Being a parent entails taking on the responsibility of children. During the child’s developmental years, the parent has the greatest influence over the child’s growth and well-being. What is the role of a parent?
Parenting responsibilities include providing for the emotional, physical, educational, social, and financial needs of the children of the family. Children enter this world as helpless newborns, so the role of parent is a critical one from the very beginning. As children advance through the developmental stages, their needs change slightly, but the basic needs remain the same.
Obviously, children have the same basic needs that all people have. The basic needs of children are considered to be food, water, shelter, safety, and love. Safety is often a concern for new parents as they childproof their homes. The need for safety continues throughout the child’s developmental years. Safety includes providing a safe environment free from abuse as well as teaching the child to be safe such as teaching the child to look before crossing a street.
Love is considered a basic need of a child, though love was not always considered to be a required basic need. This changed when sociologists and psychologists discovered the loss of the lives of orphans in some foreign orphanages who were given food and shelter. These children who died or failed to thrive were not given love or social interaction that a child seems to need in order to develop normally.
Parents are ultimately responsible for the educational needs of the child. Though most American children attend school, parents are responsible for their child’s attendance at school or in a homeschooling program.
Children also learn a great deal before attending school such as talking, toilet-training, and walking.
Children have social needs such as learning to interact with peers appropriately. Children who do not have sufficient social interaction often suffer from developmental delays in speech and peer relationships. Emotional needs include encouraging a healthy self-esteem and learning to express their feelings in healthy ways.
Another part of the parenting role is to expose the child to new experiences. If a child is sheltered in the home, the child’s world view can be severely limited. By exposing the child to other people and activities, the child is more likely to recognize the vast nature of the world and variations in activities that are available. Children may also begin to understand the variations of people’s life experiences, priorities, roles, and values.