Factors that affect parenting decisionsSocial class, wealth, and income have the strongest impact on what methods of child rearing are used by parents.* Lack of money is found to be the defining factor in the style of child rearing that is chosen. As times change so does the way parents parent their children.
In psychology, the parental investment theory suggests that basic differences between males and females in parental investment have great adaptive significance and lead to gender differences in mating propensities and preferences.*A family's social class plays a large role in the opportunities and resources that will be made available for 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. 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 stylesA parenting style is the overall emotional climate in the home.* developmental psychology|Developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind identified three main parenting styles in early child development: authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive.* These parenting styles were later expanded to four, including an uninvolved style. These four styles of parenting involve combinations of acceptance and responsiveness on the one hand and demand and control on the other.*Authoritative parenting :Described by Baumrind as the "just right" style, in combines a medium level demands on the child and a medium level responsiveness from the parents. Authoritative parents rely on positive reinforcement and infrequent use of punishment. Parents are more aware of a child's feelings and capabilities and support the development of a child's autonomy within reasonable limits. There is a give-and-take atmosphere involved in parent-child communication and both control and support are. Research shows that this style is more beneficial than the too-hard authoritarian style or the too-soft permissive style. ;Authoritarian parenting styles :Authoritarian parents are very rigid and strict. They place high demands on the child, but are not responsive to the child. Parents who practice authoritarian style parenting have a rigid set of rules and expectations that are strictly enforced and require rigid obedience. When the rules are not followed, punishment is most often used to promote future obedience.* There is usually no explanation of punishment except that the child is in trouble for breaking a rule.* "Because I said so" is a typical response to a child's question of authority. This type of authority is used more often in working-class families than the middle class. In 1983 Diana Baumrind found that children raised in an authoritarian-style home were less cheerful, more moody and more vulnerable to stress. In many cases these children also demonstrated passive hostility. ;Permissive parenting :Permissive or indulgent parenting is more popular in middle-class families than in working-class families. In these family settings, a child's freedom and autonomy are overvalued, and parents tend to rely mostly on reasoning and explanation. Parents are undemanding, so there tends to be little, if any punishment or explicit rules in this style of parenting. These parents say that their children are free from external constraints and tend to be highly responsive to whatever the child wants at the moment. Children of permissive parents are generally happy but sometimes show low levels of self-control and self-reliance because they lack structure at home. ;Uninvolved parenting :An uninvolved or neglectful parenting style is when parents are often emotionally absent and sometimes even physically absent.* They have little or no expectation of the child and regularly have no communication. They are not responsive to a child's needs and do not demand anything of them in their behavioral expectations. If present, they may provide what the child needs for survival with little to no engagement.* There is often a large gap between parents and children with this parenting style. Children with little or no communication with their own parents tended to be the victims of another child's deviant behavior and may be involved in some deviance themselves.* Children of uninvolved parents suffer in social competence, academic performance, psychosocial development and problem behavior.
There is no single or definitive model of parenting. With authoritarian and permissive (indulgent) parenting on opposite sides of the spectrum, most conventional and modern models of parenting fall somewhere in between. Parenting strategies as well as behaviours and ideals of what parents expect, whether communicated verbally and/or non-verbally, also play a significant role in a child's development.
Parenting practicesA parenting practice is a specific behavior that a parent uses in raising a child.* For example, a common parent practice intended to promote academic success is reading books to the child.
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. In practice, this means that a child in an independent culture will happily play by herself, but a child in a communal culture is more likely to follow his mother's instruction to pick up his toys.*
Parenting skillsParenting styles are only a small piece of what it takes to be a "good parent". Parenting takes a lot of skill and patience and is constant work and growth. Research  shows that children benefit most when their parents:
Values parents promoteParents around the world want what they believe is best for their children. However, parents in different cultures have different ideas of what is best.* For example, parents in a hunter–gatherer society or surviving through subsistence agriculture are likely to promote practical survival skills from a young age. Many such cultures begin teaching babies to use sharp tools, including knives, before their first birthdays.* American parents strongly value intellectual ability, especially in a narrow "book learning" sense.* Italian parents value social and emotional abilities and having an even temperament.* Spanish parents want their children to be sociable.* Swedish parents value security and happiness.* Dutch parents value independence, long attention spans, and predictable schedules.* The Kipsigis people of Kenya value children who are not only smart, but who employ that intelligence in a responsible and helpful way, which they call ng/om.*Differences in values cause parents to interpret different actions in different ways.* Asking questions is seen by American parents as a sign that the child is smart. Italian parents, who value social and emotional competence, believe that asking questions is a sign that the child has good interpersonal skills. Dutch parents, who value independence, view asking questions negatively, as a sign that the child is not independent.*
Differences in values also cause parents to employ different tools to promote their values. Americans expect specially purchased educational toys to improve their children's intelligence.* Spanish parents promote social skills by taking their children out for daily walks around the neighborhood.*
Views on parental roles and responsibilities in the United States
MotherhoodThe ideology of "motherhood" portrays mothers as being the ultimate caregivers. They invest most, if not all, of their time on their children, which sometimes affects their job and role in the labor market. Although stay-at-home moms are less common, women are seen as spending more time with children than men. They are commonly the nurturers of the children and support emotional growth and stability.it is very important to support your child and provide happiness.
FatherhoodFathers now more than ever are spending more time with their children. Whereas in the past, fathers were the breadwinners and the mothers stayed at home to cook, clean and take care of children, the roles are starting to converge. Fathers are participating more in parenting roles and taking on responsibilities such as bathing, dressing, feeding, changing diapers and comforting children. In Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, Meg Meeker emphasizes the importance of fathers' roles in shaping who their daughters become. She claims "fathers, more than anyone else, set the course for a daughter's life."*
Shared earning/shared parenting marriageToday many men and women engage in Shared Earning/Shared Parenting Marriage where they do not follow archetypal or steretoyped "motherhood" and "fatherhood" roles and instead both earn money and both do the unpaid work of parenting and childcare. It is clear that advancements have been made over the past few decades transitioning to a desire for equality and flexible gender-roles with the traditional lifestyle being less favored.*
Parenting across the lifespan
Planning and pre-pregnancyFamily planning is the decision whether and when to become parents, including planning, preparing, and gathering resources. Parents should assess (amongst other matters) whether they have the required financial resources (the raising of a child costs around $16,198 yearly in the United States)* and should also assess whether their family situation is stable enough and whether they themselves are responsible and qualified enough to raise a child. Reproductive health and preconceptional care affect pregnancy, reproductive success and maternal and child physical and mental health.
Pregnancy and prenatal parentingDuring pregnancy the unborn child is affected by many decisions his or her parents make, particularly choices linked to their lifestyle (sociology)|lifestyle. The health and diet decisions of the mother can have either a positive or negative impact on the child during pregnancy|prenatal parenting. In addition to physical management of the pregnancy, medical knowledge of your physician, hospital, and birthing options are important. Here are some key items of advice:
Depending on how many children the mother carries also determines the amount of care needed during prenatal and post-natal periods.
Newborns and infantsNewborn parenting, is where the responsibilities of parenthood begins. A newborn's basic needs are food, sleep, comfort and cleaning which the parent provides. An infant's only form of communication is crying, and attentive parents will begin to recognize different types of crying which represent different needs such as hunger, discomfort, boredom, or loneliness. Newborns and young infants require feedings every few hours which is disruptive to adult Sleep cycle#Stages of sleep|sleep cycles. They respond enthusiastically to soft stroking, cuddling and caressing. Gentle rocking back and forth often calms a crying infant, as do massages and warm baths. Newborns may comfort themselves by sucking their thumb or a pacifier. The need to suckle is instinctive and allows newborns to feed. Breastfeeding is the recommended method of feeding by all major infant health organizations.* If breastfeeding is not possible or desired, bottle feeding is a common alternative. Other alternatives include feeding breastmilk or formula with a cup, spoon, feeding syringe, or nursing supplementer.
The forming of attachment in children|attachments is considered to be the foundation of the infant/child's capacity to form and conduct relationships throughout life. Attachment is not the same as love and/or affection although they often go together. Attachments develop immediately and a lack of attachment or a seriously disrupted capacity for attachment could potentially do serious damage to a child's health and well-being. Physically one may not see symptoms or indications of a disorder but emotionally the child may be affected. Studies show that children with secure attachment have the ability to form successful relationships, express themselves on an interpersonal basis and have higher self-esteem . Conversely children who have caregivers who are neglectful or emotionally unavailable can exhibit behavioral problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder or oppositional-defiant disorder *Oppositional-defiant disorder is a pattern of disobedient, hostile, and defiant behavior toward authority figures
ToddlersToddlers are much more active than infants and are challenged with learning how to do simple tasks by themselves. At this stage, parents are heavily involved in showing the child how to do things rather than just doing things for them, and the child will often mimic the parents. Toddlers need help to build their vocabulary, increase their communication skills, and manage their emotions. Toddlers will also begin to understand social etiquette such as being polite and taking turns.
Toddlers are very curious about the world around them and eager to explore it. They seek greater independence and responsibility and may become frustrated when things do not go the way they want or expect. Tantrums begin at this stage, which is sometimes referred to as the 'Terrible Twos'.* Tantrums are often caused by the child's frustration over the particular situation, sometimes simply not being able to communicate properly. Parents of toddlers are expected to help guide and teach the child, establish basic routines (such as washing hands before meals or brushing teeth before bed), and increase the child's responsibilities. It is also normal for toddlers to be frequently frustrated. It is an essential step to their development. They will learn through experience; trial and error. This means that they need to experience being frustrated when something does not work for them, in order to move on to the next stage. When the toddler is frustrated, they will often behave badly with actions like screaming, hitting or biting. Parents need to be careful when reacting to such behaviours, giving threats or punishments is not helpful and will only make the situation worse.*
ChildYounger children are becoming more independent and are beginning to build friendships. They are able to reason and can make their own decisions given hypothetical situations. Young children demand constant attention, but will learn how to deal with boredom and be able to play independently. They also enjoy helping and feeling useful and able. Parents may assist their child by encouraging social interactions and modelling proper social behaviors. A large part of learning in the early years comes from being involved in activities and household duties. Parents who observe their children in play or join with them in child-driven play have the opportunity to glimpse into their children's world, learn to communicate more effectively with their children and are given another setting to offer gentle, nurturing guidance.* Parents are also teaching their children health, hygiene, and eating habits through instruction and by example.
Parents are expected to make decisions about their child's education. Parenting styles in this area diverge greatly at this stage with some parents becoming heavily involved in arranging organized activities and early learning programs. Other parents choose to let the child develop with few organized activities.
Children begin to learn responsibility, and consequences of their actions, with parental assistance. Some parents provide a small allowance that increases with age to help teach children the value of money and how to be responsible with it.
Parents who are consistent and fair with their child discipline|discipline, who openly communicate and offer explanations to their children, and who do not neglect the needs of their children in some way often find they have fewer problems with their children as they mature.