This is Part Three of the differing styles which adults tend to portray when parenting. Ordinarily we are not going to fit one mould when parenting, but there is a tendency to predominate in one style over the other. This article will discuss Permissive Parenting.

At times a parent constantly juggles to do the right thing by their kids, while keeping them happy, without being indulgent. In other words to keep up a modication of fairness while enjoying their individuality.

Traits of a Permissive Parent

Permissive parents tend to be indulgent, providing little structure and discipline. They are the parents who will allow their teens to have a party, will provide the alcohol for their teens, and then shut themselves in the other room and let the teens get on with it. They are also the parents who don’t want to risk their relationship with their teenager or may not have the time or energy to enforce limits. They would rather adhere to the demands of their children, rather than make demands. They also  hold the belief their teenagers have the maturity to make decisions for themselves. You may even find some parents begin reliving their second adolescence because an unrecognised need to fulfil what they feel they missed out on in their own teenage years.


A key to developing adolescents is the need to define their own individuality. Parents will normally have defined theirs and will have expectations to which they find it necessary for the teenager to adhere to. This becomes difficult to do if permissive parenting is being practiced, because a ball cannot bounce against a wall if the wall is missing. The one exception to this though, is if the permissive parent offers encouragement and is supportive. The adolescent is then able to develop with more confidence and be more comfortable about it.

Teens who are allowed to behave with immaturity and are irresponsible will not develop a strong identity or healthy self-concept. Some become easily stressed and have trouble with self confidence in the face of adversity. Others may continue to be dependent upon their parents and stay caught up in the partying lifestyle, living at home and be late developing their independence. On the other hand they may wish to continue their immaturity and irresponsibility out of parent’s sight, in accommodation with their like minded peers.


The problem with alcohol and teenagers is the behaviour that goes with it. An obvious one is sexual activity. Permissive parents will give their tacit approval by ensuring their sons have condoms or their daughters are put on birth control. Many permissive parents will rationalise that their teens are going to drink anyway so why not “supervise” their drinking behaviour (and have them throw up on the front lawn). Thankfully in this day and age it is getting through to most teenagers to sleep out their alcohol before driving. Unfortunately, alcohol is not the only danger.

Tacit Approval

Again parents give their tacit approval by smoking marijuana in front of their kids. And with “P” being more popular, don’t you believe it that it will not be around some teenage parties. The end result of all this mix, is the unfortunate effect of mental illness in a few teenagers, because the brain does not fully develop for adolescents until in their 20s, and the combination of all this is just too much for some.

To a permissive parent it may not seem too horrific that their 18 year old son is dating and having sex with their 15 year old girlfriend, but have a zealous parent on the other end, their 18 year old son will suddenly be had up on charges. And you may ask who would do that in this day and age? Quite a few actually, if you bring multicultural practices into the mix.

Parents who can’t say No

Some parents are just too darn busy to put the energy into their children. They might provide material goods and treats out of feelings of guilt over not having the time to invest, or they may pop down with their kids to McDonalds for a meal out at the mall rather than face the issues that need to be faced. Other parents just find it easier to give in to their child’s demands not having the strength to stand up to them. If you are a solo parent, having a good support system around you can be helpful.

How your teen will react to your permissive style

Inappropriate Behaviour

Here’s why parents should not be providing their kids with alcohol, drugs or disregarding traffic laws, or even paying their kids fines. Kids do know right from wrong, but they can begin following their parents distorted thinking and ways of behaviour. It therefore creates ethical dilemmas for the teen. Inappropriate social behaviour might then put them at odds with their peers an also their peer’s parents, who will start considering them a bad influence.

Acting Out

If you don’t provide the structure or boundaries needed, your teen will act out in an attempt to receive it. (Take for example my son, who I had securely and safely ensconced in Boarding School, where he would get all the structure he needed. However that did not stop him from acting out, sneaking in alcohol at 14!, and being dumb enough to fire the empties under his bed, but conniving enough that they couldn ‘t prove he had drunk it.)  Structures and boundaries provide the security they crave. If not provided, impulsive behaviours ensue and not always with a favourable outcome. Self-control is learned but often at the expense of some harsh lessons. Quite often these teens will have poor decision making and problem-solving skills. They can be self centered and feel entitled.


With Permissive Parenting, because your teen has not been required to control their emotions, they can often react over small issues. They may also feel guilt for being angry and ironically express anger in turn . This can be in the form of passive anger. Passive anger is where the child is resistant to many requests. They may verbally comply, but their actions don’t match. They can be great sulkers, become irritable and argumentative. They are also excellent procrastinators. If they have inadequate control at home, they may express their anger out in the community


If parents are going to be lax with discipline and structure then it follows that teenagers may struggled with completing assignments, show little persistence in challenges, and have less interest in getting good grades. If they are not accustomed to following rules then their behaviour too is likely to be more problematical. However, if they do have supportive parents and the teen is internally motivated they can do well in school.

The key to having positive outcomes is to be a parent that is supportive of their child’s interests so they may be assured in their accomplishments and achievements. This then provides the child with the confidence, and ability to solve problems, as well as develop resilience. If you have found this useful and of interest please share with a friend and check out my other blogs as well as other useful tips and strategies offered on this website

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