Abstract In this article I investigate family as an everyday life context and conflictual community. My starting point is an exploration of children's lives across their day care and home settings. Children's development is theorized in relation to their participation in and engagements with different communities across multiple contexts. I show that parenting is shaped by children's participation in these varied settings. I draw on an ethnographically inspired research project with six families living in a small town in Denmark. The analysis highlights how children's possibilities for participation are created across their different life contexts and it demonstrates that social interplay and conflicts among children in their day care institutions influence relations and interactions between parents and children at home. I argue that adequate theories of child development must take into account that children's developmental possibilities are shaped by the relations and connections among the contexts in which they live.