Moms and dads generally approach parenting from two different extremes. One extreme is unlimited freedom or liberty for the child to speak and behave. Generally, this approach believes that a child’s personality and creative bent can be hindered if restraints are placed upon him. A child needs to think, explore and experience all different kinds of things, and from these experiences he learns what is right and wrong and what he likes and doesn’t like. He is also forming the building blocks of his personality, character and future career choice. Any limiting of the child’s desires or actions could interfere with this development.
I understand the concern of these parents. But I am also concerned about what such liberty will do to a child in a negative way.
I knew a college professor who taught psychology and who held to this freedom-approach to parenting. He believed it was wrong to restrain children through any means other than reasoning with them and, when that failed, pleading with them. "Ok kids, please clean your rooms. Please. Please?!" Or, "Kids, don’t yell at your mother, and don’t call her stupid. Your mother has a right to her opinions, too. Please kids, be nice to her. Stop that." This man allowed his kids freedom of speech and behavior. One day, one of their sons who was about eight years old at the time got very belligerent toward the mother. When he stepped out onto the front porch she locked the door to keep him out. When found he was locked out, he became extremely angry, yelling at his mother and demanding to be allowed back in! When his mother didn’t allow him entry, the boy literally kicked the front door in. No parental action was taken against the boy.
In my opinion, this approach to parenting produces monsters. Children raised with too much liberty in decision making and behavior begin to think that everyone and everything else exists for their enjoyment. They can become abusive verbally and physically. They do not learn internal discipline. Later on, as older children, teenagers, and even adults, they will act out against anyone who tries to restrict them. If they never learn to respect parental authority, they will never respect any other authority, either teachers, policeman or God.
Furthermore, these children never learn the principle of behavior having consequences. If they are allowed to hit their little brother or sister and never get in trouble for it, then why should they get in trouble if they hit another child at school a few years later? When they are adults, if they speak harshly toward a co-worker on the job, why should they get reprimanded for that? If they steal candy bars or cars, why should they get in trouble with the law? The permissive style of parenting never prepared them to understand the principle of actions having consequences. What consequences can you see ahead for a child who is allowed too much liberty too early in life?