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Parenting (or child rearing) 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 aspects of raising a child aside from the biological relationship.
Parenting 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 in foster care, or placed in an orphanage.
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. Among non-human species, parenting is usually less lengthy and complicated, though mammals tend to nurture their young extensively. The degree of attention parents invest in their offspring is largely inversely proportional to the number of offspring the average adult in the species produces.
There is general consensus around parents providing the basic necessities, with increasing interest in children's rights within the home environment.
Providing physical security
Providing physical security refers to a safety of a child's body, safety of a child's life.
- To provide physical safety: shelter, clothes, nourishment
- To protect a child from dangers; physical care
- To care for a child's health
Providing physical development
- To provide a child with the means to develop physically
- To train the body of a child, to introduce to sport
- To develop habits of health
- Physical games
Providing intellectual security
Intellectual security refers to the conditions, in which a child's mind can develop. If the child's dignity is safe, that is nobody encroaches upon a child physically or verbally, then he is able to learn.
- To provide an atmosphere of peace and justice in family, where no one's dignity is encroached upon.
- To provide "no-fear," "no-threat, "no-verbal abuse" environment
- To spend bonding times and share wonderful moments with children
Providing intellectual development
- Reading, writing, calculating etc.
- Intellectual games
- Social skills and etiquette
- Moral and spiritual development.
Providing emotional security
To provide security to a child is to help protect and shield the child's fragile psyche. It is to provide a safe loving environment, give a child a sense of being loved, being needed, welcomed.
- To give a child a sense of being loved through:
Providing emotional development
development refers to giving a child an opportunity to love other people, to care, to help.
- Developing in a child an ability to love through:
Other parental duties
- Financial support: Money provided as child support by custodial or non-custodial parent(s), or the state
- Insurance coverage and payments for education
Parenting models, tools, philosophies and practices
Conventional models of parenting
- "Rules of traffic" models
It is an instructional approach to upbringing. Parents explain to their children how to behave, assuming that they taught the rules of behavior as they did the rules of traffic. What you try to teach a child doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll get through to them. For example, a teenager was told "a thousand times" that stealing was wrong yet the teen continued to do so. The problem of parenting, in this case, is not that they tried to teach him/her the right thing, but that they considered parenting as a single, narrow minded method of parenting, without fulfilling the range of parental duties.
- "Fine gardening" model
Parents believe that children have positive and negative qualities, the latter of which parents should "weed out" or "prune" into an appropriate shape. The problem in this parenting method is that parents fight with the faults of their child rather than appreciate their current achievements and/or capabilities; a method which may continue through their whole life without success.
"The models “rules of traffic” and “fine gardening” are especially dangerous because we, following our best motives, constantly quarrel with our children, destroy relationships, and all our parental work becomes a hopeless effort. Moreover, we don’t understand why this has happened." S.Soloveychik, 
- "Reward and punishment" model
"RaP" is a most popular model of parenting based on logic: for a good action - a reward/praise and for a bad action - a punishment/scolding/reprimand. To teach a child by this logic is relatively easy and can even be effective, especially if it is done consistently. It is because it forms a sense of justice in a child's mind that it works. But, simultaneously, it imparts the child's universal image of the reward and punishment and when real life doesn't prove to be just it undermines the child's faith in justice, according to S.Soloveychik. He writes "It is dangerous for the future of children. It may happen that a man, grown up by this model, facing the first serious failure or first trouble, would lift his arms and ask, “Why me?”
Modern models of parenting
Parenting typically utilizes tools of reward and punishment method, but most child development experts now agree that corporal punishment is not an effective behavior modification tool. In some jurisdictions corporal punishment (e.g., spanking or whipping) has been prohibited by law. Many parents have adopted non-physical approaches to child discipline, for example time-out. The other "civilized" forms of discipline behavioral control, structure, accountability, Parental supervision, etc.
- Examples of modern parenting models
A family model where children are expected to explore their surroundings with protection from their parents.
Places a strong value on discipline as a means to survive and thrive in a harsh world.
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.
"Parenting For Everyone"
The philosophy of Parenting For Everyone considers parenting from the ethical point of view. It analyses parenting goals, conditions and means of childrearing. It offers to look at a child's internal world (emotions, intelligence and spirit) and derive the sources of parenting success from there. The concept of heart implies the child's sense of being loved and their ability to love others. The concept of intelligence implies the child's morals. And the concept of spirit implies the child's desire to do good actions and avoid bad behavior, avoid encroaching upon anybody's dignity. The core concept of the philosophy of Parenting For Everyone is the concept of dignity, the child's sense of worthiness and justice.
Developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind identified three main parenting styles in early child development: authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive. These parenting styles were later expanded to four, including an uninvolved style. These four styles of parenting involve combinations of acceptance and responsiveness on the one hand and demand and control on the other.
- Authoritarian parenting styles can be very rigid and strict. Parents who practice authoritarian style parenting have a strict set of rules and expectations and require rigid obedience. If rules are not followed punishment is most often used to ensure obedience. There is usually no explanation of punishment except that the child is in trouble and should listen accordingly. "Because I said so" is a typical response to a child's question of authority, and this type of authority is used more often in working-class families than the middle class. In 1983 Diana Baumrind found that children raised in an authoritarian-style home were less cheerful, more moody and more vulnerable to stress. In many cases these children also demonstrated passive hostility.
- Authoritative parenting relies on positive reinforcement and infrequent use of punishment. Parents are more aware of a child's feelings and capabilities and support the development of a child's autonomy within reasonable limits. There is a give-and-take atmosphere involved in parent-child communication and both control and support are exercised in authoritative style parenting. Research shows that this style is most beneficial when parenting children.
- Permissive or Indulgent parenting is most popular in middle-class families. In these family settings a child's freedom and their autonomy are valued and parents tend to rely mostly on reasoning and explanation. There tends to be little if any punishment or rules in this style of parenting and children are said to be free from external constraints. Children of permissive parents are generally happy but sometimes show levels of self-control and self-reliance because they lack structure at home.
- An uninvolved parenting style is when parents are often emotionally absent and sometimes even physically absent. They have no little to no expectation of the child and regularly have no communication. They are not responsive to a child's needs to do not demand anything of them in their behavioral expectations. They provide everything the child needs for survival with little to no engagement. There is often a large gap between parents and children with this parenting style. Children with little or no communication with parents tended to be the victims of another child’s deviant behavior and may be involved in some deviance themselves. Children of uninvolved parents suffer in each of the following areas: social competence, academic performance, psychosocial development and problem behavior.
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. Parenting strategies as well as behaviours/ideals of what parents expect whether communicated verbally and/or non-verbally also play a significant role in a child’s development.
- Historic Developmental (Child as Apprentice) Model – As a child's independent capacities emerge, opportunities are continuously presented at an age appropriate level. The child gains self-worth simultaneous to the emergence of various competencies in an ever-growing number of essential venues, as adulthood is approached. From the initial highly dependent relationship with parents, high levels of independence are attained seamlessly while special skills and abilities of the child have emerged in a manner relevant to adult vocational choices and life interests.
- Attachment Parenting- strengthen the intuitive, psychological and emotional bond between the primary caregiver
- Helicopter Parenting- over-parenting, parents are constantly involving themselves, interrupting the child's ability to function on their own
- Narcissistic Parenting- parents are driven by their own needs, their children are an extension of their own identity, use their children to live out their dreams
- Positive Parenting- unconditional support, guiding them and supporting them for healthy development.
- Slow Parenting- allowing the child to develop their own interests and allowing them to grow into their own person, lots of family time, allowing children to make their own decisions, limit electronics, simplistic toys
- Spiritual Parenting- respecting the child's individuality, making space for child to develop a sense of their own beliefs through their personality and their own potentials
- Strict Parenting- Focused on strict discipline, demanding, with high expectations from the parents.
- Toxic Parenting- poor parenting, complete disruption of the child's ability to identify one's self and reduced self-esteem, neglecting the needs of the child and abuse is sometimes seen in this parenting style
- Unconditional Parenting- giving unconditional positive encouragement
Parental Roles and Responsibilities
The ideology of "motherhood" portrays mothers as being the ultimate caregivers. They invest most if not all of their time on their children which sometimes affects their job and role in the labor market. Although stay at home moms are less common, women are seen as spending more time with children than men. They are commonly the nurturers of the children and support emotional growth and stability.
Fathers now more than ever are spending more time with their children. Whereas in the past, fathers were the breadwinners and the mothers stayed at home to cook, clean and take care of children, the roles are starting to reverse. Fathers are participating more in parenting roles and taking on responsibilities such as bathing, dressing, feeding, changing diapers and comforting children.
Parenting issues across the child's lifespan
Planning and Pre-pregnancy
- Main article: Family planning
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 preconceptional care affect pregnancy, reproductive success and maternal and child physical and mental health.
Stresses of Role Transition
In 1968 Alice Rossi identified five stresses involved in entering parenthood
- Irreversibility speaks to the issue that unlike other roles, one cannot easily leave parenthood once a child is born.
- Lack of Preparation is exactly what it says. There is absolutely no way to plan for and practice parenting until you have a child in your arms to take care of constantly.
- Idealization and Romanticization is the issue that if and when the reality of being a parent turns out to be different than what is expected, it is easy for new parents to become frustrated and disappointed in their new roles.
- Suddenness addresses the issue that regardless of months of pregnancy, an individual goes from being a non-parent to a parent the moment that childbirth occurs and with that is the same suddenness of the responsibilities that go along with it.
- Role Conflict is felt when the parental role affects all other roles that are held by the individual. It is sometimes difficult to manage all roles which can lead to stress and unhealthy coping.
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.
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 (e.g. Kissilevsky et al., 2003) 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 before birth.
Depending on how many children the mother carries also determines the amount of care needed during prenatal and post-natal periods.
Changes with the Arrival of Children
Five domains of change have been identified in new parents by Carolyn and Phillip Cowan with the arrival of new children.
- Identity and inner life changes is when parents no longer only think of themselves. Priorities and personal values change with an addition of a child in their life.
- Shifts within marital roles and relationships are changes in how couples divide tasks and responsibilities. Because of the fatigue associated with new children relationship quality may diminish.
- Shifts in intergenerational relationships occur when becoming new parents alters the relationship between themselves and their own parents.
- Changes in roles and relationships outside of the family is when becoming a new parent changes relationships at work or in friendships. New children hold all priority and so other aspects of life and relationships are sometimes put on hold or the relationship is altered.
- New parenting roles and relationships is the agreeable division of childcare among partners.
Newborns and Infants
- Main article: Infant
Newborn parenting, 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. Attachments develop immediately and a lack of attachment or a seriously disrupted capacity for attachment could potentially do serious damage to a child's health and well-being. Physically one may not see symptoms or indications of a disorder but emotionally the child may be affected. Studies show that children with secure attachment have the ability to form successful relationships, express themselves on an interpersonal basis and have higher self-esteem . Conversely children who have caregivers who are neglectful or emotionally unavailable can exhibit behavioral problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder or oppositional-defiant disorder .
Oppositional-defiant disorder is a pattern of disobedient, hostile, and defiant behavior toward authority figures .
- Main article: Toddler
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 turns.
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 responsibilities. It is also normal for toddlers to be frequently frustrated. It is an essential step to their development. They will learn through experience; trial and error. This means that they need to experience being frustrated when something does not work for them, in order to move on to the next stage. When the toddler is frustrated, they will often behave badly with actions like screaming, hitting or biting. Parents need to be careful when reacting to such behaviours, giving threats or punishments is not helpful and will only make the situation worse.
- Main article: Child
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 modelling 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 children’s 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.
Parents are expected to make important decisions about preschool education and early childhood education. Parents have to love and care for their preschoolers doing all that they can to keep them safe. It is important not to keep things laying around that is dangerous to small children and items that say keep out of reach of children. Children at this age are very likely to put things in their mouths and eat and drink things that are dangerous to their health.
Elementary and Middle School Years
Parenting issues related to parenting school age children include Education, Kindergarten, Primary education. Parents must also gear them for the school years to come, which require emotional toughness.
- Main article: Adolescence
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. Therefore it is important that parents must treat them as young 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. A teenager who thinks poorly of him or herself, is not confident, hangs around with gangs, lack positive values, follows the crowd, is not doing well in studies, is losing interest in school, has few friends, lacks supervision at home or is not close to key adults like parents are vulnerable to peer pressure. 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 new found 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. In order to prevent all these, it is important to build a trusting relationship with them. This can be achieved by planning and spending fun activities together, keeping your promises, do not nag at him or her about their past mistakes and try to listen and talk to them, no matter how busy you are. When a trusting relationship is built, they are more likely to approach you for help when faced with negative peer pressure. Also, try to built a strong foundation to help your child to resist negative peer pressure, it is important to build up their self-esteem:Praise your child's strength instead of focusing on their weakness (It will make them feel good and grow confident about themselves, so he/she does not feel the need to gain acceptance from his peers), acknowledge your child's efforts, do not simply focus on the final result (when they notice that you recognize his/her efforts, he/she will keep trying), and lastly, disapprove the behavior, not the child, or they will turn to their peers for acceptance and comfort.
When grown-up children become 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 marriage.
Adults and Older Adults
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 children-in-law.
- Main Article: Parenting styles
There are four universal parenting styles, each with different methods of parenting. Each parenting style has different levels of demand and responsiveness and the resulting child is different for each style.
Parents may receive assistance from a variety of individuals and organizations. Employers may offer specific benefits or programs for parents. Many governments provide assistance to parents.
- Parental leave
Another source of Assistance is other parents. Using the advice of other parents is sometimes the best advice due to the fact that some have lived through exactly what you are experiencing
Research shows that 70 percent of parents place their child in some type of child care setting, making child care an essential component of parenting. Because another individual will be partnering in raising your child it is important to choose a facility that fits your needs and matches your values and goals for your child. Location, setting and cost are all extremely important in choosing a child care facility. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) identifies ten items to make sure your child is in a good early child care setting:
- Children spend most of their time playing and working with materials or other children. They do not wander aimlessly, and they are not expected to sit quietly for long periods of time.
- Children have access to various activities throughout the day. Look for assorted building blocks and other construction materials, props for pretend play, picture books, paints and other art materials, and table toys such as matching games, pegboards, and puzzles. Children should not all be doing the same thing at the same time.
- Teachers work with individual children, small groups, and the whole group at different times during the day. They do not spend all their time with the whole group.
- The classroom is decorated with children's original artwork, their own writing with invented spelling, and stories dictated by children to teachers.
- Children learn numbers and the alphabet in the context of their everyday experiences. The natural world of plants and animals and meaningful activities like cooking, taking attendance, or serving snack provide the basis for learning activities.
- Children work on projects and have long periods of time (at least one hour) to play and explore. Worksheets are used little if at all.
- Children have an opportunity to play outside every day. Outdoor play is never sacrificed for more instructional time.
- Teachers read books to children individually or in small groups throughout the day, not just at group story time.
- Curriculum is adapted for those who are ahead as well as those who need additional help. Teachers recognize that children's different background and experiences mean that they do not learn the same things at the same time in the same way.
- Children and their parents look forward to school. Parents feel secure about sending their child to the program. Children are happy to attend; they do not cry regularly or complain of feeling sick.
Some organizations advocating more parental rights in the United States:
- Benjamin Spock, was an authority on parenting to a generation of North American parents.
- T. Berry Brazelton, the founder of the Child Development Unit at Children's Hospital, Boston, and Professor of Pediatrics Emeritus at Harvard Medical School.
- Jesper Juul is a Danish family therapist and author and a renowned international authority on the family.
There are several parent self-report measures that have been developed for use by clinicians and researchers to assess parenting.
- Main article: Parenting assessment
- Affectional bond
- Assessment of parenting skills
- Child custody
- Child development
- Child discipline
- Empty nest syndrome
- Evolutionary psychology of parenting
- List of child related articles
- Maternal bond and paternal bond
- Parental alienation
- Parental supervision
- Parenting Coordinator
- Parenting practices
- Pedagogy (such as Montessori's 'scientific pedagogy')
- Shared parenting
- Single parent
- Sociology of fatherhood
- Sociology of motherhood
- Parental leave
- Parental responsibility
- Parenting styles
- Parenting skills
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- Parenting News and Discussions
- The Parent Connection
- Biblical Parenting The National Center for Biblical Parenting
- Your Parenting SolutionsThe Connection Parenting
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- Mothering By Grace Mothering Support for Christians
- Families First Discussion and advice by Parents for Parents
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