Being an Active Parent Can Look Differently for Each Family

We’ve been looking at different ways to reflect on our parenting over our last few posts, and today it continues with a look at active parenting, which the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development defines as “participating in your child’s life.”

Boy wearing a chef's hat measures flour while baking with his father in the kitchen.

This one is pretty broad, right? Just participating… that seems simple. And yet, how each of us might define participation looks so different! Some parents may say you are an active parent if you see your child every day. Others might say it’s being available for big moments like ball games and concerts. Some might say it’s more about being present for the little moments like dinner time and bed time.

Some of these definitions may leave out certain parents – like parents who work a night shift, so they may not be there for evening meal and bedtime, or parents who live separately and may not see their child every day. Does this mean those parents cannot be active in their child’s life? The answer – NO.

Every family is different. We each have kids with unique temperaments, our family structures may vary, and our schedules may look different. I think that’s part of the beauty of this broad definition of active parenting: participation can look differently for each parent and each family!

It ultimately comes down to the experience of your specific child. Does your child feel like you are available to them? Do they know that you want to be a part of their life? Do you have a plan for maintaining ongoing contact with them?

For some parents, this aspect of being an active parent may feel very obvious, while others have to give more thought and creativity to ensuring their participation in their children’s lives. Whichever spot you may fall into, know that your efforts to be active and available to your child are worthwhile and are an important aspect of developing your relationship! Keep up the good work!

Come back in our next post to explore the concept of being an attentive parent!

Source: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development,

Mackenzie Johnson

Parent to a little one with her own quirks. Celebrator of the concept of raising kids “from scratch”. Learner and lover of the parent-child relationship. Translator of research with a dose of reality. Certified Family Life Educator.

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