Being a parent is not about a set of rules to follow to produce a happy, well-adjusted young person. If it were, in some ways, it would be a lot easier. In others, it would be far less interesting.

Whoever the parent is (including the state as corporate parent), families are essentially about relationships and how people relate both within their families and from them to the wider world. At its best, parenting is about love, kindness and caring. For many parents, particularly those in difficult circumstances, this is not easy to achieve and they may need extra help.

This section looks at what it means to be a parent; being a father; how differing family backgrounds affect people; and how different countries help families.

Strong, loving families are essential to ensure that all Scotland's children get the best start in life.

Parenting across Scotland/Ipsos MORI, 2010