Permissive Parenting: The Pros and Cons (According to 10+ Parenting Experts)

Many parents need help finding the right balance between being not too strict and not too permissive with their children.

However, some people say that permissive parenting is the best way to raise kids, while others believe it can have negative consequences. But what is permissive parenting, and what are the pros and cons of this approach?

Below are insights from parenting experts, along with tips for parents who are considering this parenting style:

Brynne Angelle, LCSW, PMH-C

Brynne Angelle

Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Lafayette, LA Counseling

When it comes to parenting styles, there are four that are generally recognized: authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, and neglectful. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, and choosing one will ultimately be up to you and your unique parenting philosophy.

We’ll take a closer look at the permissive parenting style — what it is, what its benefits are, and how you can make it work for your family.

What is permissive parenting?

Permissive parenting is a relatively lax approach to child-rearing that emphasizes unconditional love and understanding. Permissive parents are typically non-punitive and non-authoritative, instead opting to let their children make their own decisions and learn from their own mistakes.

This parenting style is also sometimes referred to as “indulgent” or “nurturant” parenting.

While the permissive parenting style certainly has its detractors, there are also a number of benefits associated with this approach to child-rearing.

These benefits include:

Pro: Increased self-esteem

Because permissive parents emphasize warmth and understanding over disciplinary tactics, children who are raised in this manner often have high self-esteem. They feel loved and valued by their parents, which leads to increased confidence in themselves and their abilities.

Related: Why is Self Esteem Important?

Pro: Greater independence

Another benefit of the permissive parenting style is that it often leads to increased independence in children.

Because permissive parents allow their kids more freedom to make their own choices, these kids learn how to think for themselves and make decisions independently.

Pro: Improved communication skills

Finally, the permissive parenting style can also lead to improved communication skills in children. Because permissive parents tend to be more responsive than authoritarian ones, kids who are raised in this way learn how to express their needs and wants effectively.

They’re also more likely to listen attentively when others are speaking since they know that their opinions will be respected.

Of course, no parenting style is perfect, and permissive parenting has its fair share of drawbacks.

Con: Difficulty following rules

One potential downside is that kids who are raised in permissive households may have difficulty following rules or complying with authority figures (such as teachers or bosses).

This is because they’re used to getting their way at home and may not have experience dealing with disappointment or frustration.

Con: They become spoiled or entitled

Additionally, some experts believe that permissive parenting can lead to children who are spoiled or entitled.

Because they’re not used to hearing the word “no,” these kids may expect everything to go their way — and they may not know how to handle it when things don’t go as planned.

Finally, permissive parenting may make it difficult for parents to set limits on their children’s behavior. If you’re not used to saying “no,” it can be tough to start setting boundaries later on down the road.

How to be a permissive parent

If you’re interested in adopting the permissive parenting style with your own children, there are a few key things you’ll need to keep in mind.

Remember that if you do decide to go the permissive route, it’s important to focus on the following:

  • Being responsive rather than directive
  • Giving your kids choices whenever possible
  • Setting clear limits and boundaries
  • Being consistent in your approach

You should also avoid using physical punishment as a form of discipline since this goes against the core tenets of the permissive parenting style.

If you can keep these things in mind, you’ll be well on your way to being a successful permissive parent.

The permissive parenting style isn’t for everyone — but it does have its own unique set of benefits that might make it worth considering if you’re on the fence about what approach to take with your own children.

Sari Beth Goodman, M.A.

Sari Beth Goodman

Certified Parent Educator and Coach, The Parental Edge LLC

Pro: Promotes critical thinking

Parents who encourage their children to use what they know about past experiences, recognize cause and effect, use trial and error, and learn from mistakes when making decisions and solving problems are helping them develop critical thinking skills.

Related: Why is Critical Thinking Important?

Pro: Promotes autonomy and self-regulation

Parents who encourage their children to be self-confident decision-makers and self-sufficient are developing their children’s sense of independence.

These parents don’t rush in to solve every problem. They allow their children to try out solutions, regulate their own behaviors and emotions, and make mistakes. Parents see mistakes and obstacles as opportunities for learning.

Pro: Promotes individuality

Parents who encourage their children to follow their paths and create their own philosophies of life are developing their children’s sense of individuality. They allow their children to view rules as negotiable and voice their own opinions.

Pro: Parents are facilitators

Parents following this style of parenting are viewed as facilitators who provide guidance instead of set rules. Parents offer their children myriad experiences and join in the excitement of new discoveries and understandings.

Con: Children resist rules in other environments

The rules that children of permissive parents believe are negotiable find that this is not so in other environments. These children are often shocked to discover that the rules at school, on sports teams, in movie theaters, and even at their grandparents’ house are not negotiable.

Children who enter these environments are also expected to know, understand, and follow social norms.

Con: It can exhibit avoidance of open-ended experiences in children

Children raised with this parenting style can exhibit anxiety and avoidance of open-ended experiences:

  • Children who experience a lot of “error” with the trial and error method of problem-solving can become timid and lack self-confidence.
  • Children may be exhausted from the energy required to solve problems and make many choices and decisions.
  • Children may lack motivation and curiosity for experiences that are new to avoid having to put in the effort involved in figuring out a situation and for fear of making mistakes.
  • Children get overwhelmed with the expectations of finding their own path, so they limit themselves to safe experiences and avoid novelty and experimentation.

Related: How to Motivate a Child Who Is Unmotivated

Con: Parents may become manipulators instead of facilitators

When parents see their children headed for conflict or struggle, they hesitate to give up the permissive philosophy by telling their children what to do.

Instead of giving their children directions, parents find ways to lead them to a specific choice or solution by offering strong suggestions, rewards for a certain path, or blocking some options they feel are wrong.

Rather than being permissive, parents unintentionally become manipulative. In reality, confident parents who favor a permissive parenting style know it is OK to use a mix of other styles when appropriate for the child’s age and the circumstances.

Colleen Wenner-Foy​, MA. LCMHC-S, LPC, MCAP​

Colleen Wenner-Foy

Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor | Founder and Clinical Director, New Heights Counseling and Consulting LLC

In my opinion, permissive parenting has a lot more drawbacks than benefits to promote this style of parenting.

Con: It develops unhealthy family relationships

When parents give in to their child’s demands, they often become dependent on them. They lose control over their own lives and let their children take charge.

The permissive parenting model avoids conflict because there is no clear authority figure. Parents may experience an underlining feeling of being taken advantage of and resentful towards their children.

Con: It fails to teach the value of a disciplined lifestyle

Instilling good habits in children takes time and effort. Children need to learn that they must work hard for what they want.

Children who grow up under permissive parenting models tend to believe that rules aren’t necessary. They also think that adults should always bend to their wishes. These attitudes can cause problems later in adulthood.

If you don’t set boundaries or enforce discipline and consequences, your child will not respect them either.

Con: It promotes a lack of structure and routine

Permissive parenting overlooks the fact that children thrive off of routine. Children like knowing what to expect daily; they can build a healthy sense of independence by accomplishing these tasks and routines.

When parents let their kids do whatever they please without setting limits, they lose control over them.

Con: Leads to poor decision-making skills and low self-esteem

When permissive parents allow their children to do as they please, they give them too much power. This can lead to not fully understanding the ramifications of good and bad choices and poor judgment.

A child who grows up under this parenting model tends to feel entitled and thinks they deserve everything they want. They become selfish and unable to handle disappointment. And when challenged, they are likely to lash out at others.

Related: How to Improve Your Self-Esteem – The Ultimate Guide

Con: Lack of emotional connection

When parents fail to provide guidance and direction, they leave their children confused and unguided. They don’t understand why things happen and don’t know how to deal with difficult situations.

Children can feel isolated and alone. They struggle to find meaning in their lives and develop strong bonds with other people.

Con: It doesn’t prepare children for real life

Permissive parenting teaches children they can get away with or get whatever they want. It encourages them to be lazy and irresponsible as they expect others to pick up the slack.

But if you’re going to live in the real world, you must make sacrifices and put forth some effort. You cannot just sit back and wait for someone else to come along and help you.


Permissive parenting is a parenting style where parents, who believe they’re supportive, allow their children to make their own decisions and do as they please. It’s a parenting approach that promotes laziness and irresponsibility.

Permissive parents tend to neglect their children’s needs and focus more on their wants. The focus is not on instilling values and morals in their children; parents encourage them to do whatever they want.

I believe there are healthier ways to parent and provide a safe environment for children to explore and develop their personalities.

Ellie Borden, BA, RP, PCC

Ellie Borden

Registered Psychotherapist | Certified Life Coach | Clinical Director, Mind By Design

Pro: Self-expression, feeling supported and accepted

Identifying the pros of permissive parenting is like looking for a needle in a haystack. I say this because the odds of a successful future and a realistic life outlook for children raised this way are minuscule.

However, at certain ages and in certain personality types, the pros could be:

  • Creative self-exploration
  • Recognizing opportunities
  • Taking risks for said opportunities
  • Openness
  • Self-expression
  • Feeling supported and accepted
  • Enjoying interesting and unconventional life experiences

If the child is an adolescent that has established a well-routed moral compass, is well-behaved, respectful, and understands boundaries, then permissive parenting at that stage may allow the adolescent the freedom to discover who they are truly meant to be.

There are no pros of permissive parenting in children under the age of 16 or adolescents older than 16 who already have behavioral or high-risk behavior.

Con: Age-specific negatives

Permissive parenting is a recipe for disaster for young children and toddlers. It is a heavy burden, unfair to the child and parent, and very confusing to give a young child a free pass.

This could have significant repercussions on their brain development, academic performance, ability to empathize and show compassion, and robs them of the tools and guidance they need to start developing early stages of emotional intelligence.

At a very early age, children need to learn how not only to identify what emotions they are experiencing but also how to regulate them. Permissive parenting does not help them with this but instead sabotages them.

Con: Children don’t see the need to strive for higher academic goals

One major con of permissive parenting is raising children with unrealistic life expectations. Never needing to follow the rules, be mindful of boundaries, strive for higher academic goals, or ever really being challenged, programs a child to believe everything in life is rainbows and cotton candy.

If you always get your way, then when something doesn’t go your way, you may feel victimized, riddled with anxiety, become insecure, and develop significant mental health concerns like depression, OCD, low self-esteem, and more.

Related: How to Help Your Child With Anxiety – Using the Parental Intelligence Way

Con: Children lack resiliency with daily life challenges

Another major con is the lack of resiliency that children raised with permissive parenting experience. It is difficult for these children to cope with minor stressors, daily life challenges, relationships, friendships, co-workers, etc.

A big part of building character is knowing that problems will arise and learning how to manage these problems/challenges.

Further, it is challenging to develop confidence and belief in one’s abilities if they are never given the opportunity to overcome them independently. Thus, these children grow up feeling inadequate, targeted, and less than.

Con: Children will engage in risky behavior early on

Other cons are the likelihood for these children to engage in risky behavior early on, be disorganized, feel overwhelmed with everyday tasks, and abuse substances to try to feel relief when everything gets too much to bear.

Con: Children lack emotional intelligence

Lastly, children raised with permissive parenting lack emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is the key to success in life, relationships, career, and life fulfillment. Without EI, life will be an uphill battle with a road filled with bumps, curves, unexpected falling trees, and potholes.

Robyn Rausch, LPC-S, RPT-S

Robyn Rausch

Registered Play Therapist Supervisor | Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor, Calming Communities

Pro: It can promote positive self-worth and positive family memories

Permissive parenting is one of those technical terms that the public has taken and misconstrued at times.

When mental health professionals talk about permissive parenting, we are referring to an extreme type of parenting that involves very little oversight or structure in a child’s life.

Permissive parenting doesn’t involve punishment

But when most people call something permissive, they simply refer to something less strict than they would be or prefer. A prime example is a style of parenting called gentle parenting.

Gentle parenting focuses on staying calm and connected to your child no matter what, so when they do something wrong, you can calmly explain to them the problem and seek solutions together rather than punishing them.

When done well, gentle parenting includes structure, routine, expectations, and natural consequences, which is why it’s not actually what a specialist would call permissive parenting. Still, many people believe it is permissive simply because it does not involve punishment.

True permissive parenting is inconsistent and unstructured. Parents over-share their own emotions and experiences with their children to the point of causing the child distress.

They often give a child an expectation such as working hard in school, but if the child gets a zero because they simply didn’t do it (a clear sign of not working hard), the parent may make excuses and not apply any logical consequence.

They may even shield the child from natural consequences such as being forced to make it up in detention.

Why parents do permissive parenting

Parents who use permissive parenting typically do not think they are doing it. They would simply say things like, “It wasn’t worth the battle,” or “It already happened, and they can’t change it now.”

These parents are loving and supportive parents who are genuinely doing their best to help their child accept the human nature mistakes they make and do not become overly critical of themselves.

Many of these parents experienced overly strict parenting themselves and knew exactly how damaging it could be to a child’s self-worth.

Related: If I Could Have a Parenting Do-Over

They also may remember the constant conflict at home and never feeling excited to come home to their family. They simply want their adult home to be a positive place that is full of fun and laughter.

The goal in their mind is to protect their child’s self-worth and family relationships, not to be permissive; permissiveness is just a side effect.

Positive self-worth and positive family memories are real pros of permissive parenting. Children often have more playful memories and enjoy being at home. As adults, they often have strong coping skills for mistakes and easily recover and move on after failure.

Mental health professionals do not recommend permissive parenting

Do mental health professionals recommend permissive parenting? The answer is a clear no.

While the two benefits above may occur, there are many more cons than pros. Permissive parenting is as detrimental to a child’s mental and emotional health as strict parenting.

Con: It can result in insecure attachments

Both permissive and strict parenting result in insecure attachments, which mean children struggle with healthy relationships throughout their life.

Con: Kids struggle to rely on others

Children of permissive parenting struggle to trust others or rely on them. They frequently self-sabotage relationships by pushing people away when they feel dependent on them.

Con: Kids struggle with social skills

They also struggle with social skills, such as repairing conflict within a relationship, because they’ve learned to just wait for it to pass rather than having to endure logical consequences.

Con: It can result in chronic anxiety

Permissive parenting also often results in chronic anxiety. When their caregiver is not creating structured expectations and natural consequences, they feel that the world is unpredictable.

They do not know what people expect or how they will react because it was not role modeled or experienced at home. Children are inherently vulnerable and need to feel like someone has control of what is going on.

When their parent does not have consistent expectations and consequences for their behavior, children tend to feel the parent does not have control, so no one has control, and that feels unsafe.

Con: Poor problem-solving skills

Finally, permissive parenting simply does not translate well to the real world. Children go to school and extracurriculars, where they get very different messages about what happens when they make mistakes.

While permissive parenting says we will talk about it for a moment, and then it goes away, the rest of the world expects you to do something to fix the problem and not repeat the mistake.

Children who do not learn this at home cannot use problem-solving skills in the real world to fix mistakes.

As a parent, be authentic to yourself and exercise a slight balance of structure and freedom

Parenting is like anything else in human life; moderation is key.

First, every child needs a slightly different balance of structure and freedom. Too much structure is being overly strict, but too much freedom is permissive.

There is no one size fits all approach, so the best thing to do is to be authentic to yourself as a parent and when you see the child’s behavior is not changing, add a little freedom or a little more structure.

Some great places to start are books such as “No Drama Discipline” by Dan Siegel and “Brain-Body Parenting” by Mona Delahooke. But, as these books will inform you, you will need to tweak the approaches to better fit each of your children’s needs.

Related: 19 Best Parenting Books (to Read in 2022)

Michele Tripple

Michele Tripple

Degree in Marriage and Family Studies | Family Life Educator and Owner, Confessions of Parenting

Permissive parenting is a combination of low expectations and high levels of responsiveness and acceptance. This kind of parent loves their children so much that they have a hard time putting them through the pain of disciplinary experiences.

Discipline tends to be inconsistent, and rules are not always enforced in a permissive type of home, as freedom for the kids is emphasized more often than learning responsibility.

There are both pros and cons to this parenting style, as children tend to do better with high levels of responsiveness combined with high expectations.

Because children need high levels of responsiveness and acceptance, permissive parents are already winning half of the parenting job.

Pros of permissive parenting include:

  • Greater autonomy
  • Resourcefulness
  • Creativity and openness to exploration

Let’s break these pros down.

Pro: Greater autonomy

Permissive parents tend to allow kids to act on their own thoughts and conscience as they believe kids should be free to be who they are. This leads kids to take charge of doing many things on their own. Often, they are included in making major decisions in the family.

This parenting style can be beneficial for kids who are naturally ambitious, like to learn on their own terms, and need to feel their voice is important and of value.

Pro: Resourcefulness

Because kids of permissive parents have more freedom to act of their own free will, they tend to be more resourceful than their peers who were raised by parents of authoritative and authoritarian parenting styles.

This can become an advantage to kids who are curious and naturally want to achieve. They will know how to achieve because they were given the freedom to explore their resources.

Pro: Creativity and openness to exploration

Exploration and creativity come naturally to children. They are curious about the world around them and are constantly trying to learn and make sense of it. With permissive parenting, there can be a means to no end when it comes to these two key elements.

Children are free to draw, paint, and act on what they are feeling inside themselves. They are also free to explore what they are interested in without heavy limitations. For kids who are naturally artistic and curious, this parenting style could encourage them in their abilities.

While there are pros to high responsiveness in parenting, there are cons to having low expectations for a child’s behavior.

Cons of permissive parenting include the following:

  • Difficulty in developing self-control.
  • Lack of social skills and time management skills.
  • Struggling to achieve something.
  • They may also become demanding.

Below is a breakdown of the cons of permissive parenting.

Con: Lack of self-control

Discipline, though painful at the moment, can help lead kids toward mastering their impulsive and aggressive behaviors.

Children of permissive parents tend to lack this kind of discipline and may be the first to whine, cry or throw a tantrum when things don’t go their way, or they are asked to do something they aren’t normally held accountable for.

Con: Lack of social skills

Permissive parents tend to be protective of their children when it comes to dealing with painful experiences. When children don’t have these experiences of learning to listen to authoritative figures and being challenged to do hard things, they find difficulty in relating to their peers.

Con: Kids become demanding

A child who is given too much autonomy may feel that they are in charge of themselves and their parents.

For example, children may tell their parents to get them a cookie several times a day because they know if they push hard enough, the parent will give them what they want.

Con: Lack of time management abilities

Because kids of permissive parents are used to doing what they want when they want, they struggle to develop time management skills. They aren’t used to being under pressure to accomplish anything in particular, so they carry on however they like.

Related: 42 Best Productivity and Time Management Books (in 2022)

Con: Kids struggle to excel

When parents do not have high expectations for their children, it is understandable why their children may not have high expectations for themselves.

Typically, kids with permissive parents may have difficulty achieving in many areas of life.

This may include but is not limited to the following:

  • School
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Life skills
  • Job experiences

Bryana Kappadakunnel, LMFT, IFECMHS, PMH-C

Bryana Kappadakunnel

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist | CEO and Founder, Conscious Mommy, LLC

Con: Permissive parenting can end up being disorganizing as a home environment

Permissive parenting is a term psychologists use to explain the spectrum of parenting.

On one end, you have the authoritarian parent: often characterized by a cold demeanor, lack of empathy, overly strict, rigid, and controlling.

In the middle, you have the gold standard of parenting, the authoritative parent: think the Mary Poppins of parenting. Warm in tone but firm with boundaries. Gentle in approach but clear in communication and direction.

This style of parenting is well-researched and has proven to support many positive outcomes for the child’s development.

On the other end of the spectrum is permissive parenting.

Permissive parents lead with the intention of being warm, kind, gentle, loving, and respectful toward the child. In fact, permissive parenting can often make us overindulgent in the child’s emotional life, so much so that we avoid setting limits and boundaries out of fear of how the child may react.

Related: Signs of Over-Indulgent Parents: Consequences and Dangers to the Growing Child

This doesn’t support the child’s development, as permissive parenting does not hold the child accountable for how they behave.

Permissive parenting permits children to run the household, often increasing anxiety and general chaos for the child. Nor does it help parents feel like they are leaders in their own home.

Children long to have leaders and guides to help them navigate the challenges of everyday living, yet permissive parenting often makes parents feel the need to hover over the child.

Hovering sends the wrong message. When we hover, we tell the child, “I don’t trust you,” to which the child concludes, “I am not trustworthy.”

Permissive parenting often comes out of wanting to “do it differently”‘ from how we were raised, especially if we were raised in overly strict, emotionally avoidant, potentially physically abusive authoritarian environments.

Related: 30+ Signs of Emotionally Abusive Parents (According to 10 Experts)

So the heart is there: permissive parents want to break the cycle of being overly controlling by becoming so lax with limits and boundaries that it ends up being just as disorganizing as a home environment.

With support, permissive parents can swing the pendulum back to the authoritative style of parenting, one that helps the parent to be aware of their own hang-ups around discipline and emotions while overcoming their fears of letting go and trusting the child.

Becca Smith, LPC

Becca Smith

Chief Clinical Officer, Basepoint Academy

Permissive parenting, also known as indulgent or non-directive parenting, is characterized by a lack of rules, structure, and consistency. Instead, permissive parents are highly nurturing and responsive to their child’s desires.

Unfortunately, this parenting style often leads to children who lack self-discipline and struggle with problem-solving skills.

Pros of permissive parenting

Because this child-rearing style is highly nurturing, it can result in a strong parent-child bond and a positive self-image for the child.

Children who are able to get the support they need and the freedom to make their own decisions may grow up to be independent and self-confident adults. But these will only be short-term benefits as the lack of structure and discipline can lead to long-term problems.

Limitations of permissive parenting

Without clear limits and guidelines, children may struggle with self-regulation, social skills, and problem-solving. This makes it harder for them to adapt to academic or social environments where rules and discipline are necessary.

Related: Why are Social Skills Important?

Permissive parenting can also lead to a sense of entitlement and spoiled behavior in children. And because the child had not been taught to respect and follow the rules, they may struggle with authority figures and have difficulty in adulthood.

Studies show that permissive parenting is associated with increased alcohol and drug use in teens, mainly due to a lack of clear boundaries and parental guidance.

Bottom line

Parents must provide a balance of warmth, support, and structure to raise well-rounded, responsible individuals.

It may be beneficial for parents to seek guidance from mental health professionals or parenting classes if they struggle with setting effective boundaries and establishing discipline.

With the right guidance, they can find the best strategies to promote the child’s well-being and their own. Remember that parenting style can directly affect a child’s development because it sets the foundation for future relationships and behaviors.

Amy Smith

Amy Smith

Co-Founder, AmyandRose

The term “permissive parenting” is often used in the media as a catch-all phrase for any child-rearing that doesn’t involve traditional discipline or parenting at all!

While this may be true in some cases, other ways of raising children can be just as effective (or ineffective) as permissive parenting.

Many parents who call themselves “permissive” aren’t doing anything different from what they would do if their children were raised with no structure.

Pro: It’s easy

You can raise kids without rules, boundaries, schedules, or consequences. This sounds great on paper, but it means you won’t know whether your kid has learned anything until he hits puberty and starts acting out.

Pro: Your kids will be independent

If you let them run wild, they will learn to rely on themselves for everything. But if you set limits and teach them responsibility, they will become self-sufficient adults.

Pro: You can do anything

When you give your kids free rein to explore every interest, you ensure they develop an inquisitive nature. But when you limit their options, you help them focus on one thing at a time.

Pro: You can focus on yourself

You don t have to worry about finding childcare or paying bills. That frees you up to pursue hobbies or volunteer activities that you love.

Con: Your kids might not learn responsibility

If you don’t set limits and enforce consequences, your kids might not realize that they should use good judgment.

Con: You may lose control over them

If you allow your kids to run around unsupervised, you could spend most of your day chasing after them.

Con: You could make bad decisions

You might decide to join them when you don’t know where your kids are or what they’re doing. Or you might let them watch inappropriate movies or play violent video games.

Con: You could become depressed

Too much freedom can cause you to lose motivation. Plus, if you don’t plan, you may spend all your time caring for your kids instead of pursuing your interests.

Con: You could end up with an empty nest

If you don’t prepare now, you could wind up with nothing to show for your efforts once your children leave home.

Con: Your kids might turn into unstable adults

If your kids don’t learn how to manage their emotions and control their impulses, they could become emotionally unstable adults.

Con: Your kids could grow up without values

If you don’t teach them right from wrong, they could start making bad decisions without realizing their impact on other people.

AJ Silberman-Moffitt

AJ Silberman-Moffitt

Senior Editor, Tandem

In today’s society, it’s not uncommon to be out and about and see parents indulging their children, known as permissive parenting.

“Oh, you want that toy? Sure, you can have it. That piece of candy? Why not.” My parents were admittedly much less permissive. “You want to throw money away? You can throw it in my pocketbook,” was a common reply from my mother. So much so that it is now etched in stone in my brain.

This alternative parenting style can be considered authoritarian.

When it comes to parenting, there are four parenting styles:

  • Permissive
  • Authoritarian
  • Authoritative
  • Neglectful

Out of these parenting types, is one better than the other?

It’s probably hard to say that one parenting style is right and another is wrong. Instead, here we can examine the pros and cons of permissive parenting.

Pro: Autonomy

Giving children the freedom to do what they want will give them a sense of autonomy and free will. They may show they can be independent or have higher self-esteem or more confidence.

Pro: Less conflict

There is less conflict between the parent and the child because the permissive parent avoids conflict. This can make a child feel more protected and secure.

Pro: Fewer rules

Children may establish feelings of competency when they are left to make their own rules. These children may be more open or honest with their parents as they do not fear criticism or rejection.

Con: Autonomy

You may want to give your child the freedom to do what they want. But you still need to be mindful and aware of the potential for dangerous situations to arise. This may mean that your child does not have full autonomy.

Con: Less conflict

When there is no conflict, important subjects can be swept under the rug and not given the attention or consideration they need.

Con: Fewer rules

Children could be prone to anxiety if there are fewer rules and fewer limits. A lack of rules could also be misconstrued by the child as a lack of love or nurture.

You probably noticed that for each pro, there was also a con.

Being a permissive parent and giving kids more freedom can provide them with motivation and drive. Still, it also has the potential to cause kids to act out, be more impulsive, or not have appropriate social skills.

What’s more important than defining one parenting style is finding that happy medium and the best of all parenting styles to make you and your child happy.

Swati Patwal, M.Sc.

Swati Patwal

Certified Diabetes Educator, MomJunction 

Parents have high responsiveness with low expectations and demands

Permissive parenting, also known as “lenient parenting,” is a parenting style that focuses on treating children as equals. It gives children the utmost freedom and doesn’t believe in exercising control to discipline them or put them into a structure.

Parents following this parenting style have high responsiveness with low expectations and demands. But while it appears to be a perfect way to raise children, lenient parenting has several cons that often outweigh its pros.

Let’s learn how:

Pros of permissive parenting:

  • Permissive parents pay specific attention to their children and can go to any length to meet their needs.
  • Parents pay attention to nurturing their child’s personalities and talents.
  • Parents give children ample freedom to explore themselves and the world around them.
  • Since the focus is to do anything to keep children happy, the areas of conflict are minimum.

Cons of permissive parenting:

  • Due to low expectations and fewer rules, children fail to learn self-regulation and self-control.
  • Poor self-regulation and self-control may make a child struggle with negative emotion management.
  • Lack of discipline and structure causes children to struggle with time and habit management.
  • Since all their needs are met at any cost, they may start taking things for granted or make unreasonable demands.

Victoria Taylor

Victoria Taylor

Teacher | Founder, Best Case Parenting

It can help kids develop into independent adults but can also foster a sense of entitlement

I often get asked about the pros and cons of permissive parenting. And while there are definitely some benefits to this style of parenting, there are also some potential downsides that parents should be aware of.

The pros of permissive parenting:

  • Permissive parents often have close relationships with their children.
  • Permissive parents are usually more relaxed and laid-back, which can be a good thing for kids who need more structure in their lives.
  • Permissive parenting can teach children to be responsible for their own actions.
  • Permissive parents often allow their children to make choices and learn from their mistakes, which can help them develop into independent adults.
  • Permissive parenting can help children feel safe and secure, knowing they always have a place to come home to no matter what happens in life.

The cons of permissive parenting:

  • Children raised by permissive parents may lack discipline and boundaries, which can lead to problems later in life.
  • Many experts believe that permissive parenting leads to spoiled, entitled kids who expect everything handed to them on a silver platter — and when they don’t get what they want, they may throw tantrums or even become violent.
  • When kids never experience the natural consequences of their bad decisions (such as being grounded), they may not learn how to take responsibility for their actions.
  • Permissive parenting can foster a sense of entitlement in children, who may believe that they are owed something just because they exist.
  • Some experts believe that permissive parenting leads to kids who are more likely to use drugs and alcohol, engage in risky behaviors, and have mental health issues later in life.

Pamela Li

Pamela Li

Best-selling Author | Founder, Parenting For Brain

Con: Children tend to struggle with self-control

Permissive-indulgent parents are known for their high responsiveness to their children’s emotional needs and low demandingness. They can often neglect to set boundaries and limits or are inconsistent with enforcing them. You can expect a permissive-indulgent parent to bribe their child with a toy or their favorite food in exchange for good behavior.

Children who grow up with permissive-indulgent parents tend to struggle with self-control.

This can lead to some very serious negative effects, such as:

  • Aggressive and impulsive behavior
  • Egocentric tendencies
  • Lack of emotional regulation
  • Susceptibility to alcohol-related issues
  • Crimes and substance abuse
  • Worse academic performance

If you’re unsure if you’re a permissive parent, there are a few signs to look out for. If you do not set any rules, expectations, or boundaries, or if you set them but don’t enforce them, then you might unintentionally be using a permissive parenting style.

Roughly 18% of parents in the US use a permissive parenting style.

That said, you can still be responsive, warm, and supportive to your child under the right set of circumstances without being permissive. Autonomy-supportive parenting, for instance, is a parenting style that allows children to become self-motivated with little inference from parents.

Ultimately, a parent must find the right balance between their preferred parenting style and what’s best for their children.

Iqbal Ahmad

Iqbal Ahmad

Founder and CEO, Britannia School of Academics

Permissive parenting is a kind of parenting that has been gaining traction in recent years. It is a child-centered approach that focuses on the needs and desires of the child, with little or no punishment for misbehavior and a lack of parental involvement in the child’s life.

Permissive parents are sensitive to their children’s needs and want, granting them more freedom than other types of parents. However, like any other parenting, permissive parenting has pros and cons.

Let’s have a look at what these might be.

Pro: Self-assurance

Permissive parents allow their children to explore and experiment, leading to independence, self-confidence, and self-sufficiency.

Pro: Exploration

Permissive parents encourage exploration, which can lead to creativity.

Cons: Risk-prone temperament

Children raised permissively may be more likely to take risks because they have not been taught boundaries or consequences.
This reckless behavior for their actions can also lead to issues such as drug abuse, rebellion, etc.

Cons: Behavioral inhibition

Children raised permissively may be less inhibited, i.e., unable to adjust to new situations. When acting out or misbehaving, they don’t know how to behave appropriately in public settings or around adults.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is there a right way to be a parent?

There is no universally “right” way to parent because every child and every family is unique. What works for one child may not necessarily work for another, and what is successful in one cultural context may not be as effective in another.

The most effective parenting approaches are usually adaptable and take into account the child’s specific needs, temperament, and developmental stage.

However, certain parenting styles tend to be associated with more positive outcomes for children.

The “right” parenting style is to be responsive to the child’s needs, be willing to adapt and learn and strive to create a nurturing and supportive environment that promotes healthy growth and development.

How can I tell if I am being too permissive as a parent?

Some signs that you may be too permissive as a parent include the following:

– Your child frequently disobeys rules or boundaries.
– You have a hard time saying “no” to your child.
– Your child’s demands dictate your decisions.
– You prioritize your child’s happiness over teaching life lessons.
– Your child has difficulty taking responsibility for their actions.

If you can identify with these signs, it may be time to rethink your parenting style and consider more structure and guidance.

How can I move from a permissive parenting style to a more balanced approach?

To move from a permissive parenting style to a more balanced approach, follow these steps:

– Think about your current parenting style and its impact on your child’s behavior and development.
– Set clear expectations and limits and communicate them to your child.
– Enforce rules and consequences consistently.
– Maintain open communication with your child, discussing their thoughts and feelings.
– Maintain warmth, affection, and support as you introduce more structure.
– Seek professional help if needed, such as a therapist or parenting consultant.

How can I create a healthy balance between permissive parenting and my child’s social development?

To create a healthy balance between permissive parenting and your child’s social development, consider these tips:

– Teach your child empathy, respect, and understanding of others’ perspectives.
– Encourage your child to participate in social activities like playdates, extracurricular activities, or community events.
– Discuss the importance of setting limits and respecting others’ personal space and feelings.
– Exhibit appropriate social behavior and communication skills.
– Provide assistance in managing social situations, such as resolving conflicts or making new friends.

Balancing permissive parenting with social development can help your child develop strong interpersonal skills while maintaining the benefits of a caring and responsive parenting style.

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