ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Extremes in Parenting

Updated on November 6, 2015

Punitive Parenting

Just as there is a vast difference between ‘punishment’ and ‘discipline’, so also between ‘punitive’ and ‘correction’. Likewise, some parents worry so much about becoming punitive, they become over permissive and neglect discipline. Learning this, and the dangers and outcome of punitive or permissive parenting is essential to altering the direction of relationship between parent and child from one of hostility and rebellion to warmth and cooperation.

Punitive patterns emerge when the parent enters into an oppositional relationship with the child. While it is expected that children become oppositional, parents make no gains, or worse yet, begin to make damages to the relationship when they are punitive. A parent needs to resist meeting a child’s opposition with their own opposition; this is not always easy to do, because our children know exactly how to ‘push our buttons’ to get us to react. And it is that internal, emotional negative reactivity that sets up the hostile and rebellious relationship, and leads to punitive parenting.

Parents often state the cliché: ‘I never punish when I am angry’. Nice try. If you can do that, you are superhuman and the only one on the planet to ever do that. The fact that you are punishing, not giving consequences is proof that you are angry. Let’s be honest: when our child is being ornery, we get angry and want to ‘get them back’.

When we punish children (or anyone, even our spouse), we create a contest with a scoreboard. And like any competitive event, the score gets higher and strategies get more elaborate to beat the other person. Punitive parenting is no different. If you choose a pattern of punitive punishment, you will never win. Why? Because your child has been learning all along from you how to punish and be punitive in a relationship. Your relationship begins to revolve around negativity. The punitive parenting creates a ‘behind in the score’ attitude for the child. The game is negatively personal.

Punitive parents often punish when they see ‘attitude’ in children. While they cannot tolerate attitude in children, they feel exempt from refraining from expressing negative, disparaging, hostile, threatening and rude attitudes of their own when interacting with the child. Another old cliché: Kids imitate what they see. Punitive parents eventually get desperate, often when the child begins to get older and less manageable, and is able to compare their punitive parents with the disciplining parents or friends. These are the parents that show up on sensational talk shows to enlist the show host in further berating the child and start threatening the child with ‘boot camp’. Remember Frankenstein’s monster? Punitive parents create their own monster, then blame the monster for it.

Permissive Parenting

Permissive parenting often takes root right at birth. Permissive parents set up the process that will haunt them as the child grows older when they overindulge the infant by never allowing them to learn to self comfort. Many permissive parents pick up their infant at any sign of a gurgle or whimper; they cannot tolerate the dry, clean, fed, and healthy child to cry themselves to sleep. As the child gets older, they allow the child to continue to sleep in their bed (much to the discontent of one parent). Some single parents allow the sleeping with parent as a selfish alternative to sleeping alone.

Interestingly, permissive parenting produces the exact same result as punitive parenting: a hostile, oppositional, out of control child. The child of a permissive parent never really develops the respectful ‘disciple’ relationship with the parent because the parent is not consistent with boundaries (or has none at all). Once again, the older the child gets, the angrier the child becomes when they compare their peers disciplining parents to their own.

Essentially, as the child grows older, they are trapped by permissive parenting in that they feel the pressure to ‘grow up’ but have become dependent on the over indulgence of the permissive parent. At age ten, the child feels embarrassed that they are still sleeping with Mom, but can’t stop doing it. At age fifteen, the child is a demanding, helpless five year old. At age twenty, these are the young adults who should get jobs, but figure: ‘Why should I? I get everything I need for free!’ In many cases, the permissive parent continues to ‘bail out’ the child for decades, and the child develops a hostile, out of control stance with the parent. Permissive parenting is negatively personal in that the predominant attitude becomes one of entitlement by the child, and resentment from the parent.

Discipline and Consequence

On the other hand, discipline and consequence operate in the exact opposite manner. It is positively personal, meaning that correction, while not a happy and cheerful event, is at its core a positive relationship builder between parent and child. The root word of ‘discipline’ is ‘disciple’. Disciples follow older and wiser people, not out of fear of punitive actions, but out of respect and love. It is the job of the older and wiser person to interact with the disciple in a way that teaches them how to be in a positive relationship, accept correction, and maintain care and affection in the process.

Discipline and consequence may produce temporary hurt feelings and resentment, but when properly carried out, actually results in healing those same hurts and resentments in the process. Respect becomes a mutual experience for parent and child. The parent understands and accepts their role as the older and wiser person, and fully expects the child to strike out at the parent when the child is angry or hurt. The parent is able to control their own emotional reactivity and not enter into the scoreboard, punitive game. Without the ability to reduce reactivity and increase positive response, a parent will lapse into either punitive or permissive parenting, sometimes alternating between the two, which further confuses the child and creates animosity in the relationship.

Consequence becomes a relationship-neutral boundary that teaches, often through personal demonstration by the parent in their own relationship with others, that there are natural consequences to our actions or inaction. Consequence is just a fact of life. Non-punitive and non-indulgent consequences are fair and consistent. And, they produce positive results in the child's behaviors and self discipline.

The first task in ending punitive or permissive parenting and adopting the more effective discipline-consequence style is for a parent to recognize and admit their error. Then they must find the courage to set aside their ego in order to learn a new way. The third task is to learn to hold on to themselves emotionally well enough in the correction and discipline process to use the tools that work. And then, of course, practice, practice, practice.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)