The experience of parenthood is examined from a life-span developmental perspective, and within this framework, normative parenting is contrasted with nonnormative parenting. Our nonnormative example pertains to parenting a child with mental retardation. We emphasize that both normative and nonnormative parenthood are lifelong commitments, with shifting roles, responsibilities, and relationships that emerge as parents and children age. Our focus is on the consequences of these changing experiences for the well-being of parents themselves, and on how such consequences vary depending on whether parenthood is experienced in the typical or atypical case. We argue that, in both cases, there is need to establish the life-course connections across the early, middle, and later years of parenthood. The lack of theoretical and empirical inquiry during the middle years is given particular emphasis. We also discuss the 2need to consider individual differences in the parental experience, changing patterns of reciprocity in parent–child relationships, and historical and/or cohort influences on the experience of parenthood.