Google+ Authentic Parenting: Authentic Parenting vs Permissive Parenting

Friday, August 13, 2010

Authentic Parenting vs Permissive Parenting

Give your child a piece of candy when they ask for it and you are immediately labelled a permissive parent. Worse... do anything your child want and you're 'that type' of parent, the kind that is frowned upon. The kind that lets their respectless children run around stomping on others without as much as a word. The thing my grandmother calls free education.

As alluring as the terminology 'free education' sounds, that is not what we do. What my grandmother was pointing at (when she said that was what I was doing and I would reap sour grapes) was the kind of education Dutch kids got while we were growing up. Basically they just ran around unsupervized and weren't even adressed when the vandalized other people's property or physically or verbally hurt others.

Gentle parenting/discipline, or even radical unschooling, as far as I go is nothing of the sort. It is not about raising disrespectful children, quite on the contrary. It is about respecting the child and its integrity. About offering them choices and freedom, yes, but not without boundary. Not when it surpasses common logic or borders criminality.

Permissive parenting is allowing your child to do whatever, even if it goes against everything you believe in. In gentle parenting/authentic parenting, it's about offering choices, but within certain limitations.

For me, the boundaries are (not in any specific order):
vandalising people's property (while at home I see to it our property doesn't get vandalized by keeping the things I don't want broken away - for now. Everything that's around can be smeared and crayonned... except the walls but that wasn't a problem for long)
physically hurting others (animals and people alike)
endangering themselves
and later on verbal abuse will be on the list

But apart from that, yes, basically anything goes. Which does mean that indeed when she wants to watch the simpsons for two hours, she can. When she asks for candy, se can have it... But these things don't happen quite as often as you would imagine.

Image: Leonid Mamchenkov on Flickr



  1. You're right -- raising respectful children is the goal. And I think there is more than one way to get there!

  2. Thanks for writing this. I'm determined to not spank or be one of THOSE parents who is always yelling and smacking and saying no... but my parents are always saying I'm going to have spoiled, disrespectful kids because of it. Thanks for the reassurance.

  3. Reading your post I've realized that authentic parenting is what my mom gave me, and I must say that I consider myself a very polite and respectful person. I loathe violence in all its forms and I'm a healthy and organized person. So, being 35 years old now, I can say authentic parenting does work.


  4. How lovely to read this, Erin. Especially after I've been having too many discussions lately that there's either autoritative or permissive, but something entirely different doesn't exist. Even though authentic, peaceful parenting may look permissive, there is a huge distinction. Thank you for your comment

  5. I think a large part of the problem with people's mis-perception of "authentic parenting" is that our culture doesn't respect children...or believe they deserve it. The very idea of permissiveness is one of control and hierarchy and therefore foreign to notions of trust and respect. Maybe that's also why some families end up over-reacting against authority and move to the other extreme. Maybe after we have raised enough people like Erin (and my kids and yours!), our culture will slowly begin to understand authentic, peaceful parenting.

  6. I couldn't agree more, Wendy. I think Respect and trust are key... and are especially lacking in our culture. One of the things about permissive parenting is that those are often parents who want to do it differently but who have never learned to respect themselves.

  7. Thank you for writing this, I am aiming for authentic parenting and keep having my MIL and mother wringing their hands saying I'm ruining them...


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