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The Consequences of Permissive Parenting

written by Dr. Margaret Paul May 4, 2021

Permissive parenting may temporarily look like it is working for you, but there are many long-term negative consequences for both you and your children.

You are being a permissive parent when you are compliant, indulgent or indifferent with your children. When you are being compliant, you are giving yourself up and going along with what your children want to avoid their being upset with you. When you are being indulgent, you are giving in to your children, even when you know it is not good for them – again to avoid their being upset. When you are being indifferent, you have withdrawn from being an involved parent and from being affected or concerned by your children’s behavior.

Possible Negative Consequences of Permissive Parenting – to your Child

While giving in to your child may make you feel safe from conflict in the moment, there are many short and long term negative consequences of permissive parenting.

What are the negative consequences to your child?
  • My child is demanding and disrespectful.
  • My child has no regard for others’ wants and needs.
  • My child sometimes acts like a selfish, self-centered brat.
  • My child expects others to take responsibility for him or her.
  • No matter how much I give my child, he or she is never happy. It never seems to be enough.
  • Even though I am constantly giving to my child, my child is often angry with me.
  • My child has no sense of self-discipline.
  • My child lacks self-direction.
  • My child is overly needy.
  • My child is angry.
  • My child is depressed.
  • My child expresses that he or she feels unloved.
  • Even though I think I give my child everything, he or she seems to lack a sense of self-worth.
My child does not care about his or her health and safety. Because of this, my child:
  • Smokes cigarettes
  • Drinks alcohol
  • Smokes pot
  • Uses drugs
  • Eats junk
  • Rides a motorcycle without a helmet
  • Drinks or uses drugs and drives
  • Drives recklessly
  • Has unprotected sex
  • Walks in dangerous areas

Possible Negative Consequences of Permissive Parenting – to You

What seems easier for you in the short term may not work at all for you in the long run.

What are some of the consequences to you?
  • I feel trapped and used.
  • I feel resentful.
  • My child is often angry at me.
  • My child often shuts me out.
  • Parenting is not fun. It feels like a burden.
  • I feel resentful toward my child.
  • I feel tense, anxious, angry or frustrated.
  • I feel like a failure as a parent.
  • My child and I do not have fun together.

Parenting is supposed to be a fun and fulfilling experience, which it will be when you learn to be loving with both yourself and your children.

Permissive parenting has created a generation of entitled children. These are the young adults who think they do not have to work hard to get where they want to go. Because their parents did not follow through with consequences for unacceptable behavior, these people think they can get away with mediocre effort, and are angry and demanding when they don’t get their way.

Permissive parenting often creates self-centered and irresponsible children and adults.

What To Do?

Permissive parents are often more concerned with how their children feel about them than with taking a loving care of themselves. You will continue to be compliant and indulgent with your children as long as trying to control how they feel about you is more important to you than taking responsibility for your own wellbeing.

When you decide to take responsibility for yourself – for your happiness, safety, self-worth and inner peace – you will learn how to set appropriate limits with your children. When your wellbeing is important to you, you will no longer allow your children to treat you with disrespect.

If you want to move beyond permissive parenting, it will be helpful to read parenting books and take parenting classes to learn how to be loving to yourself and to your children.

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