Practitioner assessments of ?good enough? parenting: factorial survey

Julie Taylor, William Lauder, Maxine Moy, Jo Corlett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


AIM: The aim of this study was to measure health visitors' professional judgements on 'good enough' parenting and identify what factors and combinations of these are important when making such judgements. BACKGROUND: The relationship between parenting and child health is unclear. Whilst agreement exists that 'good enough' parenting requires boundary setting, consistency and putting the child's needs first, attempting to define 'good enough' parenting in precise terms is complex. When faced with a complex situation, practitioners rely on relatively few factors to form judgements. DESIGN: Factorial survey methods were employed using vignette techniques. METHODS: Vignettes were constructed using previous research on those variables, which may influence nurses' judgements, for example, accommodation and child dentition. The level of factors was randomly varied. Two thousand vignettes were administered to a sample of 200 health visitors in two Health Boards who then made a judgement about this scenario. ANALYSIS: Data were analysed through multiple regression with dummy variables and one-way analysis of variance. Regression equations for both good enough mothering and good enough parenting are reported. RESULTS: The models used are significant predictors of parenting and mothering. Significant predictors on health visitor judgements' were boundary setting in sleep behaviours, type of housing inhabited and health behaviours. Although parenting and mothering are often conflated, health visitors appear to separate these aspects when making judgements based on type of housing. CONCLUSIONS: Most professionals can articulate what makes a 'good' parent, equally they may have strong views regarding what constitutes 'poor' parenting. The difficulty is in determining when parenting is 'good enough' to provide a child with a nurturing environment. RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: This study suggests that practitioners move their thresholds of what is 'good enough' depending on a narrow range of factors. Awareness of the factors, which influence individuals' judgements is important in safeguarding children.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1180-1189
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2009


  • Children
  • Factorial survey
  • Judgement
  • Nurses
  • Nursing
  • Parenting


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