Parenting Styles Permissive Indulgent Parents

Every parent wants to raise a happy child who has the tools to become a successful adult.  The parenting style the parent chooses to use while raising their child plays a major part in how well this parental wish comes true.

Psychologists have identified four distinct parenting styles.  They are the Authoritative, the Authoritarian, the Permissive and the Neglectful.  While each style is chosen based on personal preference and all may seem to work, some have significant negative outcomes.

The Authoritative style is probably the most commonly used parenting method and experts feel it is the most successful with most children.  Experts also feel that the Permissive or Indulgent parenting style has the most negative benefits.

The Permissive, Indulgent parent is responsive, warm, accepting and child-centered but non-demanding of their children.  These parents set nearly no restrictions or expectations on their children as far as what is acceptable behavior, what are acceptable limits and there are few or no consistently enforced consequences for inappropriate behaviors.  Experts agree that this style may work well for a shy, laid-back child it does not work for a strong-willed, assertive child.

These parents appear to share a close emotional bond with their children and believe by placing few restrictions on them they are encouraging  the child to be more responsible for their actions due to the freedom of choice they are given.  While the Permissive parent does teach their children the concepts of right and wrong, they allow the child to choose how they wish to behave without any expectation of punishment for their actions. Experts stress that often parents are giving the power of choice to children who aren’t old enough or mature enough to make proper choices.  They are, in fact, creating a generation of very spoiled children.

The Permissive parenting style may seem to work well because parents who use this style rarely have children who have temper tantrums, there are very few disagreements between parent and child and the parent and child relate to one another more as friends than as parent and child.  The parent is compliant to nearly every desire their child has, whether it involves allowing them to behave improperly in any situation or in giving in to the child’s requests for material possessions.  The parent is more concerned with their child’s happiness in the moment than with teaching them life-lessons they will need to become successful adults.  Telling a child “No” teaches them to deal with disappointment.

The article ‘The Consequences of Permissive Parenting’ stresses that while being complaint to their children and avoiding conflict at that moment parents are actually creating many short- and long-term consequences for both the parent and the child.

The child will have a higher likelihood of alcohol and drug use as a teen, poor eating habits because parents allow the child to choose what they want to eat rather than insisting on eating healthy and the child is much more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as reckless driving, unprotected sex, riding motorcycles with a helmet and other things that endanger their safety. 

Because parents seldom set limits and enforce consequences for their children relating to proper behavior and respect for others, these children often have problems developing and maintaining friendships as children and grow into adults who cannot accept limits set by high school or college professors, bosses or authority figures of any type.  The child develops a false sense of entitlement and thinks they do not have to work hard for what they want and that parents should make sure they get whatever they want with little or no effort from them.

The negatives for the parent who chooses this type of parenting style are that they are constantly in fear of earning their child’s disapproval and fear that the child will shut them out of their lives, which results in the parent feeling tense, angry and sometimes resentful toward the child.  Also, the parent will assume responsibility and feel badly if their child faces a failure of any sort and will accept the blame placed on them by the child rather than encouraging the child to accept any responsibility for their own actions.  Parents begin to feel their child does not respect them and they have no idea how to regain that respect from their overly rebellious children.

Dr. Steven Richfield encourages parents to remember the old adage “No Helps You to Grow” when parenting.  By telling your child no you are helping them to develop sufficient frustration tolerance, anger management and vital self-control.  Children need rules, expectations and consequences in order to build their character and competencies.

If the parent who has chosen the Permissive parenting style suddenly realizes they are experiencing these negative results with their child it isn’t always too late to change how they relate to the child even if they are already a teenager.  It is possible to enforce new standards and consequences as long as the parent is able to do so consistently.  Parents must realize that when making these changes they will have to expect negative emotional reactions to these new limitations from the child who has never had them before. 

“Expect and prepare for emotional reactions to “No” but don’t let the child know that you expect it.” Says Richfield.  Rather than reacting with anger to the child’s outbursts over new rules parents have to anticipate their child’s reactions and prepare verbal responses to them that exhibit what the new desired behavior will be.  He says that when a child or teen says “I hate you” or “You’re so mean” rather than getting angry the parent should respond by saying aloud“Mom, I understand I can’t always get what I want or do what I want”.  Follow this by explaining to them that this is the proper and expected response in answer to being told no. Let them know that in the future there will be consequences for failing to respond properly and then enforce the established consequence.

While caring deeply about their children and wanting them to be happy, parents have to understand that their own happiness and wellbeing is just as important as that of their child.  By being permissive and allowing their child to act in whatever manner they choose, including displaying a total lack of respect for their parents, they are actually hurting themselves.  They are sacrificing their own self-esteem, developing feelings that they aren’t worthy of happiness and that they have failed as parents.  These feelings lead them to try even harder to gain the approval of their children.

The article The Consequences of Permissive Parenting also stresses that until parents are willing to take responsibility for and place the proper value on their own happiness and inner peace they will continue to be unable to set appropriate limits for their children and enforce those limits.

The article says “When your wellbeing becomes important to you – when your happiness and inner peace matter to you – you will no longer allow your child to treat you with disrespect.  Parents can then begin to help their children grow into the successful, happy, well-adjusted adults they want them to be.