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Permissive Parenting Hurts Children

Joan Jerkovich - July 21, 2014 8:47 pm

OK, I admit that it may be an exaggeration to say that if you are a permissive parent you are hurting your children, but there are problems associated with being the parent who doesn’t discipline and doesn’t set limits or consequences.

Don’t take my word for it. I’m writing this blog off an article written by Dr. Laura Markham. She’s the real expert on this, and here’s my slant on what she wrote in her article titled: “What’s Wrong with Permissive Parenting”.

I like what Dr. Laura wrote when she said: Kids need limits for healthy emotional development.

I found this article after my talk radio caller Kevin; spoke of the resentments caused when his girlfriend would not discipline her child. When consequences were set, such as, “you don’t get a ride to school, you can walk”, she would back down and give the ride. Her being a friend to her child instead of a parent broke up their blended family, and Kevin is struggling to get it back. He loves his girlfriend, but some hard decisions need to be made before they can move back in together and possibly move toward marriage.

Dr. Laura Markham is here to help. To synopsize what I learned from her article, nine points were made about what happens when parents don’t set limits:

The nine points (in bold) are Dr. Laura’s…the following snarky comments are mine…

1. The parents grant desires that should not be granted and have harmful consequences. Seriously, the child does not need to see the R-rated movie when they’re only 14; or they don’t need to stay up late on a school night; or they don’t need a curfew later than is age appropriate. These can be harmful to a child who needs help with setting limits.

2. The child’s desires are met at the expense of someone else. You’ve seen me blog on this. These are the kids whose parents let them run all around in the nice restaurant because they haven’t been taught good behavior. This, in my opinion, is where the parents need a consequence. Can we send our dinner tab to their table since their rowdy children disrupted our dinner out?

3. The child learns that disappointment and sadness are intolerable. If mom and dad overprotect their child from the inevitable life lessons that sadness and disappointment bring, then a child begins to fear failure. They might avoid taking risks because they don’t believe they can emotionally handle a possible poor outcome.

4. The child never learns to lovingly impose limits on herself. There’s no self-denial and setting limits, which I equate to self-discipline. Think of how a lack of self-discipline can set a child up for failure. This becomes more evident as children get older with more responsibilities. They need to be able to tell themselves…No, I can’t afford that new car, or cell phone, or designer purse just now; or No, I can’t go out with friends until my homework is done.

5. The child never learns that happiness is not derived from wish fulfillment. Yes, you can be happy in the face of disappointment or when you don’t get everything you wish for. How do children learn this? By allowing the shit to hit the fan. They will either cope or fall apart. But this is where you, the parents, pick them up, dust off their behind, and push them back in to the fray.

6. The child has a much harder time developing stable internal happiness. Feelings such as anger, sadness and disappointment are to be expected in life. When parents shield their children from the difficult emotions of life, children are less likely to develop strong self-love. They are unable to accept themselves; flaws, bitchy, bad moods and all.

7. Kids need to know that their parents have a different role than they do, which includes keeping them safe. Don’t be the parent who only reacts when there is a nuclear bomb going off (my faithful blog followers have heard me say that one before!). Children need you to set limits and throw out the safety net. They don’t need you to be their peer.

8. Permissive parents make constant compromises about things that are important to them. Do you allow your child to disrespect you? Do you give in to their demands and buy them things you know they don’t need, even when those purchases will tax the family finances?

9. The permissive parenting style undermines the parent-child relationship. For example, if you allow your children to talk back to you and disrespect you, this can lead to ill will. It’s only natural for the parent to feel angry and resentful of being treated this way and will strain your relationship. You don’t want that!

In summary, a child wants and needs to feel safe. It’s your job as a parent to set the limits and consequences that weave the safety net. To discipline your children is to love them. Discipline with love, empathy and kindness then pat yourself on the back for providing your children with the safety and security they crave.

Listen to Kevin’s story and my commentary on this topic: Problems of Permissive Parenting; Girlfriend Does Not Discipline; Are you a Discipline Wimp?

Visit Dr. Laura’s website to read her article in full and maybe some day in the near future her people will call my people and we will be honored with her presence on the radio! How cool!

Joan Jerkovich, BCC Board Certified Life Coach

Joan Jerkovich, BCC
Board Certified Life Coach

The Joan Jerkovich Show
News Radio 1150 KSAL
Saturdays @ 6:00 am CST
Podcast posts to KSAL.com Mondays

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