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Why Good Parenting is Not Always the Best

By NEYT, 10/23/21, 3:45AM EDT


Good parenting is praised, but good parenting is not always the best. When we are good at parenting, we tend to settle into the status quo, and in doing so, we miss out on what is best.

Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase, “Good is the enemy of great.” This is applicable in youth sports because it’s easy for athletes to settle for what is good and not for what is best. This is a philosophy that parents often try to instill into their children in hopes that their kids will not settle for what is just good–easy, convenient, stable, status-quo–but that they would accept challenges, take risks, and work hard to become better than just good, but to be great, or the best.

Sports parents want their children to reach their full potential, to feel passion and experience deep fulfillment in their sports. So, they encourage them to not just “settle”, but to go after the very best.

But those same parents may be settling for good in their parenting instead of going for best and in doing so, they will never really know what they’ve missed out on.

Are you settling for good parenting or going for best?

First, let me make it clear that best parenting does not mean perfection. It does not mean that a parent is super mom or dad. What exactly is the difference between good parenting and best parenting?

Good parenting means providing for your kids’ physical needs. Best parenting means providing for their physical and emotional needs.

Good parenting is supporting your child as they play sports or take music lessons, best parenting means supporting your child AND at the same time, letting them fight their own battles and learn from their mistakes.

Good parents step in to fix things for their children because they love them and want them to be happy, but in the long run, this is not what’s best for them. Best parents know that if a child is going to grow into a strong, responsible adult, they must find their own way.

Good parents set boundaries and family rules and leave it at that. Best parents have conversations about core values, the why behind the what of boundaries and rules.

Good parenting means mom and dad are consistent in their discipline. Best parenting means that mom and dad know that there is a time to be consistent–when it relates to core values–and there is a time to be flexible about things that are not so important. This is also known as choosing your battles.

Good parents only look for ways to punish their child’s misbehavior; best parents look deeper than that and aim to parent their child’s heart.

Grounding, time-outs, and other parenting punishments may produce short-term change, but for long-term impact, parents must get to their child’s heart. This is all part of teaching them core values that they will carry with them for life. It doesn’t mean you do away with groundings and time-outs, it simply means that they are accompanied by a clarifying and heartfelt conversation.

Good parents may settle for what is convenient in their parenting because they are tired or desperate; best parents understand that parenting is hard work and what’s best for their child, in the long run, may not be the easiest option.

One more thing about Best Parenting…

Sometimes good gets in the way of best because good is where we stop when we could be going for best. The greatest challenge in the life of a parent is not avoiding big mistakes like child abuse or neglect; it is making good choices that are not quite good enough.

Don’t let good enough be your parenting guide; instead, let best parenting push you to try new things and challenge your own status quo as you look for ways to help your children become the best that they can be.

Janis Meredith is a family life coach who wants to help parents raise champions. You can find out more at