Learning to Parent


Most things in life don’t come with a formal education—you simply have to learn as you go. Parenting is one of those all-important duties that doesn’t come with a manual. Parents play a very important role in the growth and development of a child. The use of parenting books and training workshops is now a growing movement, but before, these materials were not available. All the expert information that is available on parenting over the internet did not exist until recently. People have always learned what to do and figured out how to go about new responsibilities, and parenting is no exception. There are a range of past and present methods that have given new and old parents the parenting skills they need.

Instinctive or Learned Behavior

Scientists have studied the parenting behavior of many different animal species to find out what it involves and what drives it. Much of human and animal behavior can be classified according to two broad categories. These are instinctive behavior and learned behavior. Instinctive behaviors are those hard-wired things that we do because of our genetics and natural make-up. Learned behaviors are things that we do from external influences such as other people, culture, school, and societal norms.

There’s a big ongoing discussion about how much of human parenting is instinctive or learned. The changes that happen in a new mother, for example, happen naturally. The motherly instinct comes on its own making the woman more protective and nurturing than ever before. Parenting is by no means easy, and some people find parts of it more natural and intuitive than others. Just as people have different personality types and giftings, so some might have more natural tendencies towards parenting. That being said, many skills related to parenting can be learned.

Places to Learn Parenting

According to experts, there are at least four different places where people learn parenting skills. This can happen automatically or through conscious effort. The first place where we observe and learn parenting skills is from our own parents. Whether good or bad, present or absent, parents have a tremendous impact on a child’s development and early view of life. As a child grows, they then get exposed to other influences and views of life. They may need to make different choices and unlearn certain behaviors as they see fit.

The second place where people learn parenting skills is through observing other people. Whether we realize it or not, all the people we associate with and spend time with teach and show us something new. We can subconsciously pick up new skills about how to be better parents or even what to avoid from interactions with our neighbors, friends, relatives, and coworkers.

The wealth of information available to us has been touched on already. Parenting advice and guides can be free or paid, but it is easily accessible through books, media, experts, and seminars. If there is any question about how to handle a situation or the psychology of an infant or adolescent, the answer is available not too far away. The fourth place where parents learn to parent is through their own experiences on the job. This includes what they learn from their children.

Parents play an important role in how a child grows up from infancy right through to maturity. While experts study the ins and outs of the science and psychology of parenting, for most parents, it is an important role they naturally assume as they move into a new phase of life. There’s no such thing as the perfect parent. Every parent has their ups and downs, but it is the relationship they build with their kids that counts. There are always lessons to learn and ideas to revisit.

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