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March 21, 2010


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I'm with you sister.


Permissive parenting only works for a certain type of parent. I've seen too many permissive parents (mine included) who would let things go and get angrier and angrier at a misbehaving kid and then lash out when they got fed up. This style also does not produce happy kids.

But let's be honest with ourselves - we don't have that much control over our children's future happiness. What we do have control over is our happiness. A family works best (I'm guessing) when a parent uses the style they are most comfortable with. And maybe confident, comfortable parents are the best model for a child to have...whether they are permissive, authoritarian, or authoritative.

Kelly, The Glass Dragonfly

Balance is key! For flip's sake, her final paragraph makes it sound like "oh well..." and it makes me more than a little ill. On the other side I've heard that corporations are incorporating "orientation" for parents of new hires...this includes "adults" who have graduated from college. This is ridiculous!!

My daughter and I are close, but I let her decide and manage her college (and high school) experience. When she was a kid, I guided, I supported, I had expectations, I explained why. Providing an experienced voice and teaching responsibility are a part of the parenting role.

I've had (have) my issues with letting go after Mayan's accident and Sunny's loss, but I work really hard at letting go of those things because I know it is important. It would have been detrimental to Mayan and her future for me to cling too hard.

Balance! I scream it from the rooftops!!

From what I can see, you do it well! Alive and happy is a great, reasonable and responsible goal.

Reluctant Blogger

Yes, I think I am rather like you although three of my children are younger.

I give them quite a lot of freedom but alongside that they get a lot of advice and guidance (lectures they call it!) and it is most certainly not unlimited freedom and in a sense they have to earn extensions to it by proving time and again that they can be reasonably sensible and respond appropriately to unexpected situations.

I do let them do a lot of supervised high risk activities - freestyle skiing, climbing, biking - but that's in the hope that it is better that they do it in a relatively safe environment and that it will satisfy their desire for risky activities and teach them their limits.

But I very against caging children and taking away their childhood even if it does mean they are preserved unharmed for adulthood.


Boy that is a tough one! I have two older kids and three younger kids. We generally give them enough room to hang themselves while they are young enough that we can help save them from their bad decisions. The oldest has dome really well with that one. The second oldest has made poor decision after poor decision. To the point where we drew the line in the sand and said, if you can't follow the rules in this house, then out you go. (We never ever thought he would take us seriously) Well, he took us up on our offer when he was a senior and has been living with friends ever since. I do not financially support him, becasue I am not going to enable him anymore. He did graduate from school and is attending the local community college. Many people in this town think I am a horrible parent, "kicking him out like that". But rarely do I challenge them to show me how to raise a chronically roaming, chronic risk taking son. Nor do I tell them how many sleepless nights I have spent on that boy, or talks with the police, or $ I have spent on counseling, pyschiatric stays, or heartbreak. I also don't use him as example to the younger kids. They saw it with there own eyes growing up what one wild child does to his mom's heart. Do I hold on a little tighter to my youngest son? Absolutely, and really try to ease my grip a little.I always have an eye on my kids, but try and step back a little so that they can pick themselves up.

Jen on the Edge

Until a few years ago, I was a helicopter parent, with occasional forays into tank parenting (down in the trenches with my kids). Now I'm trying to find more of a balance and occasionally dip into permissive parenting. I have one child I can trust more and one child I have to watch like a hawk (no impulse control and a lot of near-misses on her record). Luckily, it's the older one who's responsible, so I can use her age as the reason why I allow her to do more.

busy bee suz

I am with you. There must be balance.

I was raised as free range...but I got into a bit of trouble too out there on my own. I was not 'attended to' very much. In this day and age, it could lead to a horrible end.

Student Mum

I found that final paragraph horrific - and was also amazed at the responders who agreed with her 'better to die free' message.
I am neither a helicoptor nor a free range parent. Something in the middle I hope. Children, imo, need and feel safest with boundaries. They need the freedom to push against those boundaries, but with the parent as a safety net. The child that died had no safety net. Letting a child out to 'play in the traffic', which is basically what happened, is neglect.


That last paragraph of hers *is* a shocker. I am appalled over the cavalier attitude of both of those parents regarding the death of the child.

I'm not all that fond of parenting labels. Sure, they make it easy to categorize, but 100 years ago, we were simply called parents.
I've napped while my young children played (hello, pregnancy!) and I've said many things to my boys that my husband immediately called silly and overprotective nonsense. We hang out at home together, but that is mostly because 3 out of 4 boys are introverts just like their father.
I have a friend who is crushed over the bad decisions of her teenager; she is taking the teens actions and choices as a slap in the face after all she has done for this kid. While I don't deny the hurt and agony she is going through, I'm afraid she has put too much of herself into her child (the kid is almost 18 and is at an age where kids grow up and pull away).
I strive for balance and pray that my husband and I can truly teach our children well.

green girl in Wisconsin

I'm in the middle, like you. Moderation in all things, right? I don't hover because kids learn from natural consequences and failure teaches grace and perseverance. I don't "live and let live" because they are my responsibility and my job is to keep them safe and teach them right. They have set bedtimes and have to eat veg and behave with respect. But they also get to run free in the woods and test their boundaries without me checking in every hour, too.

Mama Hen Em

I think that I naturally tend towards authoritarian, as that is how I was raised. What I strive for is authoritative. My siblings are spread out over 15 years and as the second oldest raised with strict rules, I watched my youngest siblings be raised very, very permissively. Both of them were rewarded by stints in drug rehab, jail and broken lives. My brother nearly died in a car accident at age 15. I think that for me, parenting is that tricky line between giving them their freedom to learn from mistakes, but understanding that depending on age and maturity level, I am required to place safe guards in their lives. The heartache my family has been through is always at the back of my mind and it is through that filter that I try to find the right balance.


I read that book too Jenn, but could not tell you the title! I also completely agree with balance being extremely important. I'm very lucky to have two "naturally straight arrow" kids, at least for now.

I do have to rein in my daughter now and then, but I think it's because she's very trusting and tends to be naive about the "bad people" and the bad things that could happen out in the big world.


Laissez faire with a fence.


I aim for authoritative, but definitely have a few panic-induced helicopter moments. For the most part, as my kids get older, I find that if I explain the reasoning behind my rules, they respect them more. And along the same lines, they know that they are always welcome to voice their opinions about said rules, as long as they're able to do so in a reasonable (non-whiny/shouty) tone of voice. Otherwise, no deal.


I parent according to each child's needs (not wishes). Having a special needs child as my youngest means I need to parent her differently than my self governing college daughter and my passive-beyond-belief oldest daughter. If one parenting style worked for all three, life would have been so much easier...


A little at a time people; a little at a time. We gave them freedom in small areas, with a watchful eye, when they were young. With freedom comes decision making; if they made poor decisions at a young age – when the stakes were low – they had an opportunity to learn in a safe environment. We gradually increased that freedom as they got older; allowed them to take on more responsibility for their own lives. We were there for guidance when requested and we monitored from afar. They are in college now, both doing well. We’ll trust them until they give us a reason NOT to.


There is a lot to discuss here, but my first thought at the conclusion was for that dad. He had the presence of mind to give the author's boy a real gift in the midst of his own tragedy. That, I am thoroughly impressed with.


what has happened to just parenting with common sense? I think we label too much, trying to fit ourselves into a specific parenting style.
I'm going to start a new parenting style...called the Common Sense Parent ;)


I don't have kids, but I beat my dogs...does that count? Said firmly tongue in cheek...my dog is laying here next to me as he's been most of the day


My teen(15) thinks I am like Goldilocks porridge....not too hot, not too cold...just right.
She has friends who have had some serious issues in the last year and it has made her very aware of how different parents impact their childrens lives.
One friend...no supervision and very little support. My daughter feels sad for her because she feels like her friend should have someone who cares what she is doing. Of course when she makes a wrong decision they then come down on her like a ton of bricks.
Another friend...not allowed to do anything. Very strictly controlled and watched over. Fighting her parents for every breath of freedom, which has been really harmful to their relationship.

It's a journey isn't it...protecting them, preparing them, and then letting them step out on their own when the time is right..


I'm pretty sure I'm an authoritative parent. My parenting style is much like my teaching style.

Sometimes I'm probably more free range, but hardly ever authoritarian.

Great post!


My husband had very few rules when he was a youngster. Sometimes I really wonder how he managed to grow into a responsible (and felony free) adult! :) It will be interesting as we become parents ourselves this summer to see how he and I handle things differently, as I definitely had authoritative parents. (Obviously, we have talked about this at length -- but need to continue to do so!)

Baby Favorite

I'm with you (as usual), Jenn. A happy medium is key, and watching out for our kids -- when necessary -- is our JOB as a parent.

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