Your Parenting Role Changes: Here’s How and When

As our children grow and develop, so does our job as parent.

Mother and toddler looking at merry go round spinning b&w
Photo Thomas Leuthard|CC

As children grow and develop, so does your job as ‘parent’.

Rather than a rigid view of parenting, parents can modify their expectations, adapting to the changing needs of their growing children. While parents spend less time with children as they get older, the parenting job becomes more complicated.

Parenting Roles

Parents as Family Managers

Parents begin as family managers, often struggling to balance the needs of the baby, their partner, other siblings and lastly their own needs. Parents must rely on their organizational skills to juggle the logistical and financial needs of their new family.

Parents as Nurturers

In the early stages with young children parents are nurturers, providing affection, love and encouragement to their children. Parents are caregivers, making sure children are fed, safe and well taken care of, and providing them with comfort and emotional support they need.

Parents as Limit Setters

Your parenting role will change as she grows.
Your parenting role will change as she grows.

When babies begin to crawl, parents suddenly have the important but challenging job of setting boundaries with their little ones. Now they can reach for electrical cords, grab toys from other babies, refuse to eat certain things, and try many other novel behaviors. For toddlers, the world is far more complicated than they understand. They need to have reasonable expectations with simple, yet consistent limits. As children become able to understand more and are developmentally ready, we can give them the reasons for the necessity of the limits and boundaries.

Parents as Life Teacher

Toddlers demand independence which necessitates yet another switch in the parenting roles. We all have the tendency to over-protect our children, yet their need for independence forces us to strike a balance between protection and support, thus changing our role yet again to that of “life teacher”, becoming a teaching parent who instills both social skills and world knowledge to our child.

As a nurturer, a parent may respond to a frustrated baby with, “Come here and I’ll hold you.” As a life teacher, a parent may respond to a toddler asserting his autonomy with, “I know it’s frustrating, you can do it!”

As your job of parenting evolves, you’ll become more attune to when your role is to manage, to nurture, to set clear limits, or to teach. The goal is to change your behavior to be whom your child needs during the different phases of their live.