Is it a parent’s duty to do the best for their children?

I don’t really know what “good enough” parenting is.  Maybe it is a British thing, but apparently it is something of enough concern to the UK that the government funded some research which concluded that better parenting leads to better adjusted children.

‘The notion of “good enough” parenting may seem ideal in today’s hectic world, yet the reality is that “good enough” parents will most likely produce “good enough” children at best.  MailOnline

There really are no startling revelations in this study, at least as it was reported.  Except maybe that you can get government money for this kind of thing, but that is hardly a surprise, either.  One little part caught my attention, however.

The Good Childhood Inquiry recently claimed a culture of ‘excessive individualism’ among adults was to blame for many of children’s problems.

It said 30 per cent of adults in the UK disagreed with the statement that ‘parents’ duty is to do their best for their children even at the expense of their own well-being’.  (Ibid. emphasis mine)

Thirty percent?  Forgive me, but if you are not ready for making some sacrifices for the well-being of your children, you are not ready for the responsibility associated with caring for another human being who will be wholly dependent on you.  I’m sorry, but if you want to get a dog, you need to be ready to make some sacrifices or you should get a stuffed one.

Here, I’ve only heard the discussion framed in terms of how much is too much.  Like, at what point have you sacrificed so much for the well-being of your children that you are actually doing them harm?  An instructor I had in college, for example, argued that while staying at home with children is a good and noble thing, a mother doing so who was unhappy in this role would do her and her children a favor to put them in daycare and get a job.

Are we really that distant from our own children that almost one third don’t seem to agree that we should put the best interests of our children before our own?  And if true, what does that say for our future?

Hat Tip: Are We There Yet?

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10 Comments on "Is it a parent’s duty to do the best for their children?"

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Are you sure that those numbers are not a little low?


Mom Blogs – Blogs for Moms…


Perhaps they are referring to overindulgent parents who protect them from any unhappiness, buy them toys at the expense of saving for retirement, who let them live at home until they are 40…

Yes, we must sacrifice for our small children, otherwise they wouldn’t survive, but what are their parameters of “sacrifice”?

This issue of good enough versus best or too much sacrifice wound up being a major theme in “The Over-Scheduled Child” formerly published under the title “Hyper Parenting” by Robert Coles MD and Nicole Wise. They say good enough is what we should do and no more. I also read in WSJ of multiple books on the topic of US Presidents and how they had big adversity in their childhoods, far from perfect families, dysfunctional actually. The discussion was their adversity caused them to develop character traits that allowed them to become the great men that they did. This brought… Read more »
JJ Ross
It sounds more like “enlightened self-interest” to me, that these parents may mean. Not the same as selfishness, the idea is that in a healthy relationship, by definition, no one’s “well-being” is sacrificed. Unschoolers like me for example, live by this principle, that when you do everything to love and respect your children while demanding nothing for yourself and not magining it’s some great sacrifice, they lear to respond and treat you the same way, with similar joy! Adults whatever their personal philosophy and even when their software was corrupted as children themselves, are still hardwired to “do for” helpless… Read more »
I agree that we don’t know exactly what the people thought they were answering, but at the same time, reading into it our own interpretation may or may not be accurate. I would need to know more about what this whole “good enough” parenting is supposed to be. If it is what Christine is talking about, I think “good enough” is most certainly not what we should be striving for. A lot of us, even non-unschoolers like me, don’t view what we do as “sacrifice.” But I do believe we try to do the best by our children and provide… Read more »
Reminds me of two things. First, a dog I knew who gave birth to a litter but had to be held down to nurse and care of them. She simply did not have the maternal instinct even though she had the biology to conceive and carry and birth her litter. Second, a wonderful book called The Blessing of a Skinned Knee that embraces the idea of “good enough” parenting. However, the author’s idea of “good enough” was not anything like what is being suggested here. In fact, it was more along the lines of easing up on our children in… Read more »
JJ Ross

Is that what you’re picturing, muggers or hostage takers and someone is gonna die, should it be mom or the baby? I was thinking more of not saving for retirement or having health care, so that a child could have private school tuition and maybe a dye job, a nose job or a trip to Paris?

No, not really. I was more picturing my thoughts of “good enough.” Where we mostly pursue our own interests and kind of look out for these little people running around. When it’s convenient. I’m not interpreting the best interests of the child as private school tuition the parent cannot afford, but more the loving and consistent home life the article otherwise praised according to the other study it was primarily dealing with. In fact, I would think that not in the best interests of the child and term it more indulgent parenting if you truly are putting your family’s future… Read more »
Dana Hanley
More concrete example: I don’t know that my well-being is furthered much by late nights with frequent interruptions which come with a new baby. The stress level increases with a house that isn’t exactly clean, because there are some things I can’t do while holding him and his schedule is erratic. And mostly I use his naps to play with the older children. I’m not about to let him cry it out, though I suppose so long as he’s in a safe place, that would be “good enough.” Or in the case of the whole baby-wise thing even better. Their… Read more »