'Parenting' has been described as the process of giving a diverse range of care by adults to young children (though not only to them). The 'job description' of a parent would be somewhat paradoxical: total committedness, knowledge of health-care, nutrition, psychology, household management, the education system, of stress management, ability to set boundaries, self-esteem; no salary, but rewarding'. 'Parent education' would be all measures to enable all prospective and actual parents, at all stages of the life-span, to understand their needs and those of their children. It would enhance relationships in families, create a supportive network of communication and raise parents' self-confidence.
There is much variation in the provision of parent education. There is a general feeling that children's development should not be left to parents alone. Some of the activities are heavily health-focused and usually start during pregnancy, aiming at the physical care of baby and mother rather than on how to proceed as parents of a child growing up. On the other hand, life stage parent education is a diffuse and patchy kind of concept with a broad range of professionals and others who facilitate formal and informal programmes. It covers all sorts of support and help available to parents, and parents working with each other, helping one another. Some schemes are educative in the formal sense of imparting knowledge through course material, others are about helping parents to feel confident about their capacities as parents.
NGOs tend to provide a good deal of available parent education. Public authorities usually neither provide a coherent programme of support and education for all parents, nor even information about schemes of support and courses. The State gets involved only when things really go wrong and children are identified as being at risk in the care of their parents, or parents are failing or highly vulnerable. At this point, parent education and support can have stigmatizing overtones.
In some culture it is easier to find out how to revive a garden plant in difficulty than it is to find reliable accessible information and advice about parenting.