Parents: Meaning, Roles, Responsibilities and Duties of Parents

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Parents: Meaning, Roles, Responsibilities and Duties of Parents

Introduction: All of us have parents. And many of us are, or want to be, parents in the future. That means that parenthood is very important for all of our lives. This article is all about parenthood: what parents are, and what their roles, responsibilities and duties are.

Meaning of parents.

The word parents comes from the Latin verb ‘parere’, which means ‘to bring forth’, or ‘to give birth to’. From this verb, we get the Latin noun parent- which means much the same as the modern word parent.

So, a parent is someone who brings forth something else. Of course, we can use this word in a figurative sense. In a way, a writer ‘brings forth’ their book, or an artist ‘brings forth’ their paintings. But, in this article we will deal with parents in the literal sense: human beings who bring forth children.

In this way, we can define a parent as:

  • A human being who has brought forth a child.
  • A human being who parents (cares for) a child, whether or not that child is biologically theirs (for instance as is the case with adopted children).
  • Someone who adopts the role of a parent (this will be described later in the article).
  • Someone who fulfils the duties of a parent (again, this will be described later in the article).

We can also talk of:

  • Prospective parents: people who want to be, or are getting ready to be, parents.

The role of parents.

1. Care givers: parents give their children the love and care that they need to grow up happy and healthy, and full of love themselves.

2. Material providers: parents provide all of the material things that a child needs, including food and shelter.

3. Educators: part of a parent’s role involves educating their children about everything from doing up coat buttons to learning the alphabet.

4. Moral guides: parents ought to provide moral guidance as early as possible, so that their children grow up into upright citizens.

5. Providers of emotional support: sympathy, empathy and kindness ought to be abundant in everything that parents do. There is no point in providing material things for a child if this is not accompanied with love and kindness, and a willingness to listen to and help with any problems that the child may have.

The responsibilities of parents.

1. Their children’s health: it is down to the parents to ensure that their children are healthy and well nourished.

2. Basic education: before children start school, it is their parents who are responsible for their education. Once they are at school, parents still are responsible for ensuring that their children attend classes and do their homework.

3. Moral examples: parents should not just tell their children what is right and what is wrong. They should also be a good example to their children of what is right and wrong.

4. Material necessities: parents are responsible for ensuring that their children have enough to eat and drink, that they stay nice and warm in winter and are protected from the sun in summer. They do not need to spoil their children, but they should ensure that they have a safe place to live and sleep and clothes to wear as well as toys to play with and books to read.

5. Love: love is not just an emotion – it can also be argued that it is a parent’s responsibility to show love and individual affection to their children at all times. Parental love is something that comes naturally – parents just need to make sure that they express this love so that their children can see it clearly.

The duties of parents.

1. Choosing a name: parents are almost always the ones who choose their child’s name, though a child may choose to go by a nick name or to change their name once they become an adult.

2. Protection: a key parental duty is protecting their child from things that could harm them physically and emotionally. Of course, that does not mean that a parent should lie to their child about the world, or wrap them in cotton wool. However, they need to keep their child safe from danger – and to teach their child how to keep themselves safe as well.

3. Discipline: children can be disciplined without the need for angry words or physical violence. One of the key parental duties is disciplining a child so that they can practice self discipline later in life.

4. Financial support: the duty of ensuring that a child is supported financially so that they have all of their material needs met is very often a legal requirement of parents.

5. Wellbeing: parents’ duties extend to caring for children both physically and emotionally. That means taking them to the doctor and getting their vaccinations, promoting positive mental health and attending to any cuts and bruises with first aid – among other duties.


As you can see, there are many rights, duties and responsibilities that are associated with being a parent. These actions tend to spring spontaneously from parental love, however many of them are also enshrined in a country’s law. This is done to safeguard children and to ensure that they all get the best start in life. If parents adhere to all of the points listed above in this article, then there is no denying that their child will be able to enjoy a happy, healthy childhood. This is so important if a child is to grow up into a happy, well educated adult who is able to form strong friendships and relationships.

It does not matter if a parent is rich or poor, if they are a single or married parent, or if they are old or young. All parents should fulfil their roles, duties and responsibilities towards their children. And, if for any reason they cannot fulfil all of their duties – for example, if they need financial support to meet their child’s material needs – then a parent ought to seek the support of others. A child’s welfare is so important! But, parents should also take care of themselves, and seek help if the business of parenthood is proving emotionally, financially or physically stressful for them.


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