Laissez-faire is a French term meaning “leave alone.” It is an economic philosophy that advocates for an unregulated free market.
The idea is that the best way to promote economic growth and development is to allow people and businesses to operate freely without government interference.
What is Laissez Faire Parenting
Laissez-faire parenting is a hands-off parenting style that emphasizes allowing children to grow independently without their parents’ interference. Parents believe that when children are allowed to explore, experiment, and make mistakes, they can develop self-confidence and independence.
Also known as permissive parenting, laissez-faire parenting does not impose rules or boundaries. Children are encouraged to make their own decisions and try new things, even if that means failing along the way.
Laissez-faire parents do not hover over their children or constantly tell them how to behave. They step in only when there is an obvious danger or immediate risk of harm.
These parents have a lot of trust in their children.
Nevertheless, too much freedom that poses a danger to a child may amount to child neglect.
Impacts of Laissez-Faire Parenting
Parenting styles can be categorized into four types, according to developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind based on the degrees of responsiveness and demandingness.
They are authoritative parenting style, authoritarian parenting style, permissive parenting style, and neglectful parenting style.
Of the four types of parenting styles, permissive parenting is associated with several negative effects on children.
Here are some of the negative child outcomes.
Worse Academic performance
Lack of rules and undemanding are characteristics of laissez-faire parenting. Parents tend to be uninvolved in children’s education. These children tend to be worse in academic achievement1.
A lack of involvement or teaching from parents tends to result in children having difficulty controlling themselves.
Children have poor self-control2 because they are often not held accountable for their actions. Their unruly behavior is allowed to continue unchecked.
Laissez-faire parenting is associated with more externalizing behavior like impulsive behavior and aggressive behavior.
These adolescents are also more likely to engage in antisocial behaviors, such as delinquency3.
Laissez-faire parents tend to lack verbal and behavioral control.
Studies have found that children with laissez-faire parents are significantly associated with a lack of emotional intelligence4.
Such children tend to have trouble regulating their negative emotions.
Alcohol and Substance use
Researchers have found that alcohol consumption is highest in children with laissez-faire parents5.
These children also have a higher rate of drug use, according to studies6.
Mental Health problems
Children raised with this parenting style have more mental health issues.
College students with permissive upbringings have more difficulty adjusting to more personal responsibility and independence when they start college, contrary to their laissez-faire parents’ hopes.
It was found that a larger number of them seek mental health services through college counseling centers.
Also See: Top 10 Best Parenting Advice
How to Stop Laissez-Faire Parenting
Laissez parenting is the opposite of helicopter parenting.
It’s when you are too hands-off and don’t do enough to help your children learn important life skills.
To change this type of parenting style and practice optimal parenting, follow these steps.
Adopt a new mindset
Parents use the permissive style in their parenting for various reasons.
Some think it is the best way to raise self-sufficient and independent children, while others believe it is an effective way to allow their children to learn from their own mistakes.
The first step to change this parenting practice is to recognize that children need guidance on behavior.
Being supportive and giving children autonomy does have its advantages, but it must be done with guidance instead of having them reinvent everything from scratch.
Discussion, not speech
If you decide to set some family rules, involve your kids in creating them.
Discuss the reasons why you need those rules, and together come up with reasonable consequences if they are broken.
Laissez-faire parents can easily adopt new rules using natural consequences instead of imposing artificial ones.
Set only realistic rules, as discussed next.
Realistic Rules and Follow through
Enforcing is perhaps the toughest part of transitioning from laissez-faire parenting.
It’s easy to say “no” or “stop” or “get dressed,” but it’s another thing entirely to actually follow through and put your foot down.
Therefore, it’s crucial to have realistic rules and reasonable expectations.
Only to set household rules you know you can follow.
Inconsistent parenting is the major reason why many lax parents fail to stop being permissive.
Without consistent discipline, children will think that strict rules are flexible and try to break them.
Remember, your children are learning something new.
They are adjusting to the fact that they can’t do whatever they want, whenever they want, anymore.
That’s a big change for everyone.
Be extra patient with them as they adjust to this new life.
There will always be pushback when it comes to life’s changes.
If they do, they are not being defiant. They are being human.
You are doing this for their own good, so explain why. Also, set the expectation that you will no longer be a laissez-faire parent but an involved teacher.
As a parent, you have a lot on your plate. The demands of your career, the needs of your family, and society’s expectations are all competing for your attention.
You will have an even bigger workload as a result of this change in parenting strategies.
A key to a happy life is having patience with your children and taking good care of yourself.
Be patient when things don’t work out right away. Children, in particular, cannot be expected to change their behavior overnight.
Don’t write it off as a failure when it doesn’t work at first.
There is also no need to change everything all at once.
When your children get used to the new rules at home, you can increase their scopes.
Also See: Permissive Parenting Style
- 1.Masud H, Thurasamy R, Ahmad MS. Parenting styles and academic achievement of young adolescents: A systematic literature review. Qual Quant. Published online October 30, 2014:2411-2433. doi:10.1007/s11135-014-0120-x
- 2.Alizadeh S, Abu Talib MB, Abdullah R, Mansor M. Relationship between Parenting Style and Children’s Behavior Problems. ASS. Published online November 29, 2011. doi:10.5539/ass.v7n12p195
- 3.Okorodudu G. Influence of parenting styles on adolescent delinquency in delta central senatorial district. ejoc. Published online March 12, 2010. doi:10.4314/ejc.v3i1.52682
- 4.Jabeen F, Anis-ul-Haque M, Riaz MN. Parenting styles as predictors of emotion regulation among adolescents. Pakistan Journal of Psychological Research. 2013;28(1).
- 5.MONTGOMERY C, FISK JE, CRAIG L. The effects of perceived parenting style on the propensity for illicit drug use: the importance of parental warmth and control. Drug and Alcohol Review. Published online November 2008:640-649. doi:10.1080/09595230802392790
- 6.Carver H, Elliott L, Kennedy C, Hanley J. Parent–child connectedness and communication in relation to alcohol, tobacco and drug use in adolescence: An integrative review of the literature. Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy. Published online September 26, 2016:119-133. doi:10.1080/09687637.2016.1221060