Permissive parenting is a style which is characterized by placing low demands on a child while offering a high degree of responsiveness in return. The parents who follow this type of parenting style tend to provide a home environment which is very loving, but it comes at the expense of having very few rules, guidelines, or expectations.
Parents who prefer using the permissive structures of parenting do not expect mature behaviors from their kids in most situations. Their goal is to be more of a friend-figure to their children instead of being in a position of authority.
Instead of hovering over every move their kids make each day, permissive parents rarely make or enforce any structure or rules, preferring more of a relaxed approach.
If you’ve ever heard someone say that, “kids will be kids,” or “boys will be boys,” then you’ve likely encountered a parent who prefers to use the permissive style. Discipline is rare in homes which practice this form of parenting.
There are specific pros and cons associated with permissive parenting which are essential to review to understand how this approach impacts the current and future health of the next generation.
List of the Pros of Permissive Parenting
1. Permissive parents prioritize their relationships with their kids.
Parents who prefer to take the permissive approach have a genuine desire to form relationships with their children. They want their kids to find as much happiness as possible. There are various reasons why this might be a priority in the home. Many parents who look at this style as being a positive way to interact with children often have distant or unhappy relationships with their own parents.
They might have poor memories from their childhood that they want to correct with their own children. That causes them to swing from one extreme to the other.
2. There is minimal conflict in homes where permissive parenting is used.
Because the number of rules or guidelines in permissive parenting is minimal, the potential for conflict within the home is much lower when compared to other styles that parents adopt. Permissive parents want to avoid conflict at any cost. They typically give in to whatever their children want as a way to maintain peace in the home. This process makes it appear, at least on a surface level, that there is a harmonious parent-child relationship forming.
3. Permissive parents encourage high levels of creativity.
One of the primary reasons why parents adopt this style for their home is that they want their children to be free-thinkers. They want their kids to have the freedom to embrace their creativity or avoid it if they so choose. The goal is to create an environment where there are no hindrances or drawbacks that would hold a child back from their full potential. Kids are given a chance to carve their own path in life at an early age, which fosters independence too.
That’s why children who come from this type of environment typically score higher on intelligence tests while also having a strong emotional IQ to rely upon.
4. It creates more conversation in the home.
Permissive parenting creates a two-way street of communication between the parent and the child. Since both parties have a say as to what goes on in the home, there is less nervousness involved when having conversations about how to approach challenging subjects. Each party is invested in the other to create a successful outcome. That structure creates higher levels of self-esteem in children because they know that their parents love them unconditionally – whether they mess up or not.
5. Permissive parenting encourages early maturity.
The structures of this parenting style encourage children to become independent at an early age. Although this may not apply to household chores or other elements within the home structure, it does seek to help kids begin to learn things on their own. It is the child who gets to decide on their extra-curricular activities (if they want to do any), hobbies, elective classes, and time spent with friends. They must learn to balance their time demands wisely, which gives them a skill that can be used later on in life.
6. It reduces the separation anxiety some children feel.
You can almost always tell which children come from permissive homes when you observe the first day of kindergarten at a school. There are children who marched right up to the classroom, confident in their abilities and social knowledge. Then there are the kids who start crying loudly, clinging to their parents, refusing to go because they aren’t used to the shift in expectations.
Kids who learn independence from an early age have reduced issues with separation anxiety, allowing them to conquer new challenges without giving their circumstances a second thought.
7. Permissive parenting includes the child during family decisions.
There are times when parents must make a choice for their entire family during a crossroads moment. That might mean moving across the country to take a new job, purchasing a new home, or reducing spending because one of the parents got fired. Kids are included in these final decisions with this parenting style because they are viewed as being an equal member of the family. Their voice becomes part of the decision-making process. This inclusion can help to forge a tighter bond between the parent and the child.
8. It teaches children how to negotiate in healthy ways.
When we think about permissive parenting, then there’s a good chance that a picture of the child throwing a temper tantrum at a store because they don’t get their way is what comes to mind. Although this is an outcome which frequently occurs when using the style, one cannot overlook the benefit of teaching a child how to negotiate in healthy ways. Parents being open to this process can understand what the needs of their children are with more accuracy because they can make decisions based off of information instead of assumptions.
Children also understand where their parents are coming from when decisions are made because they’ve been actively involved in the conversations required of a negotiation. When both are on the same page, then there are fewer moments of conflict to worry about.
List of the Cons of Permissive Parenting
1. Permissive parenting cedes control to the child in the family.
Although permissive parenting doesn’t create questions of control when children are younger, that changes once the kids begin to approach their teen years. It becomes very apparent that it is the child in charge of the relationship instead of the parent. Kids learn that their parents wish to avoid conflict with them, so they use that situation as a way to get the things that they want. When the parents grow tired of this manipulation and eventually put their foot down, it creates an intense power struggle because the kids are used to calling the shots.
2. It creates a clash between the wants and needs of children.
Younger children have very simple wants and needs. When parents can provide the basics, such as food, shelter, affection, and sleep, then permissive parenting feels like a natural way to build relationships. When the children grow older, however, there is a divide that begins to develop between their wants and needs.
A child might be satisfied by eating ice cream all day, but we know as adults that they need balanced nutrition to support their health. Permissive parenting doesn’t provide guidance in this area of life. It gives in to the child’s demands, creating an unhealthy clash between the wants and needs of kids who might struggle to recognize the difference.
3. Permissive parenting creates a lack of motivation in children.
Children who grow up in homes where permissive parenting occurs often struggle with personal motivation. They often feel like they are drifting in a vast cloud of random opportunities. There is no way for them to set clear goals are boundaries because they never really had any while growing up. This outcome creates a circumstance for some kids where they feel like nobody cares about them because there were no guidelines set for them in the first place.
4. It creates critical compromises at inopportune times.
Parents who prefer to use the permissive style can find themselves making constant compromises about issues which are really important to them, but not as critical to their children. They might allow their child to be disrespectful or rude in public because they don’t want to make a scene in front of others.
Some might let their kids spend too much time playing video games or being on the Internet instead of doing their homework.
Permissive parents will sacrifice success if it allows the child to make their own choices. There is no thought about the wisdom behind those decisions either, permitting them to occur even if the outcomes are harmful to their kids.
5. Permissive parenting results in a lack of self-discipline.
Children who come from permissive homes struggle to stay focused on ideas or tasks because they are forced to create personal guidelines to follow on their own. The parents do not effectively discipline their child in this situation, making it a challenge for kids to understand what self-discipline is at a basic level.
Most teachers, bosses, and other authority figures in the child’s life will not tolerate a lack of discipline. An unruly approach rarely works outside of the home when permissive parenting is the preferred structure. That makes it difficult for children to understand the concepts of cause-and-effect because there are more rules and regulations in society than there are in their bedroom.
6. It blurs the lines between the child and the parent.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to be a positive figure in the life of a child. Permissive parents seek friendship because they see themselves as being in a supporting role to help their kids find success. The problem with this approach is that it blurs the lines between who is a parent and who is a child.
When an environment contains no limits or structures, then trust and respect struggles to form because the child is the one pulling the strings. It is the kids who set the rules of the home. That causes the desire to develop a close relationship to backfire quickly, souring the connection for good sometimes.
7. Permissive parenting can lead to riskier adult behavior.
Children who grow up in homes with permissive parents typically have a higher risk of alcohol abuse as an adult. This problem occurs because kids in this environment usually internalize their feelings because they’re never taught how to express them in healthy ways. They turn to addictive substances as a coping mechanism since there is no other outlet. Although this issue is not prevalent in toddlers, it can affect children as young as four years of age in negative ways.
8. It communicates a lack of trust to the child.
Permissive parenting on its surface seems like it offers high levels of trust to the child. The opposite actually occurs. There is no trust for personal responsibilities in this type of relationship. That’s because the parents do not react whenever their kids behave in a way that is disruptive or negative. The parents choose to give in as a way to prevent issues from escalating in ways that could be embarrassing. Some may even bribe their kids to behave in specific ways, using manipulation instead of authority to generate results.
9. Permissive parenting does not create the boundaries of child needs.
Boundaries are necessary for children, especially when they are young. Kids need to feel safe and secure. Since children set their own limitations when this parenting style is incorporated in the home, it can leave them feeling helpless and overwhelmed. This structure makes it challenging for kids to then set healthy boundaries at school, daycare, or other social places where they are enforced with greater regularity. It is a process which can cause kids to struggle with sharing toys, interacting with others, or even prevent them from making friends.
These permissive parenting pros and cons take a look at the outcomes that are possible when this approach is used. Most experts agree that a combination of different styles works the best when teaching kids the basics of life. There are times on being permissive is the correct approach. Children also need some level of structure and expectation to understand what it means to set realistic goals. That’s why the lenient attitude is often doomed when used with older children.