responsibility for another parent for a short period of time. They may not be great at first (though they aren’t found throwing children across the room), but they gradually get better. In both baboons and humans, allomothering trains inexperienced mothers, but the safety and chances of survival is lowered.
Restrictive parenting, permissive parenting, and allomothering are three parenting styles that affect the survival chances of both infant baboons and human children. Allomothering lowers the chances at infant survival while raising the chances of adoption, permissive parenting gives them a mediocre survival chance, and restrictive parenting provides the highest chance of infant survival.
Written By: Leah Ingle and Sage Marchand