With so many different parenting styles, how can you know which you emulate best? The following is a look at what it means to be a permissive parent.
Permissive parents believe that loving their child is the biggest priority for parenting. They take the approach to parenting of showing their child love, and feeling loved, in return, supersedes everything else, including discipline and limits. This often means that they avoid conflict, and their children are allowed to get away with just about anything as long as they know they are loved. While this often results in a strong bond between child and parent, this bond is typically more of a peer to peer bond than that appropriate of parent child relationships.
Usually permissive parents, while trying to do what is right by their children, have few if any rules, and they are fairly inconsistent at enforcing said rules. Instead of setting boundaries and expecting certain behaviors from their children because that is what is appropriate, they resort to bribes, gifts, and motivators to get their child to do what they ask. This means that the kid does not do chores etc. because they are expected to, or because their parent asks, but because they expect a reward in return.
While bribing can be very effective, it often leads to feelings of entitlement. A child will never learn to perform basic tasks because they need to, but rather because they get something. They do not feel the need to earn stuff, rather they feel like they should get it for doing basic things.
One of the main problems with this parenting approach is that it often backfires. Children need to have rules and limits in order to feel loved. They have to feel like you acre enough to set healthy limits, expectations, and appropriate behavior expectations. In order to feel valued and cared for, children need rules. This means that permissive parents often raise children who have low self esteem. Why? Because no one wanted to have conflict, and thus they never asked questions with potentially conflicting answers. For example, their parents may have never asked about their grades or helped them with homework because the parent did not want to have a reason to be upset with the child. If the situation were to get out of control, let’s say the child was flunking out of school, if the parent did try to then take interest or assert some discipline, the child is more likely to rebel against it or manipulate the parent. This usually has poor results. The child feels uncared for because the parent caved in, and the parent feels taken for granted and may become resentful.
The biggest problem with permissive parenting is that because their goal is to be a friend, rather than a parent, they are easily replaced by their child’s school peers. This often means that they feel angry.
All in all, while it is important to show children love, it is just as important to set limitations and expectations of your child. You want them to participate in the family unit, and learn discipline. If you were to exclusively follow a permissive parenting style, your child would likely grow into an adult with little sense of self, no discipline, very few real connections socially, and will be at a disadvantage as adults because they basically have to parent themselves. So, if you think love should be the focus of your parenting style, that is great, but remember, if you do not combine it with rules and limitations, your child may grow to resent you, or simply replace you with their friends.