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5 Signs of Pushover Parents

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WebMD Feature

You might think that too-permissive parents are the ones whose kids have no rules, no curfews, no dress code, and no manners. True, but they're not the only ones.

You may be surprised that some of your habits could put you into the "pushover" or permissive parent category, according to experts, even if you think that you're doing everything right with your tweens and teens.

"Many parents today misunderstand their role," says parenting expert Leonard Sax, MD, PhD, a family doctor in Chester County, PA, and author of Girls on the Edge and Boys Adrift. "They often see their role as making sure the son or daughter gets into a top college and protecting the son or daughter from disappointment. They are there, providing the safety net in situations where it might be wiser to let the kid experience the consequences."

Here are five common ways that parents become too permissive, plus how and why you should change your ways.

1. No Routines or Limits

For many parents, life can get too hectic to follow through on their parenting plans, especially if it will take some work to get the kids on board. After a while, their family's lack of routine can result in lazy, spoiled teens or tweens without schedules and responsibilities.

"Everybody knows that they should have rules, routines, habits and socializations," says Laura Kastner, PhD, author of Getting to Calm: Cool-Headed Strategies for Parenting Tweens and Teens, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Washington School of Medicine. "But for busy parents, when they finally get home, they don't want to turn their family time into acrimony."

Like it or not, the only way to change the situation is to become less permissive, setting limits for the family.

"If you say, 'We're now going to have bedtime,' the kids will really push back," Kastner says. "You have to be calm, absolutely resolute, and not cave."

If you're married or living with your partner, they have to be on board. "You want your spouse to be on the point as much as possible, because kids will go after the weaker partner," Kastner says. "Once you get past the first two weeks, you're probably on your way."

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