The term ‘parenthood’ denotes the status and experience of being a parent. For scholars of childhood studies, parenthood is of interest because parents are integral to children’s lives and, in the same way, that childhood can be understood to be ‘socially constructed’, so too does the meaning and experience of being a parent change over time and place. This entry explores three layers of meaning ascribed to parenthood: (1) biological, (2) legal, and (3) social/cultural.

Biological Parenthood

Parenthood can be defined in a number of ways. In biological terms, the providers of the gametes which produce a child are typically described as that child’s parents. This is how an animal’s parentage would be defined. In many societies, in particular those in which property or status is inherited ...

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