Skip to main content

What is permissive parenting? It’s not always a recipe for spoiled kids

Parenting styles have been the subject of debate many times. While agreeing to disagree about permissive parenting might be expected when discussing the role of rules and discipline, a person would have to look at many factors that affect parenting styles. Thus, looking at this manner of child-rearing might help to clarify the pros and cons if you’re looking at your own methods to determine if you and your children are on a good path toward success and healthy relationships.

What is an example of permissive parenting?

Real-world situations that exemplify permissive parenting include not setting ground rules or giving out consequences for certain behaviors. For example, a parent asks the child to clean their room, but only when it’s convenient for that child. In another scenario, a parent won’t set a bedtime for school nights even when the children have to get up early to get ready and have breakfast before leaving.

Other illustrations of permissive parenting involve the parent always sacrificing for the child’s sake. For instance, this person never rests because the child is staying up late, or the parent allows the child to constantly interrupt a conversation with another adult.


Why is permissive parenting good?

As Dr. Gwen Dewar noted in her article in Parenting Science, researchers Garcia and Gracia conducted a survey among 1416 adolescents aged 12 to 17. They inquired about parental strictness with the participants responding to statements such as “My parents give me certain jobs to do and will not let me do anything else until they are done” and “My parents make sure I know exactly what I can and cannot do.” The parents were categorized as authoritative if the teens agree with these statements and permissive if their kids disagreed. The results showed positive outcomes for the teens whose parents were less strict which included:

  • strong academic achievement
  • close social connections
  • avoidance of substance abuse or risky behavior

When looking further at factors that affected the results, Garcia and Gracia concluded that the culture and social norms of a region had a lot of bearing on child-rearing. For instance, in Spain, where the study took place, the norm is to place the good of the community above oneself. In this environment, according to Garcia, et al, permissive parenting with some degree of guidance and boundaries for the children proves to be the ideal style.

Is permissive parenting abuse?

In the legal sense, according to, permissive parenting doesn’t fit the description of abuse. Basic needs aren’t being denied, which eliminates the offense of neglect. However, if a permissive parent allows a teen to drink alcohol, even at home, this parent runs the risk of being charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

On the other hand, if that same teen is allowed by the parents to drive without a license, then the minor, not the adults would receive a penalty depending on the state in which she resides. So while this parenting style doesn’t necessarily constitute the definition of abuse, to some extent, allowing a child or teen to do something illegal could have unintended consequences.

What are the four types of parenting styles?

Aside from permissive parenting, there are three other styles that go from one extreme to another. They include:

  • the authoritative parent
  • the authoritarian parent
  • the overprotective parent

The authoritarian

The authoritarian style involves severe verbal punishment and setting extremely strict boundaries. The parent also ignores the child’s perspective and even goes so far as to berate him for expressing an opinion or not following a rule. The commonly used explanation for imposing a negative consequence is “because I told you so” without any clarification.

The authoritative parent

Not to be confused with the previously mentioned style, the authoritative style relates to setting clearly defined boundaries and having appropriate expectations while recognizing that the child may not have the emotional tools to deal with some situations and will need guidance. However, the authoritative parent also gives the child (depending on age) enough space to make mistakes and to learn from them. This parent also praises a child’s good behavior and has a tendency to listen to the child’s perspective as much as offer advice.

The overprotective parent

Lastly, the overprotective parent wants to protect the little ones from any hazard — big or small. This parent intervenes on a regular basis in school matters and extracurricular activities to prevent “failure,” disappointment, or injury (real or imagined). Plus, this parenting style includes strict rules for behavior and cleanliness, and punishment that doesn’t relate to the offense.

No two parenting styles are alike, though some might seem to have similarities. Likewise, the definition of permissive most likely differs among parents. Regardless of whether you lean more toward permissive parenting or not, being patient and willing to listen while keeping the lines of communication open will always benefit your child.

Editors' Recommendations