What is the Difference between Parenting and Parenthood?

Being a parent is often described as the hardest, yet most rewarding, experience a person can have.  There are many ways that a person can become a parent: giving birth, adoption, third party reproduction, fostering, etc.  Becoming a parent is a huge transition, one that most people are not prepared for. 



So what’s the difference between parenting and parenthood?  Parenting involves rearing a child.  It includes the techniques, methods, and skills you use in raising your child.  Learning how to bath, feed, and soothe your baby are all part of parenting.  Providing direction and instilling family values are also parenting tasks once your child is older, along with teaching consequences, discipline, and responsibility. 



Parenthood is the state of being a parent.  It involves the role you are taking, as a mother or father and as a co-parent with your partner.  Parenthood entails changing identities, facing unrealistic expectations, taking care of yourself so that you can take care of others, and working together with your partner to navigate the journey of becoming a parent.  The concept focuses on relationships with your partner, family and friends, colleagues, the community, and most importantly yourself. 


Both parenting and parenthood are important ideas when growing your family.  So why is there so little preparation involved?  We spend our entire lives preparing for what we are embarking upon.  We take a class to learn to drive, complete study guides for the SATs, we get on-the-job training when entering employment, and go to premarital counseling.  While there’s a plethora of information available to prepare for pregnancy, birth, delivery, and parenting, information on self care after baby arrives is harder to come by.  And parenthood prep is even scarcer. 

You’ll find that there’s a gap between pregnancy and parenting. It’s called parenthood.
— Elly Taylor, Author of Becoming Us


92% of couples experience increased conflict within the first year of their babies life (Cowan and Cowan), and 67% experience a decline in relationship satisfaction (Gottman and Gottman) according to the research.  To me this indicates parents could be doing something differently to prepare themselves.  I will be diving into this issue in my next blog series: Us Plus One.  Stay tuned for more information about keeping your relationship alive in the midst of the transition to parenthood. 


I am a Marriage and Family Therapist in the Clear Lake area of Houston, Tx.  I specialize in couples therapy, infertility counseling, and the transition to parenthood.  I can help you navigate the waters of parenthood more effectively andenhance your relationship along the way.  Please call (832) 827-3288 for a free 20 minute phone consultation or to schedule an appointment

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