In chess, pawns can easily be used as a reinforcing defense, but they also make amazing bate and cannon-fodder. To master the pawn is to realize when it is appropriate to use a pawn as a defensive piece or as bait.
You should never protect a pawn (unless you are close to pawn promotion) with anything but a pawn or a knight unless it is critical to you winning the game.
Assume that I'm playing as white. My favorite opening is to move the pawn in front of my king FIRST from E2 to E4. This opens up one of my bishops and my queen.
Black then moves wherever (either a pawn or one of his/her knights. there are only 20 possible opening moves). Keep in mind you want to move the pawn in front of your queen next.
If black moves his knight to F8 or C6 (threatening my pawn or the position I want my next pawn in) I move the pawn at D2 to D3. This protects both my pawns from capture.
If they move any of their pawns to open, move your pawn from D2 to D4. This open up your other bishop.
Depending on the strategies you like, you would then either bring out your knights, bishops,or your queen. I (normally) move the pawns at C2 and F2 up to C3 and F3 because of the defense it creates for your pawns and other pieces. A person who uses their knight a lot would not do this.
Also, I would not recommend to beginning players that you move your queen within the first ten moves. She can easily get lost on a crowded chessboard and makes a good target for your opponent to focus on.
Your chess opening should focus on a strategy you know well and have perfected. You should know withing the first two minutes of the game your first five moves (unless, of course, something unexpected happens. And in a game like chess, that is often).
Your opening moves should be beneficial to YOUR playing style and yours alone. My advice, never ever move a piece without having at least ONE good reason. Good luck, and may you have many good games in the future.
P.S. Chess questions? Contact me at email@example.com