"Alloparents” are non-parents who provide parental care to children and thus enhance children’s development and family wellbeing. They matter, since the once-dominant heterosexual nuclear family model has been overtaken by cohabitating caregivers, second marriages, blended families and single caregiver families. Research shows that it’s not the family form that matters to children’s development as much as how the relationships feel. The nuclear family was never the norm worldwide, as we know from famed anthropologist Margaret Mead, who thought children should be raised in a network of caring people. “Nobody has ever before asked the nuclear family to live all by itself in a box the way we do,” she wrote. The pandemic has shown us how fragile that model is and how hard it is for families to go it alone.

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