I bet you want your children to be empowered, innovative, emphatic, decision makers and loving. Maybe, your parents were overly strict or demanding with you, and you know that you do NOT want to follow their example. Perhaps, you’ve seen examples of helicopter parents micromanaging their kids, and you’ve determined that you do NOT want to be that type of parent. So you turn to Permissive Parenting.
As a parent of two children, I can empathize with all you who are in this situation. All of the above points resonate with me.
However, I’m here to tell you that Permissive Parenting can be disastrous for kids. In this article, I’m going to explain what permissive parenting means, and give you seven reasons why Permissive Parenting is terrible for your child. I’ll wrap up by giving you some advice on what parenting style you should consider, and share my favorite resources for taking action.
PS. If you'd rather watch a video, then read an article, I recorded this YouTube video that features mostly the same content as the article. Be sure to hit the subscribe button and leave a comment, so I know you stopped by.
What is Permissive Parenting?
- Permissive Parenting rejects the idea that children should be controlled or constrained.
- Permissive Parenting enables children to make their own decisions.
Are you Permissive Parenting?
If the answer to most of these is yes, then you are permissive parenting.
- Do you allow your child to treat you or others in a way that you would not let your friends, co-workers & siblings treat you?
- Do you allow your child to make most of their own decisions, including what they wear, what they eat, when to sleep, how they learn and how they enjoy themselves?
- Do you try to limit using the word “No” or create rules for only the most necessary situations?
- Do you try to avoid a confrontation with your child?
- Do you love your child, trusting them to make their own mistakes?
- Do you have to bribe your child to do things (ex. Give your child an iPhone at a restaurant, pay your child for chores)
- Do you want to be “best friends” with your child, where they see you as an equal, rather than as an authority figure?
I suspect you at least identified with a couple of these bullets. Permissive Parenting intent is to be loving and supportive parents. The intention is often rooted in love, trust, and democratic ideals.
However, the results can be disastrous, even for parents trying to raise emphatic, innovative, decision making children.
Here are seven reasons why.
1. Your child learns that they don’t need to follow the rules to succeed. Since there are little to no rules at home, your child won't know how to deal with regulations outside of the house. Your child may be successful even up to middle school in a no rules environment, but good luck in high school, college and in their career, where systems & rules are necessary.
2. Your child doesn’t learn the concept of “consequences.” If your child isn’t consistently learning that breaking rules have consequences, they’ll probably struggle with accountability. They’ll almost certainly have issues dealing with people of authority such as teachers & managers.
3. Your child learns that they can only be happy if they get what they want. If your child doesn’t learn how to live within certain limits & rules, they’ll have a hard time later in life dealing with any setback, resistance or challenge. Resilience will be critical for the highest paying jobs in the 21st century.
4. Your child’s emotional intelligence is negatively impacted, especially during teamwork and group activities. Since in work and school, you rarely get what you want, and instead have to collaborate through listening & challenging, a child that hasn’t learned this skill is going to be very frustrated in group settings. Think of that person in work who is always preaching on behalf of the needs of their team and is not capable of listening to the needs of the group. Do you want your child to be that guy or girl!
5. Your child could make decisions that have severe negative impacts, including to their health and well being. Many studies have shown that children of permissive parents are more likely to increase alcohol use among teenagers. To learn more, check out Reimuller, Hussong, Ennett’s 2011 study
6. Your child learns to become externally motivated rather than internally motivated. If the only way you can get your child to do something is by bribing them, your child loses the internal drive to do something for the sake of getting better or improving things.
“For artists, scientists, inventors, schoolchildren, and the rest of us, intrinsic motivation—the drive do something because it is interesting, challenging, and absorbing—is essential for high levels of creativity.”
― Daniel H. Pink, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
7. Your child is at risk of being a low achiever. Think back to when you were a kid. Most of us just wanted to play or watch tv. Nowadays there are even more distractions. Without parents pushing their children to achieve more, your child is at risk of getting left behind. In the global 21st century workforce, where people from all over the world are competing for the same global job, good luck finding a job if you are a low achiever.
The Fun & Hilarious Way to Learn about Permissive Parenting?
If you haven’t already, watch Big Daddy, starring Adam Sandler in his prime (before he became a caricature). It's a hilarious way to learn why some parents choose to pursue permissive parenting, the benefits of it and the significant drawbacks of permissive parenting. Since this is Hollywood, obviously the comedy and situations are heightened, but the themes are real, and there are useful lessons to be learned. If you haven’t watched Big Daddy yet, enjoy it this weekend, and skip the next section where I go through some spoilers and key lessons learned.
A) Note why Adam Sandler’s character chooses to pursue permissive parenting? What was he rebelling against? It is very common that parents start permissive parenting in reaction to a personal distaste with the overly strict upbringing they suffered through.
B) Adam Sandler’s character gives his adopted child full autonomy to make decisions. What decisions does he make? Are they good decisions?
C) Notice how once Adam Sandler's character empowers his adopted child to get whatever he wants, the child doesn't factor in his dad's needs. Even though its overtime in the Stanley Cup Finals, Adam Sandler's character has trained his adopted son to always get what he wants by threatening to throw a tantrum.
Instead of Permissive Parenting, what do we suggest?
A) First of all, learn from the mistakes your parents made with you. If your parents were overly strict or demanding with you, then the answer is NOT to go to the other extreme of being a permissive parent. Find the balance. You can set high expectations and create boundaries for your child while being loving and emphatic.
B) Establish some rules. Ideally, you can explain the “why” behind the rules to your child if necessary. Start small, but start today. Don’t allow any negotiation around the rule. If you’re wondering what rules to establish, these are the rules we’ve set in my household. Click here to get your free download of “Family Rules”. We suggest you stick it on your fridge so that everyone understands the new laws of the household. I’ve created it in Microsoft Word so you can easily change it to accommodate your families situation.
C) Follow through - Once the rules are set, then they need to be followed. Children need some structure. If you aren’t consistent, don’t expect them to be! Make sure your kids understand the penalty for breaking the rules. You can be firm, but loving!
D) Recognize good behavior - If your child is actively trying to follow the rules and meet your high expectations, then recognize it. Everyone loves compliments and kind gestures. Now and then, sprinkle in other privileges or rewards.
Now that you know a little about Permissive Parenting let us get deeper into the definition. Check out: How to Define Permissive Parenting? Here is How!
If you’d like to learn more about Permissive Parenting and the most effective way to parent, check out this YouTube playlist made up of many of my favorite videos on this subject.