TypeScript: How to get the parent node of an element

Updated: February 14, 2024 By: Guest Contributor Post a comment


Understanding how to navigate the Document Object Model (DOM) in web development is essential for interacting with and manipulating web pages. TypeScript, a strong-typed superset of JavaScript, provides structured ways to handle such operations with ease. This guide delves into how to retrieve the parent node of an element using TypeScript, starting from the fundamentals and advancing to more complex scenarios.


Before diving into the technical aspects, ensure you have a basic understanding of HTML, DOM, JavaScript, and TypeScript. A development environment set up with TypeScript compiler or a TypeScript-friendly IDE is also essential.

Basic Concept: The parentNode Property

In its simplest form, accessing a parent node in TypeScript is similar to JavaScript, thanks to the parentNode property. This property returns the parent node of the specified element, which can be null if the element has no parent.

const element = document.getElementById('myElement');
const parent = element.parentNode;

This basic sample showcases how to retrieve the parent element of an element with the id ‘myElement’. If executed within a browser environment, the console will display the parent node’s details.

Utilizing TypeScript for More Precise Results

With TypeScript’s strong typing, we enhance precision and safety in DOM manipulation. By explicitly defining the element’s type, TypeScript can better predict and prevent errors during compilation.

const element = document.getElementById('myElement') as HTMLElement;
const parent = element.parentNode as HTMLElement;

This approach leaves less room for runtime errors by ensuring that both element and parent are indeed HTMLElements. It’s particularly useful when followed by operations that are specific to HTMLElements.

Exploring parentNode vs parentElement

While parentNode and parentElement might seem interchangeable, there’s a subtle difference. The parentNode property can return any node type, including Element, Document, and DocumentFragment nodes. On the other hand, parentElement specifically returns an Element node, providing a more specific result when working exclusively with elements.

const node = document.getElementById('myElement') as HTMLElement;
const parentByNode = node.parentNode;
const parentByElement = node.parentElement as HTMLElement;
console.log('Parent by Node:', parentByNode);
console.log('Parent by Element:', parentByElement);

This code snippet demonstrates the practical difference between using parentNode and parentElement. The console output will illustrate how both properties can lead to the same or different outcomes, depending on the context.

Handling Complex DOM Structures

In real-world applications, DOM structures can get complex, making the search for a parent node a bit more challenging. Let’s tackle a scenario where you need to find a specific parent type, walking up the DOM tree.

function findParentByTagName(element: HTMLElement, tagName: string): HTMLElement | null {
  let currentElement: HTMLElement | null = element;
  tagName = tagName.toUpperCase();
  while (currentElement && currentElement.tagName !== tagName) {
    currentElement = currentElement.parentElement;
  return currentElement;

const element = document.getElementById('myElement') as HTMLElement;
const container = findParentByTagName(element, 'DIV');

This function, findParentByTagName, traverses upwards from the given element until it finds an ancestor with the specified tag name, or returns null if no such ancestor exists. It exemplifies handling more intricate queries with efficiency and accuracy.

Working with TypeScript Generics for Enhanced Type Safety

TypeScript generics allow for defining generic methods where the type can be specified during the call, further enhancing functional flexibility without compromising type safety.

function findParent<T extends HTMLElement>(element: HTMLElement, predicate: (el: T) => boolean): T | null {
  let current: HTMLElement | null = element;
  while (current && !predicate(current as T)) {
    current = current.parentElement;
  return current as T | null;

const result = findParent<HTMLDivElement>(document.getElementById('myElement') as HTMLElement, (el) => el.classList.contains('desired-class'));

This example showcases how to utilize generics for retrieving a parent of a specific type that meets a particular condition. It demonstrates TypeScript’s power in maintaining robust type checks in dynamic, complex operations.


Accessing the parent node of an element in TypeScript is an integration of familiar JavaScript practices and TypeScript’s type enhancements. By leveraging TypeScript’s strong typing and generics, developers can navigate and manipulate the DOM with increased precision and safety. The examples provided here serve as a foundation, encouraging exploration and deeper understanding of DOM manipulation in the context of TypeScript.