Am I a Permissive Parent?

About twenty years ago, I had a client mom that I really liked.  

She was a single mom of an adoptive daughter, a little older than her peers, very rich, and a very permissive parent.

She did not set out to be a permissive parent, but parenting on her own, and with no support group of relatives or friends, she quickly fell into the trap of believing that if she were simply loving, her child would reciprocate in kind with love, respect, and good behavior.

I watched her child’s growth through her elementary years and into middle and high school, with mom continuing her permissive parenting style.

It was clear that mom was in a permissive parenting trap of her own making.  It was the only approach to parenting she knew, and the only type her child had ever experienced.  By the time I was working with them, they were on a downward spiral.

At the end of this blog, I will tell you how things turned out for mother and daughter.


Parents who use a permissive parenting style are not unloving, uncaring people.  In fact, it is very much the opposite-they really love their children.

However, they are ineffective parents.

Permissive parents are usually very loving, yet provide little structure. Permissive parents are lax in setting standards of behavior for their child,  and often take the path of least resistance by becoming a friend rather than a parental figure.

In its most embarrassing form, the permissive parent will seek to act like their child- dad will wish to act like a fraternity brother; mom will dress younger than her age to fit in with her daughter and her friends.

One Dozen Characteristics of the Permissive Parenting Style?

Permissive parents set few rules for their child to follow.

Permissive parents are often very inconsistent in executing the rules

Permissive parents are immature themselves and may be somewhat self-centered.

Permissive parents are more comfortable in being a friend, rather than a parent.

Permissive parents are often the product of a permissive parenting style themselves.

Permissive parents often use bribery in order to win their child’s affection and behavior.

Permissive parents offer little structure in terms of environment, bedtimes, and so on.

Permissive parents believe it is important to “ just let kids be kids”.

Permissive parents are difficult for teachers as they will support their child no matter what.

Permissive parents often view their child as a co-parent supervising younger siblings.

Permissive parents rarely enforce any type of consequences and avoid doing so at all costs.

Permissive parents would rather be liked than upset the child.

The Destructive Impact of Permissive Parenting

  • laughing-kidsChildren raised by permissive parents often lack self-discipline because they have never been asked to behave.
  • Children raised by permissive parents have weak social skills, may be self-involved and demanding, and may feel insecure due to the lack of boundaries and guidance.
  • Children raised by permissive parents often are underachievers because the expectations of them are low.
  • Children raised by permissive parents have poor problem-solving skills because they are never asked to develop them.
  • Children raised by permissive parents often struggle when faced with situations that are highly charged as their skills are underdeveloped.
  • Children raised by permissive parents are more likely to engage in behavior that is not in their best interests because there have never been consequences.
  • Children raised by permissive parents may be more likely to bully others in school. They often appear more mature than peers, and they can become the Queen Bee for a time.
  • Children raised by permissive parents have underdeveloped personal health and wellness habits because of a home environment that often lacks structure.

A good example of permissive parenting is the case of a young adult whose lawyer used a “ diminished sense of responsibility due to his wealth, pampered childhood, and absentee parenting” as his defense.

Why do parents use the permissive parenting style?

  • Permissive Parents fear a lack of love.

This likely is a result of the parents own family history.  At least one of a child’s parents are likely to have raised by a permissive parent or lived in a family where love was often absent.

In order to be loved, a permissive parent overcompensates to please the child;  It’s a parent-centered strategy designed to meet the parent’s need for love.

  • Permissive Parents may often be too immature to parent and need time to grow themselves.  Such parents may believe that they were forced into parenting before they were ready, and are reluctant to limit their children’s own freedom through rules.
  • Permissive Parents fear conflict and are conflict avoidance.  They seek a quiet and happy family existence, and will often go to great lengths to avoid anything that will upset the family dynamics.  Parenting becomes about the parent and not the child.

How Do Permissive Parents Change Their Parenting Style?

son-fatherIt is not easy for many parents to shift from the permissive parenting style once the habits become ingrained.  However, it can be done.

What permissive parents need more than anything is a plan moving forward.

This is where Confident Parenting can help.

At Confident Parenting, we help you to take back your family.

At Confident Parenting, we aid you in developing a plan for the future.

At Confident Parenting, we mentor you every step of the way.

At Confident Parenting, we do not blame and shame-ever!

So what happened to our mother and daughter?

At 14, the daughter demanded a very fancy ballroom birthday party with no adult chaperones!

As you can imagine, this stirred up a hornet’s nest amongst other parents that were aghast at the suggestion,

Eventually, mom came up with a solution that parents only discovered too late when they left off their child at the party.

There were adult chaperones….. eight young men and women models, scantily clothed and one step up from needing to chaperone themselves!

By age 16, the girl’s academic performance was in decline, and her behavior was more high risk.

For this child, the permissive style of parenting had not worked.

There are different styles to try.  Call us at Confident Parenting, and we can talk.