My Kid’s Behavior Is Not a Good Barometer of My Parenting

‘Good’ behavior isn’t always the result of good parenting; ‘bad’ behavior doesn’t indicate bad parenting

Courtney Christine Woods, LSW
Published in
5 min readAug 9, 2019


Credit: BSIP/Getty Images

Sometimes when I pick my kids up after they’ve spent time at someone else’s house, I hear that they were particularly polite and “well-behaved.”

“You are doing such a good job raising them!” they’ll add.

You don’t always get this kind of affirmation as a parent, so let me first say: “Thank you for the compliment!”

Let me secondly say: “Ugh.” Because really, how do you know I’m a good parent if you didn’t actually see me doing any parenting?

What does “behaving” mean, anyway?

Until relatively recently, children were expected to be quiet, polite, and easy to command. No one thought twice about taking food away as a form of punishment, or demanding a child “be nice” and give creepy Uncle Freddy a big hug.

But current research shows that this thinking is not only age-inappropriate, it also teaches children bad habits that are hard to unlearn. Sitting quietly for a long time requires discipline most preschoolers are incapable of. Demanding submissive behavior can stifle creativity and instill a problematic understanding of consent. On the other hand, respecting a child’s instincts and personal boundaries helps them understand agency and develop self-awareness.

There are plenty of reasons a child might display compliant behavior that aren’t necessarily an indicator of good parenting.

When my kids spend time with other adults or children, my hope is that they will act appropriately. But I also want my kids to create memories of being playful, whimsical, and even a bit mischievous.

Instead of sending them off with reminders to behave and “be good,” I tell them to be sure and have fun.

A “behaving” child isn’t always a well-parented child

The point is, good parenting does not always produce “good” behavior, especially if such is defined as placid…



Courtney Christine Woods, LSW
Writer for

Storyteller, social worker, solo parent. Fan of triads and alliteration. Believer that we’re all out here doing our best. Find me on FB @courtneycwrites