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A little while back I asked our Facebook fans and Twitter followers to provide me with their own definition of parenting. I was looking to see how other parents define their role in the life of their child(ren). As a relatively new parent myself, I find it interesting to see what people come up with when you ask them this question. Several of you responded with your definition and I’ve posted most of the responses below.
pair-uhn-ting – noun – the rearing of children; the methods, techniques, etc., used or required in the rearing of children; the state of being a parent.
Adjective – of or concerned with the rearing of children.
Okay, there’s nothing wrong with that. But what does that mean? “Rearing” itself has many definitions as well, including “to take care of and support up to maturity” and “to breed and raise.” Combining definitions one might say that parenting means to take care of and support your child up to maturity. You could even further define “take care” and “support” and the definition would go on and on.
But if you read between the lines of the definition you will notice that nowhere does it mention being a father or mother. Rather than the biological connection it focuses on the process itself. I think this is important because giving birth to a child or fathering a child doesn’t give you rights to say you are now parenting, it only makes you a mom or a dad. The act of raising a child is the essential element of parenting.
Raising a child is the hard part. There is not a user manual; no do-overs. Sure, there are plenty of resources out there that are in place to assist parents and answer questions they may have. But all the resources, without effort on a parent’s part, are useless. In my first year as a parent I can speak of the effort my wife and I have put into raising our daughter, but I also know that it probably pales in comparison to the effort a single parent gives, or parents of multiple children. But effort, nonetheless, is one of the most essential characteristics of a parent.
Parenting: The act of making oneself a cornerstone upon which your child can build a foundation for a better life.
And by “better” I’m talking about better than it would be without your continuous effort. Children can grow up and rise above their circumstances to live incredible and productive lives. But I think it’s my job to help lift up my children and give them the foundation to begin with. Even in writing this article I’m reminded of a quote that is printed on a picture hanging in my grandparent’s house. It says “There are only two lasting bequests we can give our children… one is roots, the other wings.” I can’t speak for other parents, but what greater legacy can you leave than a good pair of wings (figuratively speaking).
Here’s what other parents had to say for their definition of parenting:
Lori Lite @stressfreekids “Parenting is a journey of self discovery.” Very true. I’ve been a parent for just over a year and learned much about myself during that time.
Ron Gould @rgouldtx “Living and loving by example, not edict.” Great way to put it, Ron. It’s possibly the hardest thing you’ll do in your life to live by example, but you have to.
Brittany Sinzinger @mrss1228 “Parenting is a challenge and adventure with the most rewarding end prize.” Mostly agreed. I think, unfortunately, there’s not always a reward at the end for some parents, and possibly not as a result of anything the parent has or hasn’t done. But if you are one of the lucky parents that gets to experience the “reward,” what a blessing that must be.
Pete G @indydadblogger “Sometimes pissing your kids off but having their best interest at heart.” Very frank, but further defines parenting as a selfless act. You won’t always be your child’s best friend, and raising them requires making tough calls they won’t always appreciate.
@debutdad “Parenting is essentially teaching with a lot of unconditional love.” My wife, a teacher, and I couldn’t agree more. It’s our job to continually teach our daughter and any future children for as long as we live. The lesson plans don’t get a summer break, sick days, or time off for the holidays. You must always be teaching and in doing so, showing your love in another important way.
But what do you think? Please leave your definition below or email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I may add it to this post officially.