The Pros and Cons of Permissive Parenting

Permissive parenting is on the rise. The days of parental authority, boundaries, and discipline are going out fast, only to be replaced by parents who believe the best way to love their children is to let them be.

“Permissive parenting” is a misnomer, since it is not really about parenting at all. It is really about self-esteem: the child’s self-esteem is supposedly boosted by allowing him freedom, and the parent’s self-esteem is boosted by the fact that the child likes him.

Before I point out the many dangers of this kind of parenting, let me briefly outline some of the things that can be considered advantages to permissive parenting.

One advantage is that your kids will like you. You can be buddies with your children. They may even call you “cool.”

Also, permissive parenting is easier than authoritative parenting. At least at first. It is easier to just let your children do what they want than to make them obey.

Another advantage to permissive parenting is that some children may become independent. Lacking in parental leadership, some children may take the initiative and do things on their own. This develops independence.

Now let’s look at the dangers.

First, without parental control, there is chaos. Children need instruction, and they need boundaries. Babies come into this world as self-centered human beings. Without boundaries, they will run wild with no regard for others.

Your children need help making good decisions. If you child is raised in a permissive home, they will only make poor decisions when they leave the home and venture into the real world. There are rules and boundaries in the world, and children need to learn that from the start, in the safety of their own home.

Your children will lose respect for you. Sure, they might be your friend at first, but eventually they will wonder why you didn’t set boundaries for them. They will especially lose respect for the father, viewing him as weak.

They may even question your love. You may think that allowing them to do what they want will prove your love, but often children, when they get older, wonder why their parents didn’t love them enough to make rules and discipline them.

Finally, there is evidence now that permissive parenting can cause sleep disturbances. According to the Center of Advancement of Health, in a study done in October, 1997, “lax” parenting was strongly associated with sleep disturbances.

Permissive parenting, although usually done in love, is not good for the parents or the children. God gives us children to nurture, love, and raise, and setting boundaries and making rules is part of raising children who will be happy, healthy and well adjusted adults.