People who grew up with carefree parents often display these 9 behaviors

Permissive or free-range parenting is a subject of heated debate among parents and experts. Whether children raised in this manner are better or worse off for it seems to depend on who you ask.

So, let’s clear up a few misconceptions about permissive parenting. In a nutshell, the goal is to give kids the freedom to experience the natural consequences of their actions in a safe and supportive environment.

It’s also about making sure kids have the necessary skills to become well-adjusted, responsible adults.

It’s not about being neglectful or a doormat for snot-nosed brats. It’s letting kids be kids instead of expecting them to act like mini-adults.

Generally speaking, permissive parents are loving, laidback, and nurturing. They eschew making demands of their kid to avoid confrontations, and some permissive parents are more of a friend than an authority figure.

These parents are responsive to their children’s needs but are sometimes inconsistent with setting firm boundaries and following through on them. 

Although many child-rearing experts don’t support this style of parenting, children raised by permissive parents usually grow up to be self-confident, assertive, empathic, and creative adults.

These kids tend to be more resourceful than those with strict, authoritative parents and have high emotional intelligence.

But they can also be demanding, rebellious, and selfish, so it’s difficult for them to deal with the harsh realities of the outside world.

So, once again, the reviews are mixed, and I’ve fashioned this list to reflect that.

1) Poor decisions

Since their parents didn’t prioritize setting up any sort of hard and fast guidelines, their kids often have trouble learning effective problem-solving and decision-making skills.

When these kids become adults they are sometimes unequipped to make vital decisions or resolve problems in their life, because they lack experience with this type of situation. Their parents may have shielded them from any hardships while they were growing up.

However, a whole other slew of experts believe that permissive parenting allows kids to make decisions and take responsibility for their actions early on in life.

The autonomy afforded by this parenting style encourages the adoption of decision-making skills and instills an understanding of personal responsibility.

By having the room to make questionable choices and learning valuable lessons from the consequences, kids raised in more permissive homes have the confidence to be self-reliant and independent, which can help them navigate their personal and professional lives as adults. 

2) Less incidence of substance abuse

This is definitely one of the more controversial aspects of permissive parenting, with evidence pointing in two different directions.

Some research studies conclude that permissive parenting provides the same shield against risky behavior, including substance abuse, that an authoritative parenting style does.

Still other studies suggest that children who grow up in permissive homes tend to have a higher risk of substance abuse as an adult. 

The research theorizes that kids in a permissive or free-range environment tend to internalize their emotions because they never learn how to express their feelings in a healthy manner. 

3) Poor time management 

Some people believe that thanks to the lack of structure in the home, these kids grow up never learning limits. Since they never learn to limit themselves, they may be prone to behavior like watching too much TV, playing video games for hours on end, and overeating.

On the other hand, conflicting studies find that this parenting style actually encourages kids to develop their independence at a young age. 

Since the child makes their own decisions regarding extra-curricular activities like afterschool clubs, sports, hobbies, or hanging out with friends, they learn to balance their time demands from childhood, which provides them an advantage later in life.

4) Better self-esteem

One of the more positive aspects of permissive parenting is the emphasis on effective two-way communication between the parents and their child. 

That parenting technique instills high self-esteem in children because they know their parents are always in their corner no matter how badly they mess up.

Although it’s believed that authoritative parenting results in better outcomes academically, permissive parenting methods produce better outcomes for the child’s self-esteem and social well-being down the road.

When kids are allowed to express themselves freely, their confidence grows along with the willingness to try new stuff without fearing the consequences. Because unconditional parental love is vital for raising a child who values themselves.

Permissive parenting has the potential to inspire kids to explore new horizons with a greater sense of security and confidence.

5) Difficulty regulating negative feelings

One school of thought suggested that kids who aren’t taught how to manage emotions like disappointment and anger may struggle to cope with challenges as an adult.

This study concludes that permissive parenting may negatively affect the development of some emotional skills by limiting your kids’ exposure to upsetting emotional experiences. 

But then there’s the camp which reports positive findings regarding the coping mechanisms and social skills of children raised in permissive households. 

Flip a coin, anyone?

6) Superior social skills 

Kids with permissive parents often enjoy a higher level of social connection because they’re so adept at expressing their emotions and understanding the feelings of others.

A study examining empathy among toddlers found that kids with indulgent mothers had higher levels of empathy than kids from stricter backgrounds. 

Kids who cultivate independence from their earliest childhood have fewer problems with separation anxiety. These are the kids who run in the door all excited on the first day of kindergarten while the other littles are clinging to their parents like a life preserver.

7) Strong relationship with parents

Parents who decide to take the permissive approach do so out of a genuine desire to form a strong bond with their children. Like most parents, they want their kids to be happy, healthy, and well-adjusted.

There are various reasons why this might be an attractive option for new parents. Many people who adopt this style of parenting had emotionally unfulfilling relationships with their own parents growing up.

Their traumatic childhood memories from their childhood inspire them to ensure that their own children never experience that kind of pain and confusion.

Kids with permissive parents are more comfortable and relaxed talking to their parents about their lives because they don’t have to fear punishment or negative consequences for being honest. 

For example, sometimes parents must choose a course of action for the whole family during a crossroads moment, such as making a big move. In permissive homes, kids are included in the decision-making process because they are considered equal members of the family. 

They have a voice and are encouraged to use it. This inclusion helps build a strong bond between the child and their parents.

The permissive parenting philosophy stresses being a friend to a child as well as a parent. Although controversial, this approach allows the parents to understand their children on a deeper level, and communication remains fluid and easy as the kid grows up.

In fact, there’s evidence that more responsive parenting methods allow kids to develop secure attachments to their caregivers. 

And isn’t that what it’s all about? 

8) Rebellious

Over time, the dearth of specific boundaries in a permissive home can have unintended results.

Parents who don’t enforce certain restrictions with their kids can set them up for clashes with teachers and other authority figures.

Instilling a backbone in a child. Oh no. How horrible. 

Personally, I see rebellion and questioning authority as virtues worth cultivating, so I’m putting this one in the ‘win’ column. 

9) Creative free-thinkers

When children have fewer limits imposed on them, they are free to experiment with different hobbies and explore their passions.

Children who grow up in a permissive environment are encouraged to think outside the box and easily tap into their huge store of creativity.

People who choose a permissive parenting style want their children growing up to be free-thinkers. They hope to create an environment that encourages a child to develop their full potential without the burden of dogma.

That’s why kids from this sort of background usually score higher on intelligence tests and also have a solid emotional IQ as well.

Final thoughts 

In recent years, the permissive parenting style has enjoyed renewed popularity thanks to “free-range” parenting, a philosophy that very closely mirrors the traditional permissive parenting methods.

For example, aspects of free-range parenting include natural consequences and learning to be independent and resourceful. All noble goals.

Obviously, there are almost countless theories regarding how much freedom kids can handle. For every study condemning permissive parenting, there’s another singing its praises.

As parents, all you can do is arm yourself with information, love the heck out of your kid, and hope for the best.

Kathy Copeland Padden

Kathy Copeland Padden lives in a New England forest paradise with her cats, kid, and trusty laptop. She has been writing since age 8 and is such a pack rat she can back that up with physical evidence. Music is her solace and words are her drug, so her house is strewn with records and books. Watch your step.

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