With so many single-parent homes in today's society, it is often up to one parent to fulfil the roles of both mother and father. But in the case where both parents are present, each parent typically takes on particular responsibilities that are crucial to a child's development. Although each family is different, many parents in various cultures share similar duties when it comes to parenting.
Providing for the Family
One of the roles that fathers usually fill is being the provider for the family by earning income. If the mother doesn't work, it is left up to the father to be the sole provider so that the family has the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. However, as the provider and with the income he makes, the father will also set aside money for things such as the child's education, health care and insurance.
Protection and Discipline
Most fathers will also serve as the protector of the family by making sure the household is safe. In the event that an intruder enters the house, the father is prepared to protect the family. Another role that is often left to the father is to be the disciplinarian. Many mothers will say such things as, "Wait until your father gets home," implying that he will be the one to take disciplinary action toward the child if the child misbehaves. Although many mothers and fathers share this role, it is often one the father will fill.
Running the Household
One of the roles of the mother is running the household. This usually includes cooking meals for the family, doing laundry, cleaning and making sure the children have what they need each day. Mothers will often do the grocery shopping, pay the household bills and drive children to various activities or social gatherings while the father is at work. Helping children with homework is another duty that mothers will often do, but fathers will sometimes share this responsibility as well, depending on the situation.
The role most associated with the mother is the one of being the nurturer. This means taking care of a child's emotional well-being and teaching him the differences between right and wrong. Mothers often give affection and guidance, and observe the moods and behaviour of their children so that, if a problem arises, the mother can address it and help to resolve the problem. Although fathers can be nurturing and provide guidance to their children, mothers typically spend more time with the children, enabling them to identify the changes as the children grow and give them the necessary love and guidance they need. In many families, the roles of mother and father have become interchangeable, and as long as the child is healthy and happy, either parent can fill the role necessary for the child's development.