Permissive parenting is not an ‘anything goes’ approach to parenting. It does not mean that children are free to say or do what they like. It does mean though that the parents strongly seek an absence of conflict.
Permissive parents want their home filled with love and hope that their children will love them, the parents, as much as the parents love their children.
But experts are not totally convinced. They say that all children need and desire some form of parameters. All children, it is said, feel safer when there are boundaries which they are instructed not to cross.
Outside the home the rules of permissive behavior may not exist. In school, all students may be graded. Certain tests may show the progress of each child. In a sporting or arts program, students may be in a competitive situation. Feelings of disappointment can appear. A child wants. They need rules of what is acceptable behavior. But leaving the child to sort out their own problems is said by many experts to be unfair and unhelpful for a child.
One of the most sad aspects of permissive parenting is that, when they become adults, children of permissive parenting feel resentful towards their parents. The now adult children seem to lack an ability to impose self discipline. They feel they were not taught simple home lessons with rules and rewards and punishments and that somehow, their life is now lacking something.
Some parents who adopt the permissive parenting style do so because, as a child, they grew up in a rigid, authoritarian home and didn’t like it. So as a reaction, the new parents swing to the other extreme and give their children a free hand in deciding what they want to do.
What may happen and often does is that the intentions are good but the end result is all wrong. A parent may not wish to confront their child. They avoid conflict and use the permissive parenting style. But then things go wrong. The child retreats within them self thinking their parents have little or no interest in them. The child may become frustrated and express their anger.
Their ‘no-conflict’ parents fail to properly address their child’s frustration and the relationship sours.
It sounds trite but the advice to many parents is to fix their own life first, to be confident in what they are doing and how they feel about themselves before helping their child. By worrying that your child may not like you or appreciate you, a permissive parent is missing the point.
Critics of permissive parenting argue that the child is in charge of the parent and that that is not healthy. It can be doubly true when the child is a teenager and able to venture out and mix with the wrong crowd.
Perhaps in its favor, one benefit of permissive parenting is that if used as part of a parenting style, say mixed with authoritative style of parenting, the child may get the best of both worlds. The child can get rules and a structure but with little if any conflict.
Here are additional resources you might be interested in: