The Permissive Parent

. January 31, 2016.
breaking-dad-aafp-2-16

One type of parent I have never understood is the permissive parent. How is this a positive way to raise a child? I’m not a strict disciplinarian by any stretch of the imagination, but I also understand that children need structure and boundaries. Quite often permissiveness starts at young ages, manifesting itself by parents buying all kinds of needless junk for their children to avoid tantrums. It gets exponentially worse by the teenage years.

You’ve seen them. Moms who want to relive their glamourous years through their teenage daughters. Dads who are more interested in being their son’s dude-bro, rather than raising him to be a man. Huge amounts of scorn and ridicule need to be heaped on these people, not the least of which comes from the teenagers themselves. No teen thinks their parents are cool. They will manipulate your attempts at “coolness” into all sorts of privileges. But never will they think you are cool.

Besides, is there any person less cool than a teenager? Why would I or any parent with an ounce of sense want to emulate these creatures? Is it really cool to have your face buried in an iPhone all day? Is it really cool to obsess over whatever loser pop culture fad du jour kids are into? 

For the most part, teens are flailing wildly in an effort to find themselves in a way that captures their originality. Think back to the Goth kids from high school, they all dressed the same in an effort to show their non-conformity. Teens latch on to fads and formulae not realizing that it takes years to discover your authentic self. Patience is not a strong characteristic in a teenager.

For the most part, teens should be allowed to flail away. The path to your authentic self has many detours. The job of a parent is to help the teenager stay true to the core values with which you have raised them.

The type of permissive parent that irks me is the one who feels the need to tell their kid how cool they were when they were teenagers. Believe me, your kid doesn’t need to know how much of a rebel you were, how you liked Nirvana before anyone else, and about the times you hung out in your friend’s basement for some 4:20 refreshment. Whatever you think was cool about your teenage years is just old people stuff to a current teenager.

Lastly, you aren’t doing society any favors by encouraging a teenager’s “the world revolves around me” mentality. The sooner these snowflakes realize they aren’t special, the better for all of us. Every one of us is unique, but none of us are special. Especially teenagers.

Jeremy Rosenberg gave up the corporate rat race years ago to become a freelance writer and graduate student, as well as a stay-at-home dad to his two children, Jack and Eva. He also enjoys playing the guitar and letting his cats fall asleep on his lap.