Have a question, concern or problem regarding your child's behaviors? Send me an email and I will do a blog post about it! You will always remain anonymous! tkmiller81002@yahoo.com

Monday, January 10, 2011

Permissive Parenting: The Doormat

Before you read this post I want you to commit to do the following, I want you to commit to truly look at yourself and see if this is the type of parent you are and not read this and think oh this is totally my sister/mother/friend. Too often we see the faults of others instead of truly reflecting on ourselves. You cannot become the best parent for your child if you refuse to look within yourself and see where your strengths and shortcomings come from. 

Have you ever known a family where the child got everything they wanted and there was little to no discipline? This type of parenting is visible from birth - where the baby literally takes over the parents life and what baby wants, baby gets, up to the teen years where the parents literally have absolutely no control over their teenagers life. This type of parent has literally given complete control of the household to the children in their home. Some examples of Permissive Parenting situations are as follows:

  • Mom makes pancakes for breakfast, Annie doesn't want pancakes so she cries, screams, throws the food on the floor or silently refuses to eat the pancakes. Mom then begs and pleads with Annie to please eat the pancakes, to which the child still refuses to do and so mom asks Annie what she would like to eat for breakfast, Annie says french toast and even though there is a perfectly fine breakfast of pancakes on the table mom makes french toast for Annie
  • Annie makes a huge mess in the living room, mom tells her to clean up, Annie doesn't want to so she doesn't so mom cleans the mess because it is just easier for her to clean than to fight with her daughter over the mess.
  • At bedtime Annie refuses to go to bed and it is a constant battle every night to keep Annie in her bed and go to sleep peacefully and before she can go to sleep she must have her blanket, a bedtime story, a drink of water, her special blanket, her bed made a certain way, etc etc and mom and dad accomodate all of her demands because otherwise she just won't go to sleep.
These are only a few of the examples of a permissive parent, but the principle is the same in all of them, mom and dad must make adjustments all day to keep their child happy and content and the child gets whatever they want. These parents (whether consciously or subconsciously):

  • Believe that the power that they have comes from the power that their child gives them
  • They believe that their child is capable of directing their own life
  • They use very little discipline
  • They believe that what their child wants is very reasonable
  • Avoid establishing AND maintaining control
  • They make excuses to others for why their child's behavior is acceptable
  • They are "martyrs" and often ask advice from others on how to be better with their kids - but don't follow through on the advice and eventually their friends and family members no longer want to be around them.
Children of these parents are "brats" for lack of a better word because they have been raised to be "brats." They act on their impulses and desires and have absolutely no self control. These children do what they want, when they want and if they can't then everyone better watch out because a massive tantrum will ensue, by the way teenagers are just as capable of throwing tantrums as toddlers they just look different. These children tend to be low achievers unless it is something they want to do. They do not want to take care of themselves (refuse to tie their own shoes or get a job) because they know mommy and daddy will do it for them. These children have a hard time with rules because they have been taught that they can be challenged and if they throw a big enough fit they can get the rules to change. These children tend to be more aggressive because it pays off with their parents . . . if they don't get their way they act out until they do.

Permissive parents eventually blow up at their kids because they can't handle all of the demands the child is putting on the parents and therefore they become more controlling, but because it is too hard to maintain that control and therefore they go right back to giving in to their child's demands.

Permissive parenting is in my opinion the lazy way to parent. These parents don't want to take the time or the energy to discipline their kids because it is inconvenient for them, or they are too busy trying to be their kids best friend, or they are too involved in their own life and wants to put their kids needs above their own. Often times these parents just don't want to be the bad guy, but because they are not teaching their kids that life is full of disappointments and it isn't always fun and games they are actually becoming the bad guy.

We all know someone who is a permissive parent, I personally know several of them, the question is are you a permissive parent? If you are still unsure if this is you test yourself: do not do anything different with your kids than you normally do throughout the day and as you interact with your child watch how you react to their demands and watch how they react to your demands - do you find yourself giving in to their demands more than they are giving in to yours. Still unsure? Ask someone close to you who you can trust to be honest with you and ask their opinion or leave a comment and tell me about your day to day life with your kids and I will help you.


  1. I totally see these attributes in other people but I do see them in my self in some ways as well I agree I have a five year old who drives me nuts and I have been to some parenting classes to,but sometimes I give in just to get her to stop whining and I know it is only going to get worse as she gets older.

  2. She is driving you nuts because you have reinforced to her that if she whines eventually she will get what she wants. Often times we try to change and then after a few days because the behavior hasn't changed we give up and go back to what we were doing before and all that teaches our kids is that if they fight hard enough and long enough they will get things back to the way they were. It is great that you recognized some of these qualities in yourself and were willing to admit to them.

    It will get worse if you don't choose to change, keep coming back and you will see ways that I handle everyday situations and hopefully you can apply them to your life and make some adjustments so that is doesn't get worse, but gets better!

  3. Kim - Reading this has been an eye opener. I know for a fact that there are times when I am certainly a permissive parent. Not every day, all day, but certainly times when I'm not in the mood for the "fight". I find that my biggest struggle is Nick because I have the older boys and have a good handle on that and then you throw in a 2 year old. It's been over 5+ years since I've dealt with a 2 year old and even then, I was working for the majority of the child's day.

    For the most part, I stand my ground. However, I do have those days when I'm plum exhausted and don't want to fight Nick and simply give him the crackers or whatever he wants. Those days are few and far between, but they happen. I certainly know that I'm not a perfect parent, but at the same time both Dave and I try really hard to instill good values in our children.

    Great blog... hope lots of people are thinking/getting ideas/implementing your thoughts & experience. Keep it up!

  4. Well, after reading the three parenting types, I think it depends on the day for me. I can be all of them. Obviously I need to work harder to only be the first one, but somedays it is hard to think of choices that they are always going to love. Practice makes perfect, right?

  5. Absolutely! We can all be all of them depending on the circumstances and our own moods/attitudes that are going on that day, if I am having a bad day I tend to be way more authoritarian than anything else because it is easier to take it out on my kids than for me to reign in my emotions and still be calm and loving and thoughtful. If I am sick (the first three months of this pregnancy) I was way more permissive with my kids because all I wanted to do was lay in bed and not throw up.

    The key is to only be permissive/authoritarian every now and then but for the majority of the time we need to be more assertive with our kids. Choices are the hardest part, but don't worry I will be going over that next week!


Please be aware that I reserve the right to delete any comment that I feel is offensive to myself or other readers - we are all trying to be the best we can and we must respect each others opinions. You can disagree just don't be rude.