Permissive Parenting: Harmful Or Harmless?

Parents Walking Son to School

Recent news of Willow Smith getting her tongue pierced has the pop culture buzzing about the appropriateness of particular actions in children, as well as how much authority parents should have in such matters.

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But the real question behind this issue is, or should be, whether or not more permissive styles of parenting are helpful or harmful to a child’s development.

 What is Permissive Parenting?

Permissive parenting is sometimes known as indulgent parenting. Parents who exhibit this style make relatively few demands upon their children. Because these parents have low expectations for self-control and maturity, they rarely discipline their children.

According to experts, permissive parents “are more responsive than they are demanding. They are nontraditional and lenient, do not require mature behavior, allow considerable self-regulation, and avoid confrontation.”

Permissive parents tend to:

  • Have few rules or standards of behavior
  • When there are rules, they are often very inconsistent
  • Are usually very nurturing and loving towards their kids
  • Often seem more like a friend, rather than a parent.
  • May use bribery such as toys, gifts and food as a means to get child to behave

The Effects of Permissive Parenting

Children raised by permissive parents tend to:

  • Lack self-discipline
  • Sometimes have poor social skills
  • Be self-involved and demanding
  • Feel insecure due to the lack of boundaries and guidance

Permissive Parenting: Dangerous Consequences

In a recent study, permissive parenting was linked to underage alcohol use; teens with permissive parents were three times more likely to engage in heavy drinking. Researchers also suggest that permissive parenting is linked to other risky behaviors such as drug use and other forms of misconduct.

Because permissive parenting involves a lack of demands and expectations, children raised by parents with this style tend to grow up without a strong sense of self-discipline. They may be more unruly in school due to the lack of boundaries in the home, and may be less academically motivated than many of their peers.

Since these parents have few requirements for mature behavior, children may lack skills in social settings. While they may be good at interpersonal communication, they lack other important skills such as sharing.

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