If you're anything like me, terms like "push over" and "too nice" probably get thrown your way all too often. But there's something to be said for the parent who takes the more laid-back approach, also known as the passive parent. But what if you aren't even aware you've made a conscious decision about how you're raising your child? As it turns out, there are plenty of signs you're a passive parent and don't know it. You might think you're keenly self-aware, but parenthood has a way of muddling details.
It seems like in a the blink of an eye, my son has gone from an angelic infant to a demanding threenager. If you were to ask my mother how this transformation occurred, she would — without hesitation — say that it's because I'm too easy on him and don't set enough boundaries. But is that really such a bad thing? It's not like he has full rule of the house. After all, even the most permissive, free-range parent puts their foot down sometimes. So if any of this sounds familiar to you, you might want to check out the following signs you're a passive parent and don't know it.
1. You Prioritize Compassion
Most parents understand the importance of being kind and caring towards their children. But as psychologist Dr. Ronald E. Riggio told Psychology Today, passive parents value warmth and interaction above all else. So if you notice that you're putting compassion first, you may be a passive parent.
2. You're Stuck On Repeat
It's not just your imagination. Sometimes you might feel like you're stuck in a time loop because you're constantly having to say the same things over and over again. As therapist Debbie Pincus told Empowering Parents, a classic sign of a permissive parent is feeling like you're nagging. If you're tired of repeating yourself, it might be time to start setting consequences for ignoring your requests.
3. You Ask For Input
Do even the smallest choices become major family discussions? As psychosocial rehabilitation specialist Kendra Cherry told Very Well that a common trait in passive parenting is to involve the child in making decisions. Though it's not necessarily bad to include your child in things, you may want to consider how much input is too much.
4. You Fear Public Outbursts
No one is really a fan of tantrums, especially the kind that happens in the middle of a store solely because you told your kid they couldn't get sugary cereal. According to anthropology research Dr. Gwen Dewar's site Parenting Science, a parent who does anything to avoid a commotion is likely a passive parent. Giving in to your child's demands to preserve the peace is definitely a sign that your style errs on the permissive side.
5. Your Rules Are Flexible
I'll be the first to admit that I struggle with maintaining absolutes in our house. This is apparently common among passive parents. According to the official site for the developmental psychology department at Vanderbilt University, a sign you're a permissive parent is if, "you often compromise your rules to accommodate your child’s mood."
6. You Avoid Negative Experiences
It's natural to want to shelter your child from uncomfortable situations, but if you take it to the extreme, you may be a passive parent. As Pincus told Empowering Parents, a common characteristic of a permissive parent is if, "you want to make sure your child never struggles, fails or feels pain or disappointment." Being a buffer between your little one and anything negative is a classic sign of the passive parenting style.