Though parents come in all different shapes and sizes, and with as many different styles of parenting, I believe the job can be boiled down into a near- universal mission statement, applicable to parents of all cultures and even species. Here it is:
Our mission is to raise children who grow up to be thriving adults by:
1) caring for them physically and emotionally until they are old enough to care for themselves, and…
2) teaching them the skills and values we believe they’ll need as adults.
Of course, how this is done and what it will look like will vary immensely. A mother octopus has a different way of doing these things than a mother duck or a mother gorilla or a mother architect/PTA-member. Even among humans alone, parenting varies drastically across cultures and communities and families. (A great film that illustrates this is the 2010 documentary, Babies.) But the mission itself is always the same. We want to, basically, help our children reach adulthood in one piece and with whatever preparation they’ll need to have the best chances at a good life, however we define that to be.
Looking at the mission above, Part 1 can be thought of us the “present” part of the mission and Part 2 as the “future” part. Everything we want for our children falls into the present category and/or the future category. And all our parenting decisions reflect at least one of these parts of the mission. Ideally, every decision we make in parenting takes both parts of the mission into consideration.
Whatever our background, beliefs or species, we share a common mission when it comes to raising our children. We won’t always agree on parenting issues. But maybe if we use this mission as a premise when we consider them, we’ll have at least started down the same path.