What Does It Mean to Be a Parent

What exactly is parenting? It’s common for people to be excited when they learn they’re expecting their first child. There are undoubtedly other feelings that come and go. The question often arises, “Is breastfeeding really better for a child?” “Is it possible that I won’t be able to?” or, “How do you get your baby to fall asleep?” It is essential to ask questions like these. However, two of the most important questions often go unasked: “What is parenting?” and “Why is parenting important?” and “What is it like to be a parent?” Knowing what parenting is all about can help you develop a meaningful definition that will help you navigate the roller coaster of parenting.

Parenting: What Is It?

Let’s try to see the definition of the term first. Most dictionaries and other sources; the definition of parenting includes:

  • Offering a financially stable home life (this is different from being wealthy)
  • Understanding how to adapt to a child’s changing needs as they grow and develop
  • Providing assistance to children at every stage of development
  • Taking care of and nurturing a child
  • Parental responsibilities associated with raising children
  • Parental responsibilities arising from the responsibility of raising a child rather than the biological connection.
  • From conception to adulthood, the process by which a child is raised.
  • By taking actions to ensure your child’s social and educational development is in accordance with your values, as the child grows, you establish a healthy environment for them.

In addition to providing some insight into what parenting is, these definitions are accurate and helpful. They define parenting as a simple checklist but are a bit black-and-white. In that sense, they fall short of valuable parenting education. A parent’s role can be described as the meaning they attach to it.

What Does It Mean to Be a Parent?

Parenting isn’t simply a matter of tending to a child’s needs robotically. Although this type of care is crucial, it isn’t the only aspect of parenting. Psychology describes three primary aims of parenting, of which only the first involves basic needs.

  • Keeping the child safe and healthy
  • Getting kids ready to become independent adults
  • Aligning values with the culture of the parents

Kids’ safety and health and the provision of basic needs are essential to their survival, but parents also have other missions and responsibilities that make parenting more meaningful.

  • Taking care of basic needs
  • Protecting
  • Making preparations
  • Love
  • Leadership

It is the overarching role of a parent to prepare children for adulthood. As an illustration, imagine that you’re raising a child to be an adult and not a child to be a child. To help shape their children into successful adults and children with character, respect, a sense of responsibility, motivation, and skills, parents make choices and act in deliberate ways every day. Leadership relates to this preparation. It’s always more effective to lead by example than to lecture when parents serve as examples.

Though these responsibilities seem heavy and require multiple parenting skills, they’re also fun. Outings and games together and spending time together are among the main ways to prepare. Preparation is about taking action. A strong parent-child bond is created, and parenting becomes meaningful.

Even more potent than preparation is the act and attitude of unconditional love that defines a parent. Having kids can be challenging and filled with difficult times; however, when you share a bond rooted in love, you will always be able to come together no matter how much you disagree and argue. Your love for your children nurtures them and makes them thrive. Parenting is perhaps best described by a hug, a kiss on the head, laughter, and the joy of being together. It’s the essence of parenthood.

Parenting Styles

Being a parent is not easy. Sometimes it can be challenging and frustrating, but in the end, it is rewarding.

If you’re wondering what parenting means, take a look at some of these ideas: Some parents are strict about rules while others are laid back; some want their children to pursue an education but don’t mind if they decide not to go any further after high school or college. Then there’s the helicopter parent who wants their child to be successful in every aspect of life, from having all A’s on their report card to always be able to cook a gourmet meal. The problem with trying out different styles is that you never know which style will work best. Let’s look into the four main styles of parenting.


This is a style where the parents do not consider the child’s feelings and opinions. It is when the parents set rules and do not care to explain the reason behind them. You may recognize the famous phrase often used: “because I said so.”

In this style of parenting, the kids mostly receive punishment rather than discipline. They are made to regret their mistakes rather than given a chance to fix things or learn from them. This will not provide them with the opportunity to do things better but rather avoid mistakes to avoid punishment. This style may come with a significant disadvantage as kids would not understand how things work. This will give birth to the notion that I won’t get punished if I don’t get caught.


Here, the parents use negative and positive reinforcements. The parents praise and reward positive behavior and have the kids face the consequences of their mistakes. The kids are given a chance to fix things and understand what they did wrong and why it was wrong. This act prevents further behavioral problems in the future.

The parents would also take the child’s opinions into account and validate their feelings, often taking their side if they are in the right yet reprimand for their bad behavior and educate them further. “You’re right. He was being rude, first. But did you have to insult his momma?”


Permissive parents usually take on the role of a friend more than a parent. They encourage the kids to be open to them and talk about problems but rarely encourage them to make the right decisions. Permissive parents are usually lenient and only take action when there is a serious problem. They often set rules and consequences yet rarely enforce these rules.


Uninvolved parents are the type of people who don’t devote much time or energy to meeting children’s basic needs. Sometimes, it can be attributed to ignorance about child development, and other times, they simply lack knowledge on how to support their kids in a way that promotes healthy growth. Unintentional neglect is also an issue for these kinds of caretakers as well; they’re simply overwhelmed with other problems, like work, paying bills, and managing a household.

Now, these four styles are not concrete, and parents often mix these styles and adapt other types of parenting to suit the needs of the child and the parenting stage, as needed. Adaptability is the best arsenal for parents.

The Stages of Parenting

Most professionals and parenting books would break down the definitions of parenting into six stages:

Image-making (pregnancy).

There is no child to speak of yet, but it’s best to set your expectations. Creating a clear image would pave the way for how you would handle the child when they finally come.

Nurturing (birth to 18-24 months).

In these years, the child will be exploring and developing their cognitive skills, communication skills, and logic skills. You will start to see how the child’s personality is in terms of interacting with other people and how they respond to positive and negative reinforcements.

Authoritative (2 – 5 years).

Children need boundaries to feel safe. But, parents should also help their children learn how and why the rules exist by showing them that they are essential. This way, kids will be able to make good choices without feeling like parental interference is too heavy-handed or controlling – allowing for a better understanding of decision-making in general!

Interpretive (5 years – adolescence).

Parents can teach their children to be more empathetic and understanding by first teaching them how to understand the perspective of others. A child who is able to take on someone else’s feelings or emotions will feel less isolated when they are bullied, pressured into something, or made fun of for being different from everyone else. Parents should start this process early in a child’s development so that it becomes second nature as soon as they start navigating complex social situations.

Interdependent (during adolescence).

Parents and their children are given a new level of freedom in adolescence. This can often lead to disagreements as the family tries to find a balance between increased independence for the child while retaining “the final say” from parents. Conflicts may result in disputes, which is why it’s important for both teens and adults alike to communicate with each other effectively when going through this stage so that there will be fewer arguments later on down the line.

Departure (late adolescence to adulthood).

The departure stage is a critical phase when a child becomes independent as they acquire new skills and take on more responsibilities. It can be difficult for parents to let go, but it may also mean that the parent has enough time to pursue their interests again! 

With these, we hope you could find what it means to be a parent to your child. And remember, be gentle, be patient, be loving and always have a great day with the kids!



I'm a Mom of two daughters, Freya and Ava. I love to share insights on how parents can be better parents. I write about topics that are relevant to me as a parent: things like parenting style, relationship, marriage, and balancing work and family.

Boss Parenting
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