That’s a good question. What is parenting? Can anyone be a parent? Is there special training involved? Do you need to be married to be a parent? Well, the answers to these questions are actually quite simple.
Parenting is defined as the act of rearing, or raising, a child or children from birth until adulthood. Sounds easy enough, right? Of course, nothing is ever as easy as it sounds. Parenting is much more than raising a child from birth to adulthood. If you look at birth as one slice of bread and adulthood as the other slice, you can see there’s a lot of stuff missing from the middle. That is where the parenting comes in.
First, to answer the other questions listed above. Anyone can be a parent as long as they are willing to do what it takes. There is no special training required to be a parent, however taking a parenting class or reading on ways to be a good parent are always useful. And finally, no you do not have to be married to be a parent. Being a single parent is perfectly acceptable and is perfectly healthy for the parent child relationship.
Now, to the stuff that goes between the slice of bread that is birth and the slice of bread that is adulthood. Parenting involves all the stuff that goes in the middle of these slices of life. Parenting is what a person does to insure their child grows up to be a strong, respectful, and successful adult. There are two sides to parenting; the nice side and the not so nice side.
The nice side of parenting is the role of being the playmate, teacher, friend, nurturer, and caregiver. This is the side that allows you the freedom to explore life with your child, or children, in ways that are healthy and promote learning. This is the side your child sees when they are behaving in the way they should.
The not so nice side of parenting is the role of being the enforcer of rules, the punisher, and the boundary maker. This side is not always easy, but is quite necessary. Children need rules to live and act by. Without rules, they are not able to learn the skills needed to be independent and mature adults. When a child breaks a rule, the parent must become the punisher. This is when the parent uses natural consequences to teach their child that for every action, there is a reaction. Using timeout and restriction of privileges are usually the actions that the punisher uses. As a boundary maker, the parent sets up guidelines and structure for the child to follow. Because society itself is built on rules and structure, what better parenting time to teach these ideas then during the time between birth and adulthood.
Simply put, parenting is like building the ultimate sandwich. You have your first slice of bread which is when your child is born. You have the fillers of the sandwich or the parenting experiences that occur from the time the child is born until adulthood. Finally you have your second slice of bread which signifies your child becoming an adult. Your parenting is not necessarily complete because once you are a parent you are always a parent. This is what parenting is.