Permissive Parenting: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Each family has its own dynamic. When it comes to the permissive parenting style, parents are usually loving and nurturing. However, they may be too lax on the rules and have no standards that they want their children to follow. This lack of rules causes children to have trouble developing self discipline.

There are other difficulties that children can have due to this style of parenting. These issues can be fundamental to the development of certain aspects of being a well rounded person. The children will be well loved but lacking in some traits that are usually found in children of other types of parenting styles.

A permissive parenting definition is that it is a kind of parenting that is characterized by much love and warmth as well as few expectations and regulations. Permissive parents are loving and nurturing, almost to a fault. This fault can be that they let their children get away with everything with little to no discipline.


In the 1960s, developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind described three main styles of parenting. She did this by observing the children of a researcher. These styles are permissive, authoritarian, and authoritative. Years later, a fourth was added after more research had been done.

The fourth, uninvolved parenting, is a style using not much warmth and little supervision. The other two styles are similar but not quite the same. Authoritarian households have very strict rules and show little warmth. Comparatively, authoritative parenting involves strict standards and ample nurturing for the child.

Authoritative parenting uses discipline and standards to keep their kids under control, whereas authoritarian households use punishment and stringent regulations. When it comes to permissive parenting, there is little to no punishment or discipline. The lack of discipline is replaced by bribery and fulfilling wants and needs when asked.


There are several different ways to know if there is a permissive household. When it comes to this style, there are many vital signs. These traits are as follows:

  • Few standards of behavior and not many rules
    • The standards these children are meant to support are virtually nonexistent. Any rules that may exist are simple and do not take much to follow.
  • Can feel more like a friend than a parent
    • Since there are little rules, the parent will become someone that the child can talk to about anything, and that is not always a good thing. Kids need their privacy, too.
  • Highly nurturing and loving
    • The best thing about this parenting style is the attention and warmth given to the child.
  • Inconsistent rules when they are in place
    • If there are rules in effect at all, they are probably going to change every once in a while. There is trouble with consistency.
  • Bribery may be used to fix misbehavior
    • When the child is acting up, the parent will bribe him with a toy or other thing that the child wants to get him to calm down.

Types of Permissiveness

There are four different ways that parent can raise their child in this manner. These four types are differentiated by the parents’ reasoning behind raising their child. Regardless of the way they go about it, permissive parenting will have effects on the child that might not be the best for them.

  • General confused
    • This consists of giving the child what he wants.
  • Compensatory
    • Used by parents who either grew up in poverty or ones that feel as if their parents were too strict.
  • Conditional permissiveness
    • With this, the child gets what he wants as long as he meets the parents’ demands. The child in this situation is often seen as a miniature adult.
  • Indifferent permissiveness
    • The parents are so caught up in their own lives that they do not take any active part in the child’s life. This is not as extreme as neglectful parenting.

Permissive Parenting Examples

  • When the child is hungry, the permissive parent will let him eat whatever he wants as a snack.
  • The parent asks if the child is ready to clean up her toys, saying that she does not have to if she does not want to.
  • The parent will ask the child if he is willing to go to bed instead of setting a consistent bed time.

Permissive Parenting Effects

Children who grow up being raised with the permissive style can have a number of problems. Some of these problems can be hard to overcome, and children do not have the guidance to do so.

  • Self discipline
    • Since there are no limits on what the child does, his discipline will be severely lacking.
  • Poor social skills
    • Since there is no demand for mature behavior, the child’s social skills will be less than ideal.
  • Insecurity
    • The lack of guidance and boundaries can cause children to feel insecure.
  • Demanding and self involved
    • Since they are used to getting what they want, children from permissive households may become demanding and believe that they are special compared to others.
  • Decision making
    • Often times, the decisions that children make are impractical and maybe even illegal.


Parents who use this style of parenting sometimes come from authoritarian households and choose to use the opposite method than with which they were raised. Others will simply be laid back types of people that take a casual approach to their parenting. The structure will not be high on their list.

Some parents will want to be a friend to their children more than anything else. This train of thought leads to lack of parental controls, and this will hinder that relationship and will make it uncomfortable if the parent ever decides to be a parent.

According to Baumrind, 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.” Her research is still relevant today as it becomes easier to test these kinds of things.

Permissive parenting allows children to be the boss, and that is not usually a good thing. The parent does not accept responsibility for the actions of their children and is often supportive when the situation does not call for it. The idea of sharing may be foreign to the child even though he is good at interpersonal skills.

In a recent study, it has been found that permissive parenting is linked to underage alcohol use. It also suggests that it is linked to other risky behaviors such as drug use and overall misconduct. The lack of boundaries may cause children to be unruly, and academics will not be much of a motivator for them.

Overall, this style of parenting is not always the best way to go. Even though it may not seem so, children need discipline and rules to become successful adults. They might have issues later on in life because they have unnecessarily been spoiled.

The most effective form of parenting is usually authoritative. It has the strictness that children need as well as the parental warmth and nurturing they need to be happy and loved. The permissive method has the love but none of the structure and discipline that authoritative parenting provides

The Long-Term Effects of Permissive Parenting on Children’s Development

Permissive parenting is often characterized by a lack of structure, discipline, and rules, which may lead to immediate benefits such as feeling loved and nurtured. However, the long-term effects on children’s development may not be as positive. Children raised with permissive parenting may struggle with self-discipline, social skills, decision-making, and may even become demanding and self-involved. Insecurity may also be an issue since the lack of guidance and boundaries can leave children feeling uncertain about their place in the world.

Moreover, the lack of boundaries may cause children to engage in risky behaviors, such as drug and alcohol use, and lead to academic underachievement. Children may struggle to find motivation, and their lack of self-discipline may hinder their ability to succeed in life. Permissive parenting may also limit a child’s ability to take responsibility for their actions, as the child may grow up with a sense of entitlement and a lack of accountability.

In the long run, permissive parenting may not be the best approach to raising successful and well-rounded individuals. While it is important to show love and affection, children also need structure, boundaries, and discipline to thrive.

Permissive parenting and helicopter parenting are two seemingly different styles of raising children, but they may share some similarities. Permissive parenting is characterized by a lack of rules and boundaries, while helicopter parenting involves over-involvement in children’s lives, often micromanaging every aspect. Both approaches can lead to children lacking independence and self-sufficiency.

When children are raised in permissive environments, they may struggle with self-discipline, decision-making, and social skills, which can ultimately hinder their ability to become independent adults. Children who grow up with helicopter parenting may experience similar challenges since their parents are often over-involved and do not allow them to develop independence.

Both permissive and helicopter parenting may also lead to children who lack accountability and responsibility for their actions. In the case of permissive parenting, the lack of structure and boundaries may cause children to believe that they can do whatever they want without consequences. With helicopter parenting, parents may shield their children from negative experiences and not allow them to learn from their mistakes.