Permissive parenting is a hot topic in the parenting world — and not in a good way. Experts believe permissive parenting is synonymous with neglectful parenting. Do you worry you fall into this category? It’s possible that there are some positive effects of permissive parenting but a totally lenient parenting style can lead to problems. Find out more about permissive parenting and identify where you are in the parenting spectrum!
Permissive Parenting: Are You An Indulgent Parent?
In this article:
- What Is Permissive Parenting?
- Permissive versus Authoritarian Parenting
- Positive Effects of Permissive Parenting
- Negative Effects of Permissive Parenting
- Are You Concerned That You’re a Permissive Parent?
What Is Permissive Parenting?
Permissive or indulgent parenting style is when the parent is receptive but not demanding. It is also called libertarian, non-directive, or lenient parenting. Permissive parents can be very attentive to their child’s needs to the point of spoiling them. They want to be more of a “friend” rather than play the parental role. In this manner, these parents will have little to do with discipline or will not demand anything from their children.
Permissive versus Authoritarian Parenting
Permissive parents surrender to the whims of their children. These parents aren’t completely neglectful. But they’re more likely to look the other way when kids misbehave. Often, this comes from worrying about hurting their kids’ feelings. In contrast, authoritarian parents are strict and sometimes harsh. They don’t balance this disciplinarian style with rewards or a loving demeanor.
Most experts recommend a more moderate approach. Find a balance between permissive parenting and authoritarian parenting. How people define this middle ground can vary. Some call it positive parenting and some call it authoritative parenting. The recommended guidelines on how to approach discipline and rewards can also vary.
Positive Effects of Permissive Parenting
In general, if you hear the term “permissive parenting,” it’s not meant as a compliment. But for some parents, the approach has its merits:
1. It Fits Some Parents’ Personalities Best
Let’s face it, some people may not be cut out to use an authoritative style. You may be the warm, fuzzy type who inspires kids to want to be their best. If so, you may actually be able to make permissive parenting work for you.
Permissive parenting works best if you reinforce good behaviors with praise. Simply deciding not to punish doesn’t cut it. In other words, don’t drop “the stick” if you’re not willing to follow through with “the carrot.”
2. Some Kids Can Thrive
Most people believe permissive parenting always leads to bad behavior. Yet you’re the one who knows your child best. Maybe you have an experimental, let-it-all-hang-out type of household. If your child is thriving, why rock the boat? But you’ll need to be honest in your evaluations. Is your child kind and respectful? Does she have the self-discipline to impose her own limits? For some kids, the answer really is “yes.”
3. It’s Possible Some Parents Can Mix Up Positive With Permissive
Yes, even child psychologists have their biases. It’s possible that your own style is being misinterpreted. Positive parenting involves taking the time to explain rules to kids. It also encourages providing alternatives. Yet at the same time, positive parents do make sure rules are followed. Well-meaning grandparents and parenting experts believe the kids shouldn’t be “negotiated” with. So they mistake your discussions as “permissive”.
4. Some Cultures Fit Well With Permissive Parenting
A study of Spanish families found kids raised with permissive parents actually had few behavior problems. They also did well in school. Of course, what works in the Spanish context might not work for you. But are you in a community of like-minded people with similar permissive parenting standards? If so, children may do well because they don’t have several authority figures to rebel against.
Negative Effects of Permissive Parenting
Most experts agree classic permissive parenting has more negative than positive consequences:
1. It Makes Kids Feel Anxious
If there are no rules, children don’t know what’s acceptable from one day to the next. What a mom might wave away as “no big deal” might provoke her irritation the next. Kids seem to have a natural yearning for authority. Having someone in charge creates security. If they don’t get that sense of security, anxiety sets in.
2. Children Are More Aggressive And Less Able To Self-Soothe
Do your kids get their way by throwing tantrums? They may continue a version of that behavior as they grow older. And if parents don’t teach kids coping mechanisms for when they’re upset, they won’t learn how to stay calm.
3. Bad Habits Multiply
Requiring kids to clean their rooms or eat dinner before dessert while young leads to self-discipline in teens and adults. In contrast, permissive parenting can make children less organized as they grow. They may even become overweight or less educated. That’s due to overeating and over-indulging in mindless entertainment.
4. Children Do Poorly In School
Bad habits, no respect for authority, and low self-discipline? That’s a recipe for disaster when it comes to school and extracurriculars. If permissive parenting has brought out the worst in your kids at home, they’ll also flounder at school.
5. They May Get Into Serious Problems
Addiction and delinquency in teens have been linked to overly permissive parenting. Substance abuse and even some criminal activity are the worst-case scenarios. But they are real risks to consider when kids grow up with no limits.
Are You Concerned That You’re a Permissive Parent?
No parent is perfect. And few moms or dads really fit the label of “too strict” or “too permissive.” The last thing you should do is feel guilty about your parenting style, whatever your approach may be.
Instead, take an honest evaluation of where you feel your own weaknesses lie. Being clear-eyed about your kids’ room for improvement is tough, but important. Once you identify some areas to work on, positive changes are bound to follow. The most important thing is to be consistent with these changes.
Find out if you’re a controlling or permissive parent in this video by Blissful Parenting:
You’ve just added permissive parenting to the list of parenting approaches you know more about now. As we have time and again impressed, too much or too little of anything is bad. Balance is the key to successful parenting. Use the benefits of permissive parenting to your advantage and find ways to let its effects improve the relationship between you and your children.
Are you more or less of a permissive parent? Share your thoughts about permissive parenting in the comments section below!