The Permissive Style of Parenting. Does it work well?

Welcome back to Best Case Parenting. So far on this site, we have looked at one parenting style, positive parenting. You can read that article HERE.

Today, we will look at another parenting style, permissive parenting. This article aims to spell out a clear permissive parenting definition. Also, we will give permissive parenting examples and talk about the pro’s and con’s.

We give some permissive parenting examples in this article.

What is Permissive parenting?

Before we look at the advantages and disadvantages, it is important to ask ourselves…

“What is permissive parenting? What is a permissive parenting definition?”

I am sure that a lot of you have not even heard of this term before, but after we explain it, I am sure you will have seen or experienced this permissive style of parenting.

So, What is permissive parenting? Let’s turn to our friends at Wiki first!! Their permissive parenting definition is:

…characterized as having few behavioral expectations for the child. “Indulgent parenting is a style of parenting in which parents are very involved with their children but place few demands or controls on them”.

So, to not put too finer point on it, the permissive parenting style rejects the idea that a child needs to be controlled in any way. They put the responsibility on the child to make their own choices. Some people have likened permissive parenting to being more of a friend to your child than a figure of authority.

What is permissive parenting?

How do I know if I am a Permissive Parent?

It can be hard for you to decide if you are in fact using a permissive parenting style or not. So here are some permissive parenting examples to help you decide!

The permissive parenting style often leads to parents that rarely if ever make any household rules. They allow their children to decide on a lot of what happens within the household. A permissive parent will try and avoid major arguments with their child. The permissive parenting style will allow their child to “get away” with things that they wouldn’t allow others to. It’s almost like making up a different set of rules for your child. The parent will feel that they want to be their child’s friend rather than someone to discipline and police.

If your parenting style has many of these traits, then you are properly a permissive parent!

What are the good things about Permissive Parenting?

The main good point about this style of parenting is that you should be building a good relationship with your child. In fact, the reason a lot of people end up on with permissive parenting is because they see the relationship with their child as the number one thing over everything else.

Conflict will be low in your household, as often the permissive parent will be avoiding conflict at any point.

What are the bad things about Permissive Parenting?

The main area of concern here is regarding behaviour. Young children are exceptionally smart, and as soon as they work out that everything (including rules and behaviour) can be discussed and negotiated at will, it will become very hard to get them to do what you want. In this situation, your child will continue to negotiate rather than follow what you want them to do. A lot of parents will then find themselves turning to bribing their children to do what they want. If little Johnny does this, I will treat them to this. This is not a good place to be for parents, in my opinion.

I totally agree that raising a child to have excellent communication skills is great! But parents needs to understand than when talking about behaviour and expectations, unless you want chaos, the parent needs to step in and bring some order to the situation.

The child will not be used to rules and being restricted in any way. However, when they go outside the home, they will find out that they are expected to follow rules in a lot of situations in life. Permissive parenting is not setting them up for this well and could lead to problems.

I have talked about this many times on this website, but in my opinion a young child needs some form of structure and order in their life. This will build a solid base. Their environment has a predictable element to it, where they know what will happen and what is expected of them in a wide variety of situations. With the permissive style of parenting, the behavioural boundaries and expectations are constantly moving. This leads to a lack of predictability and can be confusing for the child.

When a child gets everything they want or is used to being rewarded for following what the parent wants, this can lead to a child that is not motivated. They get so used to being externally motivated, that they start to loose their internal motivation.

As a child of a permissive parenting style, you are often not good at self discipline and self control. When you grow up with no or very little rules, it is harder to know how to hold yourself accountable too. There have even been studies showing that college students of permissive parents were more likely to abuse alcohol, for example.

We give a permissive parenting definition.

Is Permissive parenting a good idea?

I think you can see from my list of pro’s and con’s above, that the permissive style of parenting is not for me. In my opinion, parenting should be a balance. With permissive parenting, the balance seems to be too much about pleasing the child. I am not saying that you should go the opposite way and be crazily strict on a child, it needs to be a balance. You need to know when you can “be a friend” to your child and when you need to put down some rules and boundaries.

When you choose permissive parenting, you will be entering a power struggle. Your child will be an equal to the parents in your household. This will lead to a lot of time wasted on “negotiating” around behavioural situations. Time, which could be much better spent!

Why would someone choose to parent this way?

If there are so many con’s to the permissive style of parenting, why would someone go down this route. Well, often some one has had a bad experience with overly strict or authoritative parents in their childhood. The anxiety and negative feeling from this often gives the parent an over arching feeling that they don’t want this to happen to their children. It is quite easy to overdo this and end up in the permissive style of parenting. Some parents may also feel that they are doing “the best” for their child by adopting this more permissive style of parenting. This can also come from observing other parents as being too controlling and having an urge to not be like this.

The parent has the best intentions in this situation. In their eyes, for whatever reason, they feel like they are doing the best for their child. They feel like the child can grow up to make their own decisions. As a teacher, I always say “when it comes to behaviour, there is no negotiation.” Whereas the permissive style of parenting often leads to endless amounts of discussion and negotiation in all situations. The parent thinks they are raising a “mini adult” that can discuss things in length. However, when it comes to behaviour and discipline, this way doesn’t usually end well.


At the start of this article, I said we were trying to give a permissive parenting definition. To give permissive parenting examples and talk about the pro’s and con’s of this style of parenting. Hopefully, we have done this and given you some food for thought.

Parenting is a complex topic. When you bring a child into the world, it is a special thing. I can see why some parents choose the permissive parenting style, as they feel that they are simply doing the best for their child. It is a natural feeling to want to love and nurture your child in this way.

As a teacher, I have seen this from another side too. I have worked in Asia for many years, and a lot of the local parents tend to go for something relative to permissive parenting. When the children of these parents enter my class, they are surprised that they can’t just do or get whatever they want. They find it hard to follow rules and respect authority. The good news is, a well trained early years teacher can turn this situation around pretty quickly most of the time. But it does show me that a young child needs some element of authority in their life. This will add a much better balance.

In my classrooms, after a few months very little time is spent on dealing with behavioural problems. This is because the behavioural boundaries are clear, and so are the consequences if the children step outside them. This gives us more time to explore and enjoy many more fun educational activities. As a teacher, I have learned how to walk a fine line. I can have a laugh and a joke with the children in my class, I can be like a friend to them at times. But, most importantly, we know when we need to be firmer and hold the children accountable to behavioural expectations.

For me, you need the same balance in your home.

Maybe I am biased from my teaching background, and I encourage you to continue doing research on this subject. For me, the freedom of permissive parenting is not helping your child in the long run.

What is permissive parenting to you? What do you think about the permissive parenting style? We would love to hear from you in the comment section below.

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