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The 4 Styles of Parenting: Part 1 Permissive

parenting styles Feb 02, 2023

The Background:

The four parenting styles were developed by Dr. Diane Baumrind in the 1980’s at UC Berkeley. Dr. Baumrind and her team observed and interviewed hundreds of parents. From this study, Dr. Buamrind developed her theory that there were common elements of all parenting styles. Parenting styles ranged from low to high responsiveness and low to high demandingness.

What is Permissive Parenting?

Permissive parenting is the style Baumrind described based on her work as high responsiveness and low demandingness. Parents who are permissive want to meet their child’s needs with warmth. The permissive parent’s most important goal is that their children know that they are seen and that their needs will be met. This style comes from a deep place of caring.

Parents who are Permissive Parents may actively choose this style or they may be inadvertently choosing this style. 

Active Choice

Parents who actively choose permissive parenting want to create a warm, loving environment. They are focused on supporting their child to develop social and emotional skills tailored to their children. They want their children to lead the way which will lead to high self-esteem and high self-respect

Inadvertent Choice

Parents may inadvertently choose permissive parenting in reaction to their own childhood experiences. We have all had the moment in our childhoods where we have said “I’ll never do that to/say that to my child”. Most likely these parents felt controlled and manipulated. In reaction to that they want their children to feel they have a say and they have power in their lives. 

Pros - Strong Connection to Self and Needs

This style of parenting is focused on the child’s well-being and needs. Children with permissive parents know deeply that their parents will respond to them. They develop a strong sense of self and needs and can have a high sense of self-esteem

Cons - Too Much Power, Not the Right Time

Because they want their children to have choice and voice, permissive parents ask their children for input. This is a great thing if it’s done in a developmentally appropriate way. The younger the child the more simple input needs to be. An extreme example might be letting children choose what they eat. If a child refuses to eat fruits or vegetables and prefers high fat or high sugar foods, the child could become malnourished. In this scenario, children are eating enough calories to sustain them, however,  they are not taking in enough nutrient-dense foods to support their cognitive and physical growth.


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