September 20, 2011

Parenting is a relatively new word about a very old topic—raising children. Parenting can be done by one or both biological parents, by adoptive parents, or by any other person who informally takes the place of a parent. The goal of parenting is to raise children to be happy, healthy adults who can think for themselves and make good choices in their lives. Good parenting requires self-control, consistency, and persistence. Most parents find that parenting is the most difficult and most rewarding job they ever do. A full description of effective parenting is beyond the scope of this book but many helpful guides are available at any library or bookstore.

Custody is a part of parenting that refers to the legal responsibility for a child. When parents separate from each other or divorce, or when parents live separately from their child, a judge usually decides who will have custody of the child. Judges who make decisions about custody often look closely at parenting issues. A judge will consider whom the child turns to when the child has problems and how the parent makes decisions about the child.

Parenting can also play a role in determination of parental fitness or termination of parental rights. Courts often become involved in families where there is abuse or neglect of a child. If the situation cannot be made safe for the child, the state takes custody of the child at least temporarily. If the parents cannot or will not work toward creating a healthy environment for their child, then the state could ultimately end the parents’ legal connections with the child and allow the child to be adopted.

SEE ALSO: Adoption, Child care, Cohabitation, Day care, Divorce, Domestic partnership, Marital status

Suggested Reading

  • Brazelton, T. B., & Greenspan, S. (2000). The irreducible needs of children: What every child must have to grow, learn, and flourish. Cambridge, MA: Perseus.
  • Lyster, M. (1996). Building parenting agreements that work. Berkeley, CA: Nolo Press.
  • Peters, D., & Strom, R. (1997). Divorce and child custody: Your options and legal rights. Philadelphia: Chelsea House.
  • Watnik, W. (1997). Child custody made simple. Claremont, CA: Single Parent Press.


Category: P