Do you often find your style of parenting is to give in? Maybe you see yourself throwing your hands in the air, walking away from your kid, saying “Fine, do whatever you want?”
Permissive parenting is when you parent your child with few expectations and little control over his behavior. You may not have too many rules or guidelines, or if you do, you don’t follow thru on consequences when your child breaks them. Your expectation for age-appropriate behavior is low, and you are more like a friend to your child than a parent.
You probably didn’t start out as a permissive parent. Or even if you did, you may be noticing that it’s become an issue.
So why exactly is this a problem? Read below for the 7 problems with permissive parenting.
1.You allow behavior that leads to negative consequences for your child. It may not feel intentional, but permissive parenting is allowing your child to do things that will be problematic or dangerous. For example, not enforcing wearing a helmet or seat belt, or you let your teen hang out with kids with wayward behavior. There are foreseeable negative consequences here.
While it isn’t your responsibility to protect your child from all negative consequences (that’s helicopter parenting) you do have a reasonable duty of foreseeing when your child’s actions are going to have a negative consequence and then work to set limits so your child will make a different choice.
2.This parenting style impacts others beside your child. Let’s say you allow your child to be on Facebook all evening and into the night. Now his sister is upset because she didn’t have her turn on the computer, his teachers are annoyed because he’s cranky and disruptive in class, and his peers are distracted by his behavior. Your child doesn’t live in a vacuum, so any other people he encounters will feel an effect of your permissive parenting.
3.Permissive parenting communicates “You’ll always get what you want.” There are a few core issues with this message:
1.It’s not true because no one ever always gets what they want.
2.Your child will feel entitled and will expect this from others in his life.
3.Your child will have low frustration tolerance for when life gets hard, which leads to no coping skills or poor choice in coping skills (like drugs and alcohol).
4.Your child won’t learn lessons from setbacks. If you always give in to your child, he won’t experience life getting hard and things not going his way. You’re trying to prevent your child from failure, but you’re really setting him up for it.
5.Your child will have poor self-discipline. Your child first learns limit setting from you when you model it. From that experience he learns to set his own limits on behavior as he becomes a pre-teen and teen. If you don’t teach and set limits for your child he won’t be able to discipline himself by thinking before he acts or knowing the difference between right and wrong.
6.Your child won’t learn that love means safety and boundaries, not who can meet his desires the quickest. In his relationships with peers and spouses he will base his happiness off of getting materials things or getting his way. Your child should learn that love is defined by caring, and caring often looks like telling someone “no.”
7.You end up accepting behavior that compromises your own values as a parent. This leads to resentment, frustration, and a disconnect in your relationship. Even though you want to set limits you feel like you are being held hostage by the threat of misbehavior. You realize this isn’t the relationship you want with your child and you pull away even further.
Bottom line: Permissive parenting is a trap that you likely see yourself in, but struggle to get out of. If you feel this way you are doing a disservice to yourself as well as your child. And I hate to tell you this, but when he gets older, it will only get worse.
So get rid of the guilt, set those limits, and regain control of your kid and your family!
Please comment below: Do you identify as a permissive parent? What did you find were the consequences of that?
Jenmarie Eadie is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. She received her Master’s in Social Work from Arizona State with a dual concentration in Children, Youth, and Families; and Behavioral Health. Her proudest accomplishment is following her dream of opening up a practice that is designed to focus on the whole family. She currently serves families in Southern California.