Community parenting can be broadly defined as any situation in which a child has caregivers in addition to his or her biological or adoptive parents. These caregivers may be family members like grandparents, aunts and uncles, or older brothers and sisters. They may also be close family friends, or other parents in the community who help each other with their children.
Non-traditional families, that is, families that do not consist of only a biological mother and father and their children, are becoming increasingly common throughout the world. There are many single parents, blended families, adopted children, and other non-traditional family situations. Parenting is a full-time responsibility, and not everyone can do it on their own. Community parenting, in which more than two caregivers take responsibility for a child, can help provide a child with additional support growing up, and can create strong bonds between adults.
In one form of community parenting, parents and children may spend time together as a group, while each parent takes his or her turn watching the children as they play. Community parenting of this sort requires great trust between the parents, but it helps form a strong community bond between both the parents and the children. Parents benefit from such situations because the community offers extra safety and support for their child.
While community parenting offers many significant benefits to the child, the family, and the community as a whole, it can also be controversial. It is important for parents, and others designated as primary caregivers for a child, to take responsibility for his or her upbringing. While the entire community can be involved in raising a child, one should not leave his or her child's welfare completely up to others, especially when they have their own children to care for. Community parenting can therefore be a delicate balance, with parents and other adults helping each other, but taking care to carry their fair share of responsibilities.
Community parenting is also controversial as far as the status of non-parental caregivers goes. A person can take on great responsibility in a child's upbringing, acting as a parent for all intents and purposes, but may not have any legal rights regarding the child. If something happens to the child's legally recognized primary caregiver, a person who has been helping out with parenting responsibilities will not necessarily be able to gain custody over the child without a lengthy legal battle, or at all.