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.
The most common caretaker in parenting is the biological parent of the child in question, although others may be an older sibling, a grandparent, a legal guardian, aunt, uncle or other family member, or a family friend. Governments and society may have a role in child-rearing 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. Parenting skills vary, and a parent with good parenting skills may be referred to as a good parent.
Social class, wealth, culture and income have a very strong impact on what methods of child rearing are used by parents. Cultural values play a major role in how a parent raises their child. However, parenting is always evolving; as times change, cultural practices and social norms and traditions change.
A family's social class plays a large role in the opportunities and resources that will be made available to a child. Working-class children often grow up at a disadvantage with the schooling, communities, and parental attention made available to them compared to middle-class or upper-class upbringings. Also, lower working-class families do not get the kind of networking that the middle and upper classes do through helpful family members, friends, and community individuals and groups as well as various professionals or experts.
Parenting practices reflect the cultural understanding of children. Parents in individualistic countries like Germany spend more time engaged in face-to-face interaction with babies and more time talking to the baby about the baby. Parents in more communal cultures, such as West African cultures, spend more time talking to the baby about other people, and more time with the baby facing outwards, so that the baby sees what the mother sees. Children develop skills at different rates as a result of differences in these culturally driven parenting practices. Children in individualistic cultures learn to act independently and to recognize themselves in a mirror test at a younger age than children whose cultures promote communal values. However, these independent children learn self-regulation and cooperation later than children in communal cultures.
A parenting style is the overall emotional climate in the home. Developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind identified three main parenting styles in early child development:
- Authoritative parenting
- Authoritarian parenting
- Permissive parenting
- Uninvolved parenting
Parenting skills are the guiding forces of a "good parent" to lead a child into a healthy adult, they influence on development, maintenance, and cessation of children’s negative and positive behaviors.
Attachment parenting is only one of many responsiveness and love-oriented parenting philosophies that entered the pedagogical mainstream after World War II, and it owes many of its ideas to older teachings, such as Benjamin Spock's influential handbook baby and child care.