In the first two week of this 4-part series on parenting styles, we’ve discussed Authoritarian Parenting and Neglectful / Uninvolved Parenting. We’ve learned that both of these styles of parenting have negative short-term and long-term effects on children and aren’t recommended for parents today.
This week, in our third parenting style of the series, we’ll take a look at Indulgent Parenting and the short-term and long-term impact on children’s development and behaviors.
This style of parenting—which has become increasingly more common in the past few years—is when adults truly love and stay involved in the lives of their children, but place few demands, limits or responsibilities on their children. Indulgent parents enjoy allowing their children to do what they want, purchase their children gifts for no significant reason and may even feel guilty over providing any sort of guidance or discipline to their child because they just want their child to feel happy.
Sometimes, parents elect to use this style of parenting because they want their children to experience as much joy as possible in their life; other times, parents believe that parenting in this way helps to produce creative, free-spirited and confident children who have had the opportunity to make most of their own decisions in life. However, what it actually causes is children who have poor self-control because they aren’t used to being told what to do by others; it leads to children who are unprepared for any aspect of life that requires them to follow the directions of others or the rules set by others. These children may struggle to share, develop empathy for the feelings of others and manage their behaviors.
As adults, children raised by this style of parenting are likely to struggle in social relationships, including friendships and romantic relationships. Since these children are used to getting what they want and being in control of most things that happen in their life, they have difficulty getting along with anyone who has thoughts, feelings and opinions of their own (i.e. everyone else!). Romantic relationships become difficult because the adult child likely lacks empathy for the feelings of the partner, desires to control the relationship in whatever way he sees fit, and lacks self-control and therefore may throw an adult-style temper tantrum whenever he doesn’t get what he wants.
All of these characteristics can also be transferred to the working world. A child raised with this style of parenting may react the same way with co-workers and employers that he does with friendships and romantic relationships. These children are at increased risk of showing opposition to doing anything that a person of authority asks them to do unless it’s something that they want to do. Because the child wasn’t taught the appropriate and healthy hierarchy that helps the world flow, the adult child believes that she is at the top of the hierarchy in every situation.
In summary, the Indulgent Parenting style contributes to children that most adults today would describe as spoiled. They are given too much freedom to make their own choices, and not enough guidance or correction when they make the wrong choices. These children become selfish, indulgent, controlling and non-compliant with healthy authority figures, and grow into adults with similar behaviors. As a result, they aren’t great friends, significant others, or employees.
Once again, much of the research shared in this article comes from this book by John Santrock.
Up next: Authoritative Parenting