Permissive Parenting

Ann is a mother who allows her sixth-grade daughter to drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes. She turns to Dr. Phil when she finds out that her daughter is also smoking pot and having oral sex with an 18-year-old. Dr. Phil offers this advice:

Children need boundaries and rules to learn right from wrong. "You don't allow children to make adult decisions," Dr. Phil says. "If you allow a sixth grader to smoke and drink, what do you think she will be doing in the seventh grade, the eighth grade, and the ninth grade? You're allowing a 13-year-old to make decisions that her mother should be making." Accept responsibility and learn to say no. Get involved and set boundaries.

Don't be concerned with being the "cool mom." It's your job to be a parent, not a friend. If you find your child's friends spending a lot of time at your house because of the lax rules, Dr. Phil says, "Kick these toxic influences on your daughter out of your house. This isn't a commune, it's your home, where you should be providing a safe and protected environment for your daughter. You said, 'I don't want her to hate me.' Let me promise you, she is going to hate you. She is going to hate you when she's 15, and she's got a kid strapped to each leg, or has some type of sexually transmitted disease. She is going to look at you some day and say, 'Why didn't you make me do right? Why were you so insecure that you had to run this popularity contest as a mother to be the cool mom so that fed your ego instead of having the guts to step up and do right by me as a child?'"

It's not only unacceptable for a sixth grader to be dating an 18-year-old; it's also illegal. "You need to run that 18-year-old boyfriend of hers off, and I'd call the cops on him," says Dr. Phil. "I'm fairly certain that's statutory rape. And you're contributing to the delinquency of a minor by allowing it to go on ... She's going to wind up pregnant in a fast hurry if you don't stop this. You may not know much about parenting, but you're going to get a lot of practice at it because you're going to be raising your grandchildren."

Recognize that your child might be in need of drug rehab. "This child is out of control. She needs to be in drug rehab right now," Dr. Phil tells Ann. "I can tell you that this child is addicted to alcohol and drugs, in my opinion. She needs treatment."

Get involved. It is your responsibility as a parent to know what is going on in your child's life. You need to know what music she's listening to, who she's hanging out with, what television shows she's watching, what websites she's going to ... "If this means you have to be joined at the hip for a period of time, do it. Plug in. If you ask her what she's doing, and she says, 'Nothing' and slams the bedroom door, you need to open that door," advises Dr. Phil.

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