Getting the parent div of element

This should be really simple but I’m having trouble with it. How do I get a parent div of a child element?


<div id="test">
    <p id="myParagraph">Testing</p>

My JavaScript:

var pDoc = document.getElementById("myParagraph");
var parentDiv = ??????????

I would have thought document.parent or parent.container would work but I keep getting not defined errors. Note that the pDoc is defined, just not certain variables of it.

Any ideas?

P.S. I would prefer to avoid jQuery if possible.


Thank you for visiting the Q&A section on Magenaut. Please note that all the answers may not help you solve the issue immediately. So please treat them as advisements. If you found the post helpful (or not), leave a comment & I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Method 1

You’re looking for parentNode, which Element inherits from Node:

parentDiv = pDoc.parentNode;

Handy References:

  • DOM2 Core specification – well-supported by all major browsers
  • DOM2 HTML specification – bindings between the DOM and HTML
  • DOM3 Core specification – some updates, not all supported by all major browsers
  • HTML5 specification – which now has the DOM/HTML bindings in it

Method 2

If you are looking for a particular type of element that is further away than the immediate parent, you can use a function that goes up the DOM until it finds one, or doesn’t:

// Find first ancestor of el with tagName
// or undefined if not found
function upTo(el, tagName) {
  tagName = tagName.toLowerCase();

  while (el && el.parentNode) {
    el = el.parentNode;
    if (el.tagName && el.tagName.toLowerCase() == tagName) {
      return el;

  // Many DOM methods return null if they don't 
  // find the element they are searching for
  // It would be OK to omit the following and just
  // return undefined
  return null;

Edit 2021

Element.closest is part of the DOM standard. It takes a selector as an argument and returns the first matching ancestor or null if there isn’t one.

Method 3

The property pDoc.parentElement or pDoc.parentNode will get you the parent element.

Method 4

var parentDiv = pDoc.parentElement

edit: this is sometimes parentNode in some cases.

Method 5

This might help you.

ParentID = pDoc.offsetParent;

Method 6

Knowing the parent of an element is useful when you are trying to position them out the “real-flow” of elements.

Below given code will output the id of parent of element whose id is provided. Can be used for misalignment diagnosis.

<!-- Patch of code to find parent -->
<p id="demo">Click the button </p>
<button onclick="parentFinder()">Find Parent</button>
function parentFinder()
    var x=document.getElementById("demo"); 
    var y=document.getElementById("*id of Element you want to know parent of*");;
<!-- Patch ends -->

Method 7

I had to do recently something similar, I used this snippet:

const getNode = () =>
  for (let el = this.$el; el && el.parentNode; el = el.parentNode){
    if (/* insert your condition here */) return el;
  return null

The function will returns the element that fulfills your condition. It was a CSS class on the element that I was looking for. If there isn’t such element then it will return null

In case somebody would look for multiple elements it only returns closest parent to the element that you provided.

My example was:

if (el.classList?.contains('o-modal')) return el;

I used it in a vue component (this.$el) change that to your document.getElementById function and you’re good to go. Hope it will be useful for some people ✌️

All methods was sourced from or, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5, cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0

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