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5 Characteristics of A Good Parent

Quality is a term used to describe the characteristics or attributes that make something desirable or valuable.

It is subjective, as what one person considers high quality may differ from another person’s perception.

Similarly, being a “good parent” is subjective, as each person’s definition of goodness differs.

In addition, while the authoritative parenting style is often considered the best parenting style based on research by developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind, various degrees of authoritativeness and practices are required to match different environments.

Because of all these subjective variables, there is no one formula for good parenting nor a checklist on how to be a good parent.

good father carrying daughter his back with arms spread

The One Thing Every Good Parent Does

Despite the different perspectives, judgments, and environments, there is one common factor in all good parents.

Good parents make decisions in the child’s best interest.

A good parent makes decisions based on their own circumstances and resources to benefit the child’s long-term needs.

Qualities Of A Good Parent

Knowing whether you are acting in your child’s best interest can be difficult.

Everyone has different circumstances, resources, and constraints that impact their parenting decisions.

However, some good parenting traits can facilitate this.

Unconditional Love

It goes without saying that good parents love their children.

But it goes beyond just showing affection or warmth and celebrating happy times.

Unconditional love means accepting and loving a child for who they are, flaws and all.

The parent will be there for them during their toughest times and support them in their endeavors, even if they may not always have success in life.

However, unconditional love is not always easy to provide.

It requires patience, understanding, and a willingness to put aside one’s own needs and desires to prioritize the child’s needs.

This involves accepting a child’s imperfections, mistakes, and bad choices but loving them regardless instead of being harsh or punitive.

A perfect child does not exist.

Parents’ unconditional love can help their children become confident, resilient, and emotionally healthy adults.


Self-reflection is one of the most important parenting qualities.

It is the ability to be self-aware and examine one’s own thoughts, feelings, and decisions honestly​1​.

When a parent genuinely wants to do the best for their child, self-reflection can help them make better decisions in their specific circumstances, catch mistakes faster, and course-correct more effectively.

It also allows parents to learn from their experiences and continually improve their parenting skills.

Being a good parent is not about being perfect or never making mistakes.

It is about recognizing mistakes and taking steps to prevent them from happening again.

In other words, good parents are not necessarily those who do everything right but are willing to learn from their mistakes and make changes for the better.

Therefore, monitoring and reflecting on different aspects of parenting is crucial.

This involves regularly assessing your actions, thoughts, and feelings to ensure you act in your child’s best interest. 

Reflective parents examine their roles in problems when they arise and don’t just blame the child for everything.

Doing so allows you to adjust your approach to meet your child’s evolving needs.

It can also help those who grew up in a less-than-perfect family environment become more aware of their childhood experiences’ impact on their parenting. 

They can choose a better course of action to break the trauma cycle.

Self-reflective parents are more likely to be aware of their child’s thoughts and feelings​2​.

They are more empathetic towards their child’s needs and concerns, which can positively impact the child’s development. 

Overall, being a self-reflective parent is an essential quality of good parenting.

It helps parents make better decisions, learn from their experiences, and create a safe and nurturing environment for their child’s growth and development.

Psychological Flexibility

Psychological flexibility is adapting and responding effectively to challenging emotional experiences.

It involves accepting and tolerating aversive emotional experiences while continuing to engage in behaviors that are in line with one’s personal values​3​.

A flexible parent can shift perspective, balance competing needs, and modify behavior to achieve a valued goal.

For example, when a child exhibits defiant behavior, a psychologically flexible parent can take a step back and view the situation from the child’s perspective.

They might realize that the child is tired from soccer practice and needs a snack and rest before discussing the issue. 

Despite the parent’s need to address the bad behavior, they prioritize the child’s well-being and take steps to address their needs first.

In contrast, an inflexible parent cannot tolerate negative interactions.

They may only see things from their own perspective and become offended by the child’s behavior.

They might insist that the child immediately stop and apologize for their actions, escalating the situation further. 

This lack of flexibility and empathy can exacerbate the child’s exhaustion, hunger, and agitation, leading to a breakdown in communication and understanding between parent and child.

Parental psychological flexibility is closely related to a child’s mental health and fewer internalizing issues and externalizing behaviors​4​.

Mentally flexible parents can consider their child’s perspective, prioritize their needs, and act in their best interest even during difficult times.

A Balanced Mindset

Being a good parent is a delicate balancing act that requires careful consideration of various factors to promote a child’s healthy development.

It is not about being a perfect parent but finding a middle ground considering the child’s needs and circumstances.

The key to effective parenting is letting go of extreme mindsets. 

For example, strict parents with high expectations for behavior and believe their children must obey their commands may be overly strict and create unnecessary power struggles​5​.

They are inflexible and never listen to the child. 

On the other extreme, permissive parents who let their children do whatever they want may be too lenient, leading to a lack of structure and boundaries essential for a child’s development​6​.

Either extreme does not serve the child’s best interests.

Effective parents weigh various factors in a balanced approach to find a balance that fits their child’s age, temperament, and unique needs.

They set clear family rules together, use a consistent parenting style, and allow autonomy and adjustment as the child grows.

Final Thoughts On Qualities Of A Good Parent

The parenting journey is complex and challenging. It requires a personalized and adaptable approach. 

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to parenting.

Good parents engage in regular introspection and self-reflection and are willing to make adjustments as needed to meet the needs of their children.

They have unconditional love for their child and a balanced mindset to create a supportive environment that keeps them safe, thriving, and reaching their full potential.


  1. 1.
    Slade A. Parental reflective functioning: An introduction. Attachment & Human Development. Published online September 2005:269-281. doi:10.1080/14616730500245906
  2. 2.
    Zimmer-Gembeck MJ, Kerin JL, Webb HJ, et al. Improved Perceptions of Emotion Regulation and Reflective Functioning in Parents: Two Additional Positive Outcomes of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy. Behavior Therapy. Published online March 2019:340-352. doi:10.1016/j.beth.2018.07.002
  3. 3.
    Hayes SC, Luoma JB, Bond FW, Masuda A, Lillis J. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: Model, processes and outcomes. Behaviour Research and Therapy. Published online January 2006:1-25. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2005.06.006
  4. 4.
    Cheron DM, Ehrenreich JT, Pincus DB. Assessment of Parental Experiential Avoidance in a Clinical Sample of Children with Anxiety Disorders. Child Psychiatry Hum Dev. Published online March 12, 2009:383-403. doi:10.1007/s10578-009-0135-z
  5. 5.
    Buss DM. Predicting parent–child interactions from children’s activity level. Developmental Psychology. Published online January 1981:59-65. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.17.1.59
  6. 6.
    Baumrind D. Patterns of parental authority and adolescent autonomy. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development. Published online 2005:61-69. doi:10.1002/cd.128


    * All information on is for educational purposes only. Parenting For Brain does not provide medical advice. If you suspect medical problems or need professional advice, please consult a physician. *