You have a Permissive Parenting Style - what does that mean?

Thanks for taking the Parenting Styles Quiz. If you did not take the quiz, please click here to find out what parenting style you have with our parenting styles quiz (opens new window). If you did take the quiz and have an Authoritative Parenting Style, read on...

# What are parenting styles?

Your kids’ genes don’t determine everything about their development and neither do their environments (including your parenting). Instead, their genes, your parenting, their friend groups, and many other factors all combine to play important roles in their development. Parenting style is one important factor that influences how kids develop.

Parenting style refers to the strategies that you use to raise, interact with, support, and discipline your child. There are three common parenting styles: authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive.

Based on your responses to this questionnaire, your parenting style is best described as permissive.

# What is permissive parenting?

Your parenting style is defined by high responsiveness towards your kid and low demandingness. This parenting style is categorized as being warm and attentive to your kids’ emotions and not setting firm rules or boundaries. This style is relaxed and focused on your kids’ freedom as opposed to obedience.

# What does this look like?

Your relationship with your kids may look more like a friendship than some traditional parent-child relationships. You want your kids to come to you with any problems they are facing, and you want to support them emotionally.

Overall, you are pretty lenient and take a hands-off approach to parenting. You may put your kids’ desires and freedom above rules (if you have rules). You also might give your kids the opportunity to make big decisions for themselves or the family.

You are great at showing your kids warmth but setting boundaries and disciplining your child may not come as naturally to you or may not be something you value in your parenting.

You may not have firm rules or boundaries in your family, or you might have rules that you don’t enforce. You also might try to get your kids to follow rules by bribing them, instead of disciplining them. Let’s look at how boundaries and rules play out for permissive parents…

For example, you might have an idea of a set amount of time that you want your kids to use screens. If you have this rule, you are lenient with it. So, if your kids complain about the rule or begs to change the rule on a given day, you might give in and allow them to use screens longer that day.

You validate their emotions but also give in to their desire to change the limits because you don’t want to upset your kids. In the end, you let them do what they want.

Let’s consider family chores as another example. You may have set expectations that your kids do their dishes every night after dinner. Imagine that one of your kids tells you that they had a rough day at school, and they do not want to do the dishes that night.

Instead of enforcing this and expecting that your kids do their dishes immediately after dinner, you might not provide any discipline and you might just do the dishes yourself.

Permissive parenting style is associated with mixed outcomes for kids.

On the plus side, kids with permissive parents (like you!) tend to feel loved and to have close relationships with their parents.

However, kids raised by permissive parents may struggle with things like self-control, setting boundaries, and discipline, since they are not used to following firm rules or boundaries at home. Kids with permissive parents may also struggle with their academic performance without parents enforcing the importance of completing their academic work.

Kids with permissive parents may be at increased risk for mental health and behavioral problems. For example, kids who were raised by permissive parents may be at increased risk of alcohol use and behavioral problems in adolescence and may also be at increased risk for depression. As a reminder, this is not true for all kids with parents who use a permissive style, this just indicates that the rates of these problems may be higher in kids with permissive parents.

These kids may also struggle to regulate their emotions and impulsivity so they may become more aggressive. What is the connection between permissive parenting, emotion regulation, and impulsivity? Emotion regulation is learned through practice, so if kids are not encouraged to think about their behavior and impulsivity at home through discipline, they may not learn to regulate these feelings and behaviors.

# Now that you know your parenting style can be categorized as permissive, where do you go from here?

You are doing a great job showing your kids warmth and emotional support. Keep doing that! You might want to consider increasing your expectations for your kids by setting and enforcing boundaries and rules.

For example, if your kids don’t want to do the dishes one night, explain to them the importance of doing the dishes and why the rule matters to you. Then, talk to them about the consequences if they do not do the dishes. If they do not do the dishes, don’t yell or stop providing warmth, but do enforce the consequences for their behavior.

Research suggests that the parenting style with the most positive outcomes is authoritative parenting. This parenting style is categorized by a balance of high emotional responsiveness (which you are already doing!) and high expectations (which may be an area of growth for you).

To become a more authoritative parent, you will want to keep providing warmth and nurturance towards your kids while also working on setting and enforcing clear boundaries and rules - these often provide benefits to your kids’ physical and mental health. Check out the results for authoritative parents (opens new window) and a guide about how to be a more authoritative parent (opens new window).

Being aware of what is going on in your kids’ lives can help you to best understand their feelings and needs. You are already doing a great job of responding to your kids’ emotions, but every parent can work on getting to know their kids better through healthy communication. Check out this guide for more information (opens new window).

Another way to build your relationship with your kids is by modeling good communication during tough conversations. This can be a great way to show your kids warmth while also using clear and direct communication, the balance to strive for if you are working towards authoritative parenting. Need some help with communication in difficult conversations? Check out this guide for some helpful tips (opens new window).

Parenting can be tough, and it can be easy to feel like you are not doing enough. Remember, parenting styles play a role in your kids’ development, but there are also many other factors that influence your kids. If you feel that you are blaming yourself or worrying about how your kids will turn out based on your parenting, check out these articles:

And please don’t forget, it is important to take care of yourself as a parent! Parents who take care of themselves are most able to make mindful parenting decisions. Taking care of yourself also models good self-care for your kids. Here are some tips for how to take care of yourself as a parent (opens new window).

Want to learn more about authoritative parenting? Check out the links below:


Want to learn about the other parenting styles:


# Do you or your child need support right now?

If you or your child are in a crisis situation please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, as well as prevention and crisis resources for you and your loved ones.

If you're not in crisis but would like to connect with an online counselor (through our partnership with Betterhelp), please use one of these links: