Good Enough Parenting?

  • Stefan RamaekersEmail author
  • Judith Suissa
Part of the Contemporary Philosophies and Theories in Education book series (COPT, volume 4)


In this chapter, we explore the implication, in contemporary policy and popular literature, that parents are expected not just to do a good enough job but to do the best job in bringing up their children. We revisit Donald Winnicott and Bruno Bettelheim’s notion of ‘the good enough parent’ and discuss the important ways in which this notion is both similar to and different from current normative accounts of parenting. We look at work on parenting styles and at first-person accounts of parents in order to bring out the important distinction between ‘closure’ and ‘open-endedness’ and the associated ethical aspects of parenting that are obscured by current accounts of good (enough) parenting. We also look at contemporary critics such as Frank Furedi and Jennie Bristow who, in rejecting the attempts by governments and experts to impose prescriptive accounts of good parenting and the associated cultural aspiration to control all aspects of our lives, suggest that people’s parenting will be ‘good enough’ if we just leave them to ‘muddle on’. We address the ways in which these critics overlook the important philosophical, pedagogical and ethical aspects of the parent–child relationship, specifically concerning the important difference between informed moral judgements about how parents treat their children and fully specified notions of ‘good enough parenting’.


Parental Behaviour Parenting Style Good Parenting Authoritative Parent Permissive Parenting 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences Laboratory for Education and SocietyKatholieke Universiteit LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  2. 2.Faculty of Policy and Society Institute of EducationUniversity of LondonLondonUK

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