What Is Permissive Parenting? Definition, Pros, And Cons
By: Corrina Horne
Updated July 29, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Lauren Guilbeault
Is Permissive Parenting The Only Parenting Style?
What Is Permissive Parenting And Should I Use Permissive Parenting?
Permissive parenting is just what its name suggests: a manner of parenting in which permission is far more common than anything else. It is characterized by loose boundaries and an inability to say "no." Households which use this style might have rules, but fail or struggle to enforce them. The parents are likely to want to be their child's friend, versus acting as a consistent authority figure. Children might dictate bedtimes and family trips, among other things, and parents may suffer from exhaustion, burnout, and resentment as a result.
Authoritative parenting is the next style and, unlike permissive parenting, is known for having high demands. This form of parenting places substantial expectations on children, while also listening closely to what children want and need, to create a demanding, but the healthy environment for children. Authoritative parents usually experience more satisfaction in their parenting efforts, as they cannot only see the results of their demands but also enjoy a close relationship with their children, with open lines of communication.
Permissive parenting is the next style and is known for its low demands and easy permission. This parenting means that children are given few demands, but are given plenty of opportunities for expression and offering input. Many children find this form of parenting initially enjoyable, as parents do not place a lot of demands on them, and they are largely able to get their way. Parents might also experience initial benefits, as they can have more of a friendly parent-child relationship than in any of the other styles.
Drawbacks Of The 4 Styles: Authoritarian, Authoritative, Uninvolved, And Permissive Parenting
Authoritarian parenting can place far too many demands on children, which can leave children feeling overwhelmed and unloved. These children may grow up with large-scale ambition, but this ambition may be rooted in feelings of fear and inadequacy, and a deep-seated belief that they are not good enough. Parents who engage this style might also suffer, as constantly making demands and keeping up strict behavior requirements can grow tiring for the parent and, if children do not meet the demands, can result in large amounts of anger and resentment.
Authoritative parenting, like permissive parenting, may be considered too lax by some. It can also be difficult, as it requires parents to invest time and energy not just in the demands they place, but also in the experiences and needs of their children. Keeping a proper balance in this form of parenting can prove difficult for the whole family.
Permissive parenting is likely to demonstrate issues for parents and children both, as parents can begin to feel resentful of children making a lot of demands and never giving back, while children may begin to resent parents for not creating a clearer delineation between "parent" and "child," and may even feel like they step into the role of parent sometimes. These types of relationships can also have a negative impact on children later in life, creating feelings of anxiety and uncertainty about relationships and boundaries.
Uninvolved parenting is likely to have the greatest number of drawbacks. Parents who are not involved in their children's lives are more likely to be distant from their children later in life and might have to witness their children making unwise choices and following similar behavioral patterns to their own. This is especially difficult in cases where uninvolved parenting comes as a direct result of substance abuse or another form of addiction that causes adults to check out of their parenting responsibilities, essentially. Children with uninvolved parents often grow up to have dysfunctional relationships and are more likely to have anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders.
Authoritative parenting is typically considered the ideal parenting style of the four types. This type of parenting, unlike permissive parenting, encourages setting boundaries and encouraging children to do and be their best but also takes children's feelings and experiences into account. Authoritative parenting delineates the parent's role and the child's role while making room for open, clear communication to facilitate an appropriate adult-child relationship and encourage decision-making and confidence in children well into adulthood.
Implementing positive parenting techniques can be difficult, particularly if they are being implemented after engaging ineffective or destructive techniques beforehand, such as permissive parenting. There is no reason to avoid implementing a better parenting approach, however, as long as you step into your new role with patience, and the reasonable expectation that creating new habits takes time and a significant amount of effort.
If you find yourself engaging a new parenting technique and you are experiencing difficulty adjusting, or your child is experiencing difficulty adjusting, speaking with a qualified mental health professional can help; some therapists offer family therapies and parent therapies designed to create more effective family dynamics and communication styles, in order to provide more stability and acceptance within family structures. If engaging a new parenting technique seems daunting, or is a source of anxiety, know this: it will be difficult. Parenting is difficult. But with perseverance, determination, and-if needed-a little bit of help, you and your family can adopt a new way of looking at life and each other, and improve your parent-child relationships step by step.
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