Parenting is the process of promoting and supporting the physical,
emotional, social, and intellectual development of a child from infancy
to adulthood. Parenting refers to the activity of raising a child rather
than the biological relationship.
In the case of humans, it is usually done by the biological parents of
the child in question, although governments and society take a role as
well. In many cases, orphaned or abandoned children receive parental
care from non-parent blood relations. Others may be adopted, raised by
foster care, or be placed in an orphanage.
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The goals of human parenting are debated. Usually, parental figures
provide for a child's physical needs, protect them from harm, and impart
in them skills and cultural values until they reach legal adulthood,
usually after adolescence.
Parenting models, tools, philosophies and practices
Although race may be a significant contributing factor, social class,
wealth, and income have the strongest impact on what methods of child
rearing are used by parents. Lack of money is found to be the defining
factor in the style of child rearing that is chosen, and minorities are
more likely to have less wealth or assets available for use in their
children's upbringing. Societal values and norms of a generation also
have an effect, as in the United States where authoritarian parenting
was the most popular until the 1960s when a backlash made permissive
parenting the most popular in the 1970s.
Developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind identified three main
parenting styles in early child development: authoritative,
authoritarian, and permissive. Maccoby and Martin expanded the styles to
four: authoritative, authoritarian, indulgent and neglectful. These four
styles of parenting involve combinations of acceptance and
responsiveness on the one hand and demand and control on the other.
There is no single or definitive model of parenting. What may be right
for one family or one child may not be suitable for another. With
authoritative and permissive (indulgent) parenting on opposite sides of
the spectrum, most conventional and modern models of parenting fall
somewhere in between.
Attachment parenting Seeks to create strong emotional bonds,
avoiding physical punishment and accomplishing discipline through
interactions recognizing a child's emotional needs all while focusing on
holistic understanding of the child.
Historic Developmental (Child as Apprentice) Skill Based Model As a
child's independent capacities emerge, ever more complex opportunities
for parental instruction in or modeling of the widest possible number of
essential skills and knowledge are presented. The child gains self-worth
simultaneous to the emergence of various physical and mental
competencies in an ever-growing number of essential venues, as adulthood
is approached. From the initial highly dependent relationship with
parents and direct community support, high levels of independence are
attained seamlessly while special skills and abilities of the child have
emerged in a manner relevant to successful adult vocational choices,
leisure pursuits, expanded life interests, and contributions to the
Nurturant parent model A family model where children are expected to
explore their surroundings with protection from their parents.
Single Parent Model The percentage of children being raised by
single parents has been flat for the last 20 years but it remains nearly
double the rate of 1970. Obstacles which create difficulty for single
parents relate primarily to a halving of the numerous resources
fundamental to parenting: income is often reduced dramatically;
opportunities to present and process adult male and female roles,
responsibilities, and skills to children is reduced; sharing of
household maintenance with another adult is reduced; opportunities to
see parents display affection and cooperation despite differences is
reduced; both boys and girls will lack the cooperative presentation of
adult male and adult female points of view regarding socialization
Slow parenting Encourages parents to plan and organise less for
their children, instead allowing them to enjoy their childhood and
explore the world at their own pace.
Strict father model An authoritarian approach, places a strong value
on discipline as a means to survive and thrive in a harsh world. Many
traditional Asian fathers tend to adopt a stoic demeanour in the family,
leaving the mother to communicate and interact with the child. This can
often inhibit the bond-building process between father and child.
Rules of traffic an instructional approach to discipline where
parents explain to their children how to behave, teaching the rules of
behavior as they would the rules of traffic, with little explanation or
deeper moral and social implications.
Fine gardening parents believe that children have positive and
negative qualities, the latter of which parents should "weed out" or
"prune" into an appropriate shape.
Rewards and punishments a method of discipline based on logic: for a
good behavior the child receives a reward or praise, and for a bad or
unwanted behavior the child receives a punishment or reprimand. To teach
a child by this logic may be very effective if it is done consistently.
Concerted cultivation fostering children's talents through organized
leisure activities. Parents challenge their children to think critically
and to speak properly and frequently, especially with other adults.
Parenting across the child's lifespan
Planning and pre-pregnancy
Family planning is the decision whether and when to become parents,
including planning, preparing, and gathering resources. Parents should
assess (amongst other matters) whether they have the required financial
resources (the raising of a child costs around $16,198 yearly in the
United States) and should also assess whether their family situation is
stable enough and whether they themselves are responsible and qualified
enough to raise a child. Reproductive health and pre - conception care
affects pregnancy, reproductive success and maternal and child physical
and mental health.
Pregnancy and prenatal parenting
During pregnancy the unborn child is affected by many decisions his or
her parents make, particularly choices linked to their lifestyle. The
health and diet decisions of the mother can have either a positive or
negative impact on the child during prenatal parenting. In addition to
physical management of the pregnancy, medical knowledge of your
physician, hospital, and birthing options are important. Here are some
key items of advice:
Many people believe that parenting begins with birth, but the mother
begins raising and nurturing a child well before birth. Scientific
evidence indicates that from the fifth month on, the unborn baby is able
to hear sound, be aware of motion, and possibly exhibit short-term
memory. Several studies show evidence that the unborn baby can become
familiar with his or her parents' voices. Other research indicates that
by the seventh month, external schedule cues influence the unborn baby's
sleep habits. Based on this evidence, parenting actually begins well
- Ask your prospective obstetrician how often he or she is in the
hospital and who covers for them when theyre not available.
- Learn all you can about your backup physician as well as your primary
- Choose a hospital with a 24-hour, in-house anesthesia team.
Depending on how many children the mother carries also determines the
amount of care needed during prenatal and post-natal periods.
Newborns and Infants
Newborn parenting, up to one month of age, is where the responsibilities
of parenthood begins. A newborn's basic needs are food, sleep, comfort
and cleaning which the parent provides. An infant's only form of
communication is crying, and attentive parents will begin to recognize
different types of crying which represent different needs such as
hunger, discomfort, boredom, or loneliness. Newborns and young infants
require feedings every few hours which is disruptive to adult sleep
cycles. They respond enthusiastically to soft stroking, cuddling and
caressing. Gentle rocking back and forth often calms a crying infant, as
do massages and warm baths. Newborns may comfort themselves by sucking
their thumb or a pacifier. The need to suckle is instinctive and allows
newborns to feed. Breastfeeding is the recommended method of feeding by
all major infant health organizations. If breastfeeding is not possible
or desired, bottle feeding is a common alternative. Other alternatives
include feeding breastmilk or formula with a cup, spoon, feeding
syringe, or nursing supplementer.
The forming of attachments is considered to be the foundation of the
infant/child's capacity to form and conduct relationships throughout
life. Attachment is not the same as love and/or affection although they
often go together. Attachment and attachment behaviors tend to develop
between the age of 6 months and 3 years. A lack of attachment or a
seriously disrupted capacity for attachment could potentially amount to
Until infants learn to walk, between 10 and 14 months, they are carried
in the arms, held in slings or baby carriers, or transported in baby
carriages or strollers. Upon learning to walk the child is then known as
Toddlers are much more active than infants and are challenged with
learning how to do simple tasks by themselves. At this stage, parents
are heavily involved in showing the child how to do things rather than
just doing things for them, and the child will often mimic the parents.
Toddlers need help to build their vocabulary, increase their
communications skills, and manage their emotions. Toddlers will also
begin to understand social etiquette such as being polite and taking
Toddlers are very curious about the world around them and eager to
explore it. They seek greater independence and responsibility and may
become frustrated when things do not go the way they want or expect.
Tantrums begin at this stage, which is sometimes referred to as the
'Terrible Twos'. Tantrums are often caused by the child's frustration
over the particular situation, sometimes simply not being able to
communicate properly. Parents of toddlers are expected to help guide and
teach the child, establish basic routines (such as washing hands before
meals or brushing teeth before bed), and increase the child's
Younger children are becoming more independent and are beginning to
build friendships. They are able to reason and can make their own
decisions given hypothetical situations. Young children demand constant
attention, but will learn how to deal with boredom and be able to play
independently. They also enjoy helping and feeling useful and able.
Parents may assist their child by encouraging social interactions and
modeling proper social behaviors. A large part of learning in the early
years comes from being involved in activities and household duties.
Parents who observe their children in play or join with them in
child-driven play have the opportunity to glimpse into their childrens
world, learn to communicate more effectively with their children and are
given another setting to offer gentle, nurturing guidance. Parents are
also teaching their children health, hygiene, and eating habits through
instruction and by example.
Parents are expected to make decisions about their child's education.
Parenting styles in this area diverge greatly at this stage with some
parents becoming heavily involved in arranging organized activities and
early learning programs. Other parents choose to let the child develop
with few organized activities.
Children begin to learn responsibility, and consequences of their
actions, with parental assistance. Some parents provide a small
allowance that increases with age to help teach children the value of
money and how to be responsible with it.
Parents who are consistent and fair with their discipline, who openly
communicate and offer explanations to their children, and who do not
neglect the needs of their children in some way often find they have
fewer problems with their children as they mature.
During adolescence children are beginning to form their identity and are
testing and developing the interpersonal and occupational roles that
they will assume as adults. Although adolescents look to peers and
adults outside of the family for guidance and models for how to behave,
parents remain influential in their development. Parents often feel
isolated and alone in parenting adolescents, but they should still make
efforts to be aware of their adolescents' activities, provide guidance,
direction, and consultation. Adolescence can be a time of high risk for
children, where newfound freedoms can result in decisions that
drastically open up or close off life opportunities. Parental issues at
this stage of parenting include dealing with "rebellious" teenagers, who
didn't know freedom while they were smaller.
Young adults as children become young adults their personalities
show the result of successful or unsuccessful parenting. Especially it
is noticeable when young adults make their independent life decisions
about their education, work and choosing mates for friendship or
Middle age and old age Parenting doesn't stop when children grow up
and age. Parents always remain to be parents for old children. Their
relationship continues developing if both parties want to keep it or
improve. The parenting issues may include the relationship with
grandchildren and stepchildren.
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