What is Permissive Parenting?
Most parents have the desire to do a good job in raising their children. Whether you have one child or many, you want to make sure they get a good education, are loved and cared for and have their needs met. Parents may have different parenting styles, but their goals are generally the same – to raise happy, well-adjusted children who will eventually grow into mature, responsible adults.
The way you parent your kids can make a tremendous difference in how they respond to life. A study of 9,000 UK households revealed that parenting style had greater influence than family structure or financial stability on a child’s future.
Permissive parenting can best be described as indulgent parenting, as parents make few demands on their children, exercise less authority in their lives and are more likely to give in to their whims. Developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind describes such parents as being “more responsive than they are demanding. They are nontraditional and lenient, do not require mature behavior, allow considerable self-regulation, and avoid confrontation.”
Permissive Parenting Definition
What is permissive parenting? It’s a style of parenting where few demands or boundaries are placed on children to teach them good behavior or help them grow. Children are pretty much allowed to regulate their own behavior according to what they feel is best for them. In order to avoid conflicts, parents assume a non-controlling attitude and generally give in to their children’s demands.
While some permissiveness is good when it comes to parenting, depending on the situation, too much leniency can actually destroy a parent-child relationship and be harmful to your child. When taken to the extreme, this parenting style amounts to little more than parents abdicating their responsibilities and authority as the head of their family.
Characteristics of Permissive Parents
Permissive parenting can be characterized by:
- Excessive leniency
- Poor behavior standard on the part of children
- Inconsistent rules
- Overprotection of children
- Lack of parental authority
- Being overly nurturing and loving
There is nothing wrong with being nurturing and loving to your children. However, there should be a balance of discipline and love to help children grow into responsible adults. Few, if any, children are born with a moral compass. They must be taught the difference between right and wrong. Discipline is a means of teaching your children unacceptable and acceptable behavior and encouraging them to do what is right.
Children who are left to their own devices or who have little guidance from their parents will eventually grow up with:
- No moral compass
- A lack of self-control
- Poor social skills
- Demanding attitudes
- Insecurities due to lack of boundaries
Dangers of Being Too Lenient in Your Parenting
Setting boundaries is an essential part of parenting. Parents who fail to set boundaries for their children are stunting their emotional growth. Such children rarely develop self-discipline or learn to take responsibility for their actions. The following scenarios are quite common when parents adopt a permissive parenting style.
- Parents grant requests that are not good for their children and it results in negative consequences.
- Children are given their desires at someone else’s expense.
- Children lack emotional maturity to handle frustrations and disappointments
- Children never learn to impose limits or boundaries on themselves, resulting in inability to manage their lives.
- Children grow up to be self-centered and “me” oriented.
- Children lack conviction to live an uncompromised lifestyle
- Children can never fully connect, respect or trust their parents due to their overly tolerant attitudes.
Are You a Permissive Parent?
Parenting is a difficult job and no parent is perfect in how they raise their children. Most parents struggle to find the right balance in loving, teaching, disciplining and meeting their kids’ needs. Even if you don’t start out as a permissive parent, you may, over time, find yourself leaning in that direction due to other responsibilities or demands on your time.
The older your children become, the more freedoms they desire. Not all freedoms will be to their best interest. By taking time to discuss situations rationally with your older children and weigh the pros and cons of their demands, you can make wiser decisions concerning their care.
Parenting is a responsibility, not a popularity contest. As a parent, you will not always agree with your children’s decisions and vice versa. There will be times you need to make decisions that go against their wishes but are necessary for their care. Standing up for your convictions may create some conflicts initially; however, it will eventually win the respect of your tweens and teens as they see you have their best interest at heart.
If you’re wondering if you’re becoming too lenient in your parenting, here are a few telltale signs.
Laxness in Enforcing Routines and Responsibilities
Busy parents often have less time to keep up with a high parenting standard. As a result, you may become lax in enforcing routines and responsibilities in your kids’ lives. Children who lack routines and responsibilities easily become lazy and spoiled.
Leniency to Avoid Conflicts
It’s much easier to cater to your young people’s demands than face confrontations. Leniency reduces the risk of conflicts, making it seem an easy solution to resolve differences that arise. Constantly giving in to your kids, however, especially on important matters, will eventually destroy your credibility and lose your kids’ respect.
Excusing Responsibilities Due to School
Most kids will do their best to get out of a home chore rather than do the job. Too much homework has become a favorite excuse for letting home responsibilities slide. There may be times when certain school projects or studying for exams demand more of your kids’ time, making it necessary for academics to take precedence. For the most part, however, you can expect your young people to accomplish both. Use the opportunity to teach your kids how to work smarter and manage their time so nothing gets left undone.
Trying to Be Popular with Your Teen
Permissive parents have a tendency to want to be liked by their teens more than being respected as an authoritative figure. There’s nothing wrong with making friends with your teens. However, choosing to be popular over being respected is a big mistake. Teens need parents who have the conviction to stand up for what’s right and help them do the same.
Purchasing Latest Gadgets
Today’s children are notorious for pressuring their parents into buying them the latest gadgets. A permissive parent will usually give in to their kids’ requests for smart phones, tablets, iPads and more. Although it can be helpful for tweens or teens to have their own phone, you shouldn’t feel obligated to get your kids the latest gadgets simply to fulfill their desires.
Teens who work part time should be encouraged to buy their own gadgets. Buying a simple phone or tablet for your tween serves the same purpose as an expensive brand. You can also use these items as incentives for good conduct or performance.
Can Permissive Parenting Contribute to Bullying?
Parents who are overly permissive don’t usually keep track of where their children are or what they are doing. Lack of supervision may encourage kids with an aggressive nature to engage in bullying. Permissive parents also have the tendency to excuse their kids negative behavior, making it easier for their children to get away with bullying acts.
Permissiveness eliminates most rules and boundaries, encouraging kids to simply act on their own impulses – good or bad. It also absolves children from being responsible for their actions. This combination can contribute to children adopting errant behavior to get what they want.
Before adopting a permissive parenting style, parents should carefully consider how it affects their children. Having a balanced parenting style will help your kids accept responsibilities and learn values and traits that will help them grow into mature adults.