The Dangers Of Indulgent Parenting
Do you suspect you or someone you know may be engaging in parenting that’s indulgent? Are you worried that permissive parenting may be harmful to your child or someone else’s? You should be.
Indulgent parenting, or permissive parenting, is a parenting style marked by very high expressions of warmth paired with very low control. While warmth is typically a beneficial parenting trait, when combined with low control, it creates a dysfunctional style of parenting that is typically harmful to the parent and the child. Permissive parents may be very attentive, but they often allow their children to do whatever they want without boundaries, good or bad, healthy or unhealthy.
Psychologists use the four parenting styles to analyze various ways of raising children and the results of those methods. Each parenting style is made up of a set of practices. If most of your parenting practices fall into a particular type, that is the parenting style you most identify with. You don’t necessarily need to follow every method associated with a specific style to associate with that parenting style. Of course, each parent raises their children slightly differently from others. Therefore, these styles and practices can have many variations.
The four commonly named styles are:
- Authoritarian parenting
- Authoritative parenting
- Uninvolved parenting
- Indulgent/permissive parenting
In the permissive parenting style, the parent rarely enforces rules and tends to let the children act without consequence. These parents often seem more like friends with their kids rather than parents. Indulgent parents are often highly responsive to their children, distinguishing them from uninvolved parents. It’s not that indulgent parents ignore their children; they simply allow them to get away with a lot. Indulgent parents often view themselves as good parents because of how deeply they love their kids and want them to be happy.
Examples Of Permissive Parenting:
- No specific rules are established for children’s behavior.
- Rules are inconsistent, situational, or only upheld when the parent is tired or for some other arbitrary reason.
- The parent is loving and nurturing but may overpraise the child, making it difficult for them to understand which behaviors are good or exceed expectations.
- The parent acts like their child’s friend more than a parent.
- Parents bribe the child with gifts, toys, or food to get them to behave rather than establishing expectations.
- The child is given little structure or schedule, lacking a daily routine or expectations for age-appropriate responsibilities.
- The parents put priority on giving the child freedom over teaching responsibility.
- The parents ask their children for an opinion on significant decisions rather than helping them cope with decisions that the adults make.
- The child rarely faces any consequences enforced by the parents.
Consequences Of Indulgent Parenting
Many issues arise from indulgent parenting because children are not usually prepared to make good decisions for themselves. They need parents to intervene at times and set rules. These consequences are not just psychological- children of indulgent parents are more likely to have health problems, such as those associated with obesity, because the parents do not enforce healthy habits.
Other adverse consequences of a permissive parenting style include:
Life is such that we don’t always get what we want. However, indulgent parents will try to give their children all they need or want in the name of being supportive. When they always expect to have every need and want to be met without effort, it sets up a false reality for the child in the future.
You may not want your child to suffer by feeling a desire that goes unfulfilled, but this is an essential lesson for life. Additionally, children who are praised too often for minor achievements feel like they deserve praise for minimal effort. This results in adults who put in minimal effort and complain when they don’t get the results they want. They may blame others for their problems, despite their reluctance to make an effort to solve them.
Poor Impulse Control
Young children cannot set boundaries on how they use their time or what they indulge in. Parents who set boundaries teach their children self-discipline to eventually make good decisions about things like time management and limit themselves with behaviors like screen time or eating junk food.
Since children of permissive parents are seldom given expectations, they are also more likely to engage in risky behaviors, including underage drinking and drug use, because they have no fear of discipline.
They are also more likely to have issues with school behaviors due to a lack of guidance and structure at home. They are usually unaccustomed to listening to an adult in authority. That makes it difficult for them to follow school rules because they become resentful when school becomes challenging.
Difficulties With Delayed Gratification
Delayed gratification is a necessary skill for activities like saving money for a particular expense or staying in shape by following good eating habits and exercising routinely. The problems that children with permissive parents face often carry over into adulthood. When you get everything you want exactly when you want it, you do not learn this skill, and your quality of life suffers.
Impulsive Anger And Frustration
Not all, but some children raised with an indulgent parenting style face challenges due to difficulties managing aggression and emotional understanding when dealing with others. Some are delayed or don’t fully learn to control their emotions in productive ways because they are used to getting whatever they want. Interacting with the adult world requires compromising with others and not always getting your way. That makes adult relationships and career achievements potentially difficult.
Age-Inappropriate Reactions (Lesser Maturity Compared To Peers)
Children who are entitled and get what they want all the time are also more likely to throw tantrums beyond the usual age for such behavior. They are likely to be less engaged than other children their age, doing only what interests them rather than taking responsibility for what they need to do.
It may seem like a common outcome that children who are loved and get everything they want should feel good about themselves. Children of indulgent parents aren’t as likely to develop the ability to handle challenges, so when they reach an age where they need to do things independently, they often don’t know how to. They have no internal motivation to succeed because they don’t usually need to do things for themselves. They end up anxious, unprepared, and unable to meet the demands of being an adult.
Other children, by contrast, have had to work through struggles because their parents don’t take care of their responsibilities for them. They learn motivation and self-determination. This is precisely what builds self-confidence. Those children learn that they are capable and can overcome obstacles.
Correcting Parenting Behavior
Indulgent parents can take steps now to correct the problematic behavior that results from a permissive parenting style. The steps are simple, though you may feel uncomfortable with enforcing them at first. Try to persevere and keep in mind that it will be a change for you and your child for the better, with long-term benefits for both of you.
You can start with just a few basic expectations and limits, but establishing rules is essential to correcting behavior. What is equally important to having rules is making them clear to your child. If your children can read, hang a list of the rules somewhere they can see, or use a picture list.
Have Clear Consequences
Try to make it clear what the consequences will be for breaking a rule. For young children, timeouts often work. For older kids, losing certain privileges for a while is a reasonable disciplinary action.
It’s imperative to follow through with rules and consequences for your child to understand the results of their actions. Remember that being firm does not mean you don’t love your child. You are providing structure precisely because you love them, and you want them to grow up to be self-sufficient and successful.
The best habits are established with a system of both discipline and rewards. In addition to correcting a child for breaking a rule, notice when they behave exceptionally well. You can provide special privileges as a reward during these times. Avoid material rewards like candy or toys. One method is to take away screen time for bad behavior and reward additional screen time for good behavior.
Making significant change isn’t everyone’s strong suit, and some parents (particularly those with an indulgent parenting style) may struggle with disciplining more than others. Or they may need help communicating between parents and kids or resolving their own issues from their parent’s parenting styles. It may be time to contact a family therapist for help in such cases.
Despite the advantages of family therapy, only some seek help. Some families have difficulty finding the time to schedule and attend appointments during the busy work/school week. Accessibility issues are common where families don’t have access to a professional in their area or have no way to commute to and from appointments. Still, others assume they can’t afford therapy or feel uncomfortable speaking with a therapist in person.
Online therapy is an excellent solution to these obstacles and more. With platforms like ReGain, you can find a licensed, accredited therapist with experience helping families. You can schedule your appointments when convenient and attend from the comfort of home. Teletherapy is often more affordable than conventional therapy without insurance coverage. Extensive research indicates that online therapy is as effective as traditional counseling in helping families communicate and cultivate healthier relationships.
If you’ve come to terms with the need to change your parenting style, you’re already on the road to success. It may not be easy initially, but it’s well worth it for your child’s happiness and well-being.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What Is Indulgent Parenting?
Indulgent parenting is a type of parenting style that involves very high warmth paired with very low control. While the former may sound positive, this, combined with low control, actually creates one of the worst parenting styles. An indulgent parenting style should not be confused with uninvolved parenting; uninvolved parenting, one of the four types of parenting styles, means that the parents aren’t very attentive to their children, while indulgent or permissive parents are very attentive but allow their children to do essentially whatever they want, whether good or bad, healthy or unhealthy.
What Are The Four Parenting Styles?
Diana Baumrind is credited with recognizing three primary parenting styles, known as Baumrind’s parenting styles. These parenting styles include the authoritarian parenting style, authoritative parenting style, and the indulgent parenting style. Another parenting style, uninvolved parenting, has since been recognized as well. According to Baumrind’s parenting styles, the authoritative parenting style produces the healthiest and most stable parent-child relationship, as there is both high warmth and high control. Authoritarian parenting involves low warmth and high control and can be quite damaging to the child’s development long-term. Permissive parents provide high warmth but very low control, which can also be very damaging for long-term development. Uninvolved parenting has low warmth and low control, as the parent or parents are largely absent from the child’s life, either emotionally, physically, or both.
It’s not uncommon for parents to utilize, whether they intend to or not, multiple types of parenting styles or a mixture of all types of parenting styles rather than strictly just one. This can be useful at times but could also be damaging and confusing to the child, particularly if a parent alternates between very strict and authoritarian parenting and then randomly mixes in the warmth of the authoritative parenting style or the complete cold absence of uninvolved parenting style. The type of parenting you choose really shapes your children and the type of adult they will become.
What Parenting Style Is The Best?
As mentioned above, of the four parenting styles (authoritative parenting, authoritarian parenting, permissive parenting, and uninvolved parenting), the authoritative parenting style is regarded as the best parenting style. Diana Baumrind’s original 1966 research paper on Baumrind’s parenting styles found that authoritative parenting tended to produce children with the following qualities: “lively and happy disposition, self-confident about the ability to master tasks, well-developed emotion management, developed social skills, less rigid about gender-typed traits (sensitivity in boys and independence in girls).” This is likely because authoritative parents value openness and warmth while not compromising, providing structure and boundaries for their children. A study conducted by Michigan State University found that the authoritative parenting style tended to have parents with, as the article states, “close, nurturing relationships with their children as they provide clear, firm and consistent guidelines…Parents are highly responsive, expect age-appropriate behavior and boundaries are clear and firm. Therefore, children are assertive, socially responsible, self-controlled and cooperative.”
Conversely, the authoritarian parenting style, more often than not, produces children who are “anxious, withdrawn,” more likely to give up or become hostile when something is difficult for them, but who do well in school. The permissive parenting style tends to result in children who, in the both short and long-term, are not good at managing their emotions or understanding them, become “rebellious and defiant” when their wants are not provided for, or they are somehow “challenged,” and who tend to be antisocial or have unhealthy social behaviors and groups. They are also more likely to develop unhealthy and harmful parenting styles if they have children. In short, authoritarian parenting, permissive parenting, and uninvolved parenting are the types of parenting styles that often result in children growing into adults who aren’t well-adapted to handling day-to-day life or relationships in a healthy manner. Authoritative parenting more often results in children who develop into well-adjusted adults.
How Can I Be A Less Permissive Parent?
As discussed in this article, there are several steps that you can take to be a less permissive parent and to adopt a healthier parenting style, like the authoritative style. First, establish rules and limits. Outline these clearly in a written list or via pictures if your child cannot read, and place the list where you and your child can both easily see it daily. These don’t have to be super strict or in-depth and can be things like, “brush your teeth each morning and night” or “clean your room every Sunday.” They can be simple and easy and will serve as setting the foundation for not only a healthy relationship with your child but a healthy life for them into adulthood while also helping you get used to and comfortable with a more authoritative parenting style rather than a permissive parenting style.
You should also reward these positive behaviors once they’re completed. For example, each completed task results in 20 minutes of extra screen time on the TV or a video game for that day. Conversely, failure to complete these set things should have a downfall, such as 20 minutes less screen time that day for each missed task. You must be consistent and firm, but not mean or strict. Listen to your child and empathize with them if they’re having a rough day, but do not make excuses for them. Do your best to distinguish when they should have a mental health break or when they need some tough love. Adopting this authoritative parenting style will benefit them as adults in figuring out when to cut themselves some slack and prioritize their mental health and make excuses for themselves, and need to buckle down. Conversely, permissive parenting styles can result in adults who do whatever they want whenever they want with little regard for consequences. In contrast, authoritarian parenting styles can result in adults who have issues with self-esteem, anxiety and can’t cut themselves any slack. The authoritative style is the best of both worlds, combining high warmth with high control to result in both parent and child being happy.
Can Yelling At A Child Be Harmful?
In short, yes – yelling at a child can absolutely be harmful! Typically, yelling, especially if employed often, is an example of the authoritarian parenting style, not to be confused with the authoritative parenting style. Authoritarian parents strongly value control but don’t utilize healthy ways to gain it and often yell, punish frequently and aggressively, and manipulate to get their children to do what they want. This parenting style doesn’t often listen to children, offer emotional support, or allow for any wiggle room no matter what. There are little warmth and little positive reinforcement for good behaviors, but undesired behaviors are very readily punished, often via yelling. This is incredibly damaging to children and results in anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, anti-social behaviors, and difficulty creating or maintaining healthy relationships in adulthood. Unlike authoritative parenting styles, this parenting style can make children hyper-vigilant to the emotions and negativity of others and may result in the form of PTSD whenever they hear raised voices, whether belonging to their parent or someone else. While you don’t want to adopt any indulgent parenting styles, nor do you want to go too far in the other direction with overly rigid parenting styles.
You should be very mindful of all of the different parenting styles, their possible consequences, and how to best interact with your child. While every family dynamic is different and every person is different, in general, the authoritative parenting style greatly trumps the other parenting styles in producing healthy relationships between parent and child and well-adjusted children that become well-adjusted and confident adults.
Yelling can, at times, have a place in any parenting style but should generally be reserved for when necessary (for example, your child has run into the street, and a car is coming). Yelling often is a parenting style that rarely yields positive results for your child, you, or your relationship long-term and can be very harmful to children and their emotional development. This has long-term consequences for your child’s relationships into adulthood, too – a child who was yelled at often may not do well with handling confrontation (even healthy confrontation) in adulthood and may struggle to hold onto healthy relationships for this reason.
Why is indulgent parenting good?
Which of the following is a characteristic of indulgent parents?
What is an example of indulgent parenting?
What can be the impact of over indulgence with children?
What is an example of indulgent parenting?
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