Permissive Parenting: An Overview

Permissive parents believe that showing their child love and feeling loved, in return, is the ultimate goal in parenting. Permissive parents tend to avoid conflict at any cost. Discipline and limits are often missing from the permissive household.

Permissive parents do love their children and are highly bonded to their children. They believe the key to their child’s heart is to relate to their child as a peer instead of as a parent. Rules, if they exist at all, are inconsistent at best. If a permissive parent needs a child to act on a rule or expectation, often times the parent will use any means necessary including bribery, gifts, food and other motivators to gain their child’s compliance.

One of the problems with permissive parenting is that children do need healthy limits and expectations not only to learn appropriate behavior for functioning as a member of society but also to feel valued and cared for. Often, over time, children of permissive parents suffer a loss in self esteem because there is no one to ask about their grades in school or help them with homework. Likewise, children feel like an important part of a functional unit – the family unit – when they are held to a higher standard and are required to be part of that functional family unit whether it be through chores or routine bedtimes or other structured family activities. Permissive parents, in their desire to be everything to their children, often times miss the boat entirely and have very little to offer that a peer at school can’t also fulfill.

When a permissive parent does try to discipline, children quickly learn how to manipulate these parents to get what they want. Permissive parents, wanting to please at any cost, cave to this manipulation time and time again. In the end, permissive parents often end up feeling resentful and taken for granted. But these parents simply have not learned to “just say no”.

Permissive parents raise children who grow into adults that have no strong inner sense of discipline, no sense of connectedness or family and essentially have to re-parent themselves, which puts them at a disadvantage in all areas of life as adults. It is not unusual for adult children of permissive parents to feel resentful or angry toward their parents as they realize the many lessons they were not taught as children because their parents were so desperate to not make waves at any cost.

We know through experience that permissive parenting does not work. Permissive parents are better off trying for a more balanced approach. Having love and affection is a healthy part of parenting but it becomes unhealthy if there isn’t also a balance of guidance and discipline.

Are you a permissive parent?