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)
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