The Effects of a Lack of Parental Control

In the absence of parental authority and guidance, children are likely to act on their impulses, leading to devastating consequences. Social anthropologist and expert Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., says that a longitudinal study of 281 children showed a link between permissive parenting and a higher tendency toward aggression. Dewar also links this style of parenting to alcoholism. Indeed, these are only two examples of the long-term effects of a lack of parental rules in the life of a child.

Lack of Self-Control

If you let your child to do whatever she chooses without restrictions, you will develop a pattern of behavior that leads to failure as she matures. For instance, a solid work ethic requires that an employee reports to the job on time, awake and ready to work. If you allow your child to stay up and watch television on a Sunday night and be late for school on Monday and tired during the day, she will never learn the values of punctuality and alertness, and their connection to success.


Meeting your child's needs at the expense of others deprives her of learning to value everyone else's feelings just as much as her own. For instance, if you give in to your child's temper tantrums because she can't have what's on her sister's plate, in addition to the meal you've already ordered for her, she will enter adulthood with the attitude that she must always get her way. As Laura Markham, Ph.D., suggests, that will make it difficult for her to form lasting friendships or romantic unions. Instead, people will avoid her.

Academic Achievement Deficit

If you let your child play, watch television or cruise the Internet while she should be doing her homework, you not only miss out on impressing upon her how important her academic success is to you, as Markham suggests, you also give her no reason to believe it's essential for her own sake. The worst consequences will come when she desires to enter a certain university or attend medical or law school and experiences rejection due to poor grades when she applies.

Possible Physical Dangers

Another consequence of a lack of parental control is you could expose your child to danger to her body or her health, as child development experts with the Kids Health website suggest. Indeed, just as you wouldn't let your 2 year old go crawling toward the cord to the computer because of the risk of electric shock, it's also important to set limits to your 10 year old's constant cravings for sweets. As Dewar suggests, many overweight children come from homes headed by permissive parents.