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Parenting is the process of actively providing a safe, secure, nurturing environment for your children. It requires flexibility to meet the unique needs of individual children, the firmness to set needed limits and the maturity to sometimes set aside your needs and desires for the benefit of your children.
People are not born with the essential skills to be parents, although some people have a natural temperament that makes it easier for them to parent. To some degree, learning how to parent involves considerable trial and error. Parents who are open to learning how to improve their parenting skills usually become better parents over the course of time.
A parent's role changes as children grow up. When children are young, this role is to nurture, protect and guide them. Parents must continue to do this, but to a lesser extent, as children grow older. As children mature, the most important role parents take on is to help prepare them to be independent.
Children need to receive messages from their parents that they are lovable, capable and special in positive ways. They need to know that their parents are available when they need help and support and are eager to be present to witness their accomplishments. They also need parents to provide an atmosphere that is mentally and physically challenging and stimulating.
Learning how to be a parent is an ongoing process. When in doubt about your parenting, talk to other parents, attend parenting classes, and gather information from books, magazines, television, and radio. If you still have major concerns, consult with a professional who specializes in working with parents and children. Some ways to improve include: