Just browse the shelves of your local bookstore for parenting books and you will know that there is no shortage of theories and research to be found on the subject of parenting. How can one word, bring so much variation? As parents, how can we know what we are supposed to be doing without a clear definition of what it means to be a parent?

My Definition of Parenting

Throughout my career and personal life I have come in contact with thousands of families. When parenting isn’t going as smoothly as a parent has hoped, or some major behavior problem has surfaced, the question is always about discipline. How should I be disciplining my child? While this may be a valid question, it really is not the first question a parent should be asking. The first question should be, what does it mean to be a parent? What I have learned by looking back at my early babysitting years, my experience as a Youth Counselor, and now as a mother, is that I have my own definition about parenting, parenting is a job. Parenting is the job of preparing a child to function and thrive in our complex society. Here is my parenting job description.

Parenting Job Description

  1. Teach them morals. The debate about whether children are born good continues but I have seen plenty of moral-less toddlers in my time. Regardless if they are born good or not, morals must be taught and reinforced. Humans were not created to live in the complex societies we now find ourselves in. For a society to function, the people living in the society must follow a basic set of rules. These rules are the foundation of all religions and regardless of your beliefs, they are all very similar. It is a parent’s job to make sure your child understands and demonstrates these morals.
  1. Teach them to care for themselves. Teach them proper hygiene, how to cook, how to clean, and how to take care of their possessions.
  1. Teach them social norms and how to socialize properly in our society. Teach them manners, how to speak correctly, how to answer a phone, how to write a letter, and all the other skills necessary to communicate well. This includes teaching them a decent vocabulary.
  1. Teach them how to work. Being lazy and entitled will only bring a child a miserable adult-hood. Humans need to feel they have a purpose in order to have self-esteem. Don’t praise them for smarts and talent, praise them for effort and hard-work. Success is not luck; it is only attained by those willing to work for it.
  1. Teach them about money. I learned about money by going into debt as a young adult. This was not the way I want my children to learn. Give them an allowance, savings accounts, and knowledge about finances. If your children know about the value of goods and services they will also gain gratitude.

This list is a condensed version of my master parenting job description but shows the foundation of my beliefs on what it means to be a parent. Love, nurture, trust, and safety are also necessary ingredients in my parenting job description. What does your parenting job description include?