Who knew such a simple question could invoke such thought? I had absolutely no idea there was a permissive style of parenting. In fact, I had to Google the definition of a permissive parent.
Honestly, who has time for all these titles, labels and categories.
I certainly don’t. Half my day is simply a gut reaction to whatever my four children throw at me?
I’m like a ninja constantly dodging tears, meltdowns, and poop.
So when I sat down to write, I stared at the question for a long time trying to think about how I was going to approach it. Permissive parents are broadly defined as inconsistent with rules, make few demands and approach their children as more of a friend rather than a parent. They allow their children to make decisions for themselves with few punishments or consequences for their actions. Obviously, there is more to a permissive parent than a simple definition. It is subjective. What may seem permissive to me may be completely different to you, your children and your experiences.
Which leads me to a bigger question, who are we to judge one another on parenting styles?
If you can relate to a permissive parent, good for you! If permissive parenting is working for your family, keep it up! I can relate to so many aspects of permissive parenting especially when we are safely tucked inside our home away from judging eyes.
When we are at home, my husband and I both agree, we don’t want to limit our children in the place where they feel most comfortable to be themselves. Our approach is very relaxed with little guidance or intervention. You want to run around naked, be our guest. If you’re going to fight over cereal, toys, cotton balls, etc. you’re going to have to work it out amongst yourselves. Normally, we only intervene when it turns serious. And for the most part, this type of parenting style works for us at home.
Now, that being said, I can’t imagine parenting my high-spirited, feral children without ever using rules or consequences. Of course I want my kids to be able to regulate themselves and I would always rather use reason instead of yelling. But let’s be real here.
When we are outside the house and my kids are acting up, I’m not their friend. I’m their parent.
This was especially true when we lived in D.C. I couldn’t have mass chaos amongst my children when we were out. Whenever we left the house, even if it was to play in the front yard, I needed to trust my children to respect our rules. It was a safety issue.
So perhaps instead of asking are you a permissive parent, we should really be asking as a parent, when do you feel it’s acceptable to allow freedom of behavior? When do you step in and apply rules and when do you allow your children more free reign?
We as parents are in a constant state of evolution. I always tell my kids that I’m growing and learning right along with them. I’m not always going to make the right decision. I’m not always going to handle the situation the way I should, but that’s the journey we all take as parents. It’s a life learning experience and there are a million different ways to do it. So if you are a permissive parent or you dabble in it from time to time. Go for it! You’ve got this!
And if you’re not a permissive parent, you keep doing you! We are all amazing parents regardless of our style or technique.
Let’s all take a minute to stop judging each other and actually start offering support to one another. We have each been given such a precious gift that we get to cultivate and tend everyday.
Let’s all find our way back to trusting our own instincts regardless of label, catagory or theory. We can be the balance for our children. Love them. Grow them. Guide them to be kind and compassionate citizens of humanity, no matter what style of parenting we choose.
Photography: Lindsay Herkert Photography
Lindsay is a San Diego native, living the Austin life for two years now. She loves outdoor adventures with her three children; Declan, Lexi, and Nate and her quick-witted husband Adam of 14 years. She has a passion for documenting life’s ordinary magic through photography and is a proud contributor and team member of Offset Artist and Click Pro. When she’s not taking pictures, you’ll find her running, doing yoga, drinking a chai tea latte or baking chocolate chip cookies. You can find more of her photography on instagram @lindsay.herkert