By Carol Lloyd
While shopping, your seven-year-old son begs for a special cookie (even though he's already had his share of treats that day). You say:
A. "Not a chance. You should know better than to ask me for one right before we have dinner."
B. "OK, you've been such a good boy, you deserve a cookie." He seems to have his heart set and, after all, it's only one cookie.
C."No, you’ve already had plenty of treats – pick something healthy instead."
D. "Don’t nag me. What I spend my money on is up to me."
Are you frequently the parent who picks B? You’re not alone. Permissive parenting is common in this day of busy schedules, harried two-worker families, and a feeling that we just don’t get enough quality time with our kids. We love them to death! Why must we say, "No" all the blooming time?
Unfortunately, indulging our children’s every wish can have unfortunate consequences both for the child and the parent. Children can end up feeling entitled to getting what they want, not what they need: the self-restraint, patience, and other character traits that will help them succeed in life. Parents who give in to the short-term battles about the extra toy or the chore that never gets done face bigger battles down the road when the child is used to running the show: fudging on homework, back talking parents, or simply not behaving responsibly.
Here’s the ticket: your love. Permissive parents are deeply in touch with their overwhelming affection for their children, which is no small thing. The problem? Sometimes these parents aren’t thinking about the long-term consequences of their parenting choices. So don’t dismiss your desire to make your child happy. Instead, consider their long-term happiness a little more.
When you find yourself in a permissive parenting conundrum, ask yourself, "What will make my child happy tomorrow, or next week, or in ten years?" The answer may make you seem a little stricter in the moment, but you’ll know that you’re acting from your deepest impulse, your love for your child.
Next: Hands-off parenting »
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