6 Signs You're A Permissive Parent & Don't Even Know It

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Permissive parents love their kids. They are typically nurturing, affectionate, warm, and relaxed. In permissive parenting, there are fewer rules and the family dynamic is very child-led. While there are several different types of parenting styles, one is not better than the other. Identifying your style though can sometimes be helpful in understanding why you and your partner make certain decisions as a parent. So if you are wondering if your parenting style falls under a specific category, here are some signs that you are a permissive parent, which you may not have noticed.

In general, signs that your parenting style is permissive include that you don't set up a ton of rules for your kids as you allow them to have a good amount of freedom, and when it comes time to setting boundaries and saying "no", the process involves a lot of negotiating between parent and child, more so than if you are a parent who's more authoritative. Like many topics when it comes to parenting, the definition of what kind of parent you are can be very gray. In the 1960's, psychologist Diana Baumrind conducted a study that identified different parenting styles — authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive; later, Eleanor Maccoby and Peter Martin expanded that list of styles to include uninvolved.

In addition to permissive parenting, a couple other overarching styles of parenting include authoritarian parenting (in which there are strict rules and punishments set in place), uninvolved (where parents have little interaction with their kids and few demands of them).

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Though there are clearly defined labels, this doesn't mean that a parent must be, or necessarily even can be, described as one singular type of parent because many parents might use different styles at different times and different styles with different children. "Just like how some children require a strict teacher to thrive and others need a more nurturing one who does more creative activities, different children might require different parenting styles," says social worker Jill Kaiser, and parents will oftentimes recognize this and adjust how they handle certain situations and personalities accordingly.

Kaiser said that it's good to reflect on why parents choose a particular parenting style. Is it a reflection of their own parents' style? Some people who grow up in an authoritarian household swear they will do the opposite and become permissive parents themselves. Some who like their parents' style will adopt the same philosophy in their own home. Either way, Kaiser believes that it's important for parents to look at their motivations when selecting this style of parenting. Some parents make the choice with the child in mind, feeling that a looser atmosphere is more in line with their philosophy in life. Others do it for their own benefit, because they don't like confrontation, may be insecure about their parenting choices, and want to be liked by their children.

Ultimately, you should determine the parenting style that fits your family's needs. If you are wondering if you fall under the permissive parent category, here are some signs that you may be one.

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1There's No Bedtime


If it's midnight and your eight year old is still wandering the house, it's possible this is because you are a permissive parent. many families have different rules for things like bedtime, says Parenting Science, and each needs to do what feels right and works for them. However, in the case of no bedtime, you may want to be conscious of whether or not your child is getting enough sleep. They may actually appreciate the limit set on their waking hours and feel better physically with a routine bedtime. Laura Kastner, Ph.D., of the University of Washington School of Medicine, said that for many busy parents, they don't want family time to become an argument, so they don't set a strict bedtime. However, she feels you can introduce a bedtime if you are "calm, absolutely resolute and not cave."

2Your Kids Have Trouble With Self-Control


Families who have too many or too few rules can wind up having kids who have trouble with self-regulation, according to a 2013 study. Dutch researchers studied English-speaking American children who lived in The Netherlands and found that those in authoritarian and permissive households had more trouble controlling their emotions and had "difficulty connecting with peers, generating relationships with teachers, negotiating their social world, and succeeding academically."

3Your Day Is One Giant Negotiation


Children of permissive parents often learn that any rules that do exist are flexible. This can lead to ongoing negotiations. In an effort to please, Families explained that permissive parents cave to this manipulation and allow the cycle to repeat itself all day, every day.

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4Your Kids Lash Out Physically


Physically aggressive children cause trouble for themselves and others. A study at the University of Texas showed showed that kids from permissive parenting households predicted a higher chance of social aggression over several years, reported The Natural Family. From this they deduced that " parents setting fewer limits on children’s behaviors may have lasting consequences for their peer relations.”

5You Don't Set Limits


If your child is on their fourth cupcake or has been playing Xbox for seven hours straight, it sounds like there are no, or few, limits for them. Research has shown that children who don't have limits struggle with self-esteem when they get to college and have a higher incidence of alcohol use as teens.

6You Are Often Bribing Them


Are you are constantly bribing your kids to do something? For example, are you always negotiating them completing their homework with candy bars? It is one way to get a child to do something, and used sparingly, bribing works. However, if you use this tactic for almost every action you want your child to do, it could be a sign that you're a permissive parent, explains Parenting Science.

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