What is Permissive Parenting and Should You Try It?

Permissive Parenting

How do you show love? I’m not asking about your love language with your spouse. I’m asking how you show love to your kids…you’re not being graded, so be honest. There is no right or wrong answer. There are relationship experts who might disagree with me – and that’s fine – but I think everyone’s love language is capable of change.

For example, my love language with my husband is absolutely a tie between physical touch and words of affirmation. All I need from him is him constantly touching me and telling me how amazing I am…I’m not high maintenance at all, right?

With our four kids, however, my love language is absolutely quality time. This is not to say I don’t love and appreciate quality time spent with my husband. I do. But, I value physical touch and words of affirmation more with him, and quality time with the kids. I thrive on spending quality time with the kids.

For me, it’s the little moments. Playing in the pool with our son (cannon ball contests) is something I live for all summer. Nail appointments with our youngest daughter. Golfing with our middle daughter. Shopping and baking with our oldest. It’s why I place such a heavy emphasis on travel in our home. Traveling means we are together, spending time together of the highest quality, and it’s just enjoyable.

I show my kids I love them with my time. How do you show your kids? If you’re wondering where I’m going with this, I’m getting to the point (swear). Showing love to your kids is done in a myriad of ways, and your parenting style is one. Specifically, permissive parenting is what I want to discuss today. What is it? How does permissive parenting work? And should you try it?

What is Permissive Parenting?

Let’s start by saying that the other name commonly used to refer to permissive parenting is indulgent parenting. Does it sound so good now? It’s the act of parenting with high response and low demand. What does this mean? Permissive parents respond immediately and without hesitation to their children’s emotional demands and needs – and almost always in the favor of the child.

On the flip side, however, permissive parents don’t require much in return from their kids. In a nutshell, permissive parents want their kids happy all the time, but they’re hesitant to set boundaries and enforce rules for fear of upsetting their kids. Or, as we like to call it when we encounter permissive parents in our lives – a shit show. I said what I said.

There are Four Types of Parenting Styles

We’ve touched on permissive parenting. You love your kids, but you don’t know how to show them boundaries. There are three additional types of parenting – and each one is negative and positive.

Uninvolved parenting

Uninvolved parents love their kids, and they provide for them. However, they don’t give them much more than the absolute necessities. This style of parenting is often referred to as neglectful parenting, but it’s not quite the idea of neglect you’re imaging.

This type of neglect is more streamlined. An uninvolved parent is sending kids to school, giving them a safe place to live, providing food and clothing, sending them to sports. But they are emotionally uninvolved. They put their own needs first and don’t much thought to the kids other than providing the basics. These parents don’t nurture their kids, and they really have no expectations other than that their kids don’t bother them.

Authoritative Parenting

Authoritative parents are a bit more well-rounded than other types of parents. They love their kids and set clear boundaries and rules. They have high expectations, but they are also willing to listen to their kids because they understand every situation is different. These parents are nurturing and present, but they also expect their children to follow the rules that are set for them.

Authoritarian Parenting

Dictators. They’re dictators. They want their kids to do exactly what they say, when they say it, and there is no exception to the rule. Everything is black and white, and you don’t question it. Authoritarian parents are not typically nurturing, and communication is a one-way street. While an authoritative parent might listen to their child tell them why they broke a rule so they can better understand and open a dialogue about it, an authoritarian parent does not care. Parents tell kids what to do, kids listen, and that’s that.

Should You Try Permissive Parenting?

This is where you think I’m about to go into a short and sweet, “Absolutely not,” answer, isn’t it? Well, well, well…you’re mistaken. You should try permissive parenting.

But (there it is, you were right) only in small doses. Now you’re confused, and I don’t blame you. My brain works faster than my typing fingers – which are pretty fast – but my brain is a hamster wheel of thoughts running rampant. Permissive parenting is not the best style of parenting if you’re not setting boundaries, limits, and rules with your kids, but there are some exceptional qualities held by permissive parents. If you can figure out how to use the permissive parenting perks, you might just find the sweet spot.

The Good Qualities of a Permissive Parent

Sure, I called permissive parenting a shit show, but that’s because it is when it’s not married to another type of parenting. There are great benefits to each type of parenting style. A permissive parent is no exception to the rule. Permissive parents love their kids unconditionally. They nurture, and they respond. It’s important for a permissive parent to raise happy, healthy kids, and for them to form a wonderful bond with their kids.

The problem with permissive parenting is that they try to form these bonds and raise happy, healthy kids by giving them everything they want without any expectation of hard work, good behavior, or positive anything. They just do it no matter what the kids are doing or how they behaved. Permissive parents often raise spoiled kids who have no idea how to value anything.

However, the good qualities of a permissive parent can be married into other parenting rules. For example, if you take the good qualities of a permissive parent and combine them with the good qualities of an authoritarian parent, well, you get an authoritative parent. You get someone who value rules and learning right from wrong who is also there for their kids to nurture and show love, but also teach lessons and help them grow. For instances, kids with permissive parents thrive in the following situations.

Children are More Self-Assured

The children of self-assured parents are typically more self-assured as they grow older. They’re given an entire childhood to express themselves however they want in any situation, which typically makes them more confident. This not a bad trait.

Children are More Likely To Try New Things

When you are raised with parents who allow you to do almost anything you want, you’re more likely to try new things. The children of permissive parents are traditionally more adventurous and capable of trying new things, and it is a great quality to grow up with.

Children with Permissive Parents are More Creative

This surprises me, to be honest, and I’ll tell you why (of course, I will…do I ever leave you without my opinion?). It’s my belief (based on experience) that people are either creative or they are technical, but it’s uncommon to find someone who is both creative and technical.

The mind works in mysterious ways. I was not raised by permissive parents. My parents were more authoritarian – and we have a great relationship. I had a great childhood, and they are great grandparents to our kids, etc. My parents were not the super emotional, super nurturing type, but they had high expectations and the rules were black and white in *most* instances.

They did listen to us and hear us out, but the rules were still the rules. I am a tremendously creative person. My husband, on the other hand, had very permissive parents (he’s also just a lovely human who is kind, generous, sweet, helpful, and an all-around gentleman who didn’t get into trouble as a child).

I sometimes think they were so permissive because he was so well-rounded and just a good person and there was no need to be anything else. My point, though, is that he’s a very technical person. I’m the creative. That’s why this one surprises me. As it happens, permissive parents tend to raise more creative kids based on the lack of rules and limits.

What are the Negative Effects of Permissive Parenting?

Just like there are some good things that come from permissive parenting, there are some dangerous outcomes if you’re not careful. Children of permissive parents tend to see specific outcomes, as follows.

Children are Less Likely to Perform Well at School

Permissive, or lax, parents aren’t as likely to require their children to perform well at school. They’re less likely to make their kids do homework, or check on their grades, or listen to a concerned teacher. As a result, their kids tend to have a lower academic performance.

Children are Less Likely to Show Self Control

When a child grows up in an indulgent home, teaching self-control is often overlooked. Kids aren’t required to show restraint or learn to control their emotions because they get what they want regardless. Why learn to control your emotions when no one asks you to? Aggressive behavior is common in kids with indulgent parents because they are unaccustomed to hearing the word no or not getting their way. When someone else refuses to give in to their demands, they become enraged.

Children Are More Likely to Suffer from Addiction

Feeding into the previous side effect of permissive parenting, let’s go back to impulse control. Kids with permissive parents often don’t learn how to control their behavior, so they are more likely to suffer from addiction or criminal behavior. Why? They are aggressive, and they don’t know how to behave because consequences and rules never applied to them. These are kids with less concept of self-regulation.

Children Tend to Learn Fewer Social Skills

When no one teaches you to regulate your behavior, holds you accountable, or holds you to any expectations, you don’t learn much about socializing with other people who do all of the above. Kids of permissive parents do what they want without fear of consequence, and their lack of social skills makes it difficult for them to make friends. Others are unimpressed by that behavior.

Children are More Likely to Suffer from Weight Problems

Children of permissive parents aren’t held accountable and their parents don’t monitor much. As a result, they tend to overeat and become obese. Even being 25 pounds overweight puts you in a category of health concerns no one wants to live with.

When is it Safe to Use Permissive Parenting?

Perhaps ‘safe’ is the incorrect word. Maybe ‘right’ or ‘beneficial’ are better options? Either way, there are times when using permissive parenting benefits your kids. More to the point, there are times when using aspects of permissive parenting is a better option.

Permissive parenting traits are not always bad. Your kids need rules, schedules, and boundaries. However, you aren’t required to go authoritarian on them and make everything black and white. There is so much grey area involved in parenting, and being nurturing, supportive, and loving are wonderful traits.

In short, yes, you should try permissive parenting, but only when you marry it with authoritarian parenting, and you end up with authoritative parenting. Kids need adults who show their love and support. If your kids are afraid of you (authoritarian trait) because you don’t bend the rules or allow for explanation, they’re not likely to go to you when they are in trouble. They’re more likely to hide things from you and potentially lie.

When you’re too lenient with them (permissive), they’re more likely to learn nothing from their mistakes and make bigger ones in the future. Parents who are nurturing but also willing to listen to their reasoning, discipline them when its necessary, and set boundaries, you become your child’s safe zone. When you are the safe place, you all win.

It’s Your Choice

At the end of the day, parenting is personal. My parenting methods work with my kids, but they might not work with yours. I’m also mediocre at best, and I’m waiting for the kids to realize that I’m not the best mommy ever (I mean, I have been for 14 years, but I’m sure they’ll catch on to the fact that I don’t know what I’m doing at some point). All I can suggest is that you find a good marriage of being a loving, kind, nurturing parent but also one who knows the importance of boundaries and limits. Do you want to raise your own Picasso or your own Dahmer? Because it’s all in the parenting, my friends.

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