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Is Being a Chill Parent Worth It? Here's What to Know About Permissive Parenting

There is no one easy-to-follow guide on parenting, and most of us are trying to do the best we can with what we know at the time. Some parents opt to have a similar parenting style to what they grew up with, while others find a path that works better for them.

On TikTok, the term "permissive parenting" has been getting some attention, but experts say it's often confused with "gentle parenting." And although there are a few overlapping similarities, there are key differences between the two parenting philosophies.

What Is Permissive Parenting?

Amy Morin, LCSW, psychotherapist, and author of "13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don't Do," tells POPSUGAR permissive parenting is "defined by having little discipline but also showing love and affection for kids," and it's characterized by a unique blend of love and indulgence toward children.

"Unlike neglectful parents who don't give kids enough attention, permissive parents give attention but don't intervene when kids misbehave," Morin says. With this parenting philosophy, parents "may place few demands" on the kids, and they "aren't likely to give consequences or have many rules to begin with."

What Does Permissive Parenting Look Like?

Kimberly King, parenting expert, founder of Tough Topics Mom, and author of "Body Safety For Young Children: Empowering Caring Adults," tells POPSUGAR that there are several key traits someone who gravitates to permissive parenting may have.

"Parents adopting this style tend to be indulgent and nurturing, demonstrating a high level of warmth and affection towards their children," she says. Parents also have a "lax approach to rules and boundaries" and instead would avoid conflict or confrontation and take on more of the role as "their child's friend rather than an authority figure."

King explains that a real-life example of how a parent who practices permissive parenting might approach a common parenting situation can play out during bedtime battles.

"When our little warriors declare, 'I'm not sleepy!,' instead of a firm rule like, 'It's 9 p.m., off with electronics, light off, head to bed,' a permissive parent might opt [to say] something like, 'You look tired; maybe you need to get to sleep?' or 'I think you should get to bed. OK?'"

When it comes to chores, homework, or screen time, the permissive parent also tends to take a lax approach. "A child might consistently avoid chores or homework without facing consequences," King explains, "or parents might allow excessive screen time without setting limits," which she says can ultimately negatively impact the child's academic performance and social skills.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Permissive Parenting?

According to Morin and King, the permissive-parenting philosophy has some great benefits. For example, "permissive parents show their kids a lot of love and attention, which is great for kids' overall well-being," Morin shares. "Kids who grow up with permissive parents tend to have high self-esteem."

King says in addition to a "strong parent-child bond" that comes with this parenting philosophy because of the "high levels of nurturance and warmth," kids also develop "positive self-esteem, problem-solving skills, and confidence."

But there are some disadvantages, too, according to the experts. Having a "lack of structure and routine" creates anxiety for some children and could lead to the development of some behavioral issues.

"Kids want to know that they don't have to be in charge and to trust that an adult is capable of managing things and keeping them safe," Morin says. King also explains that a lack of discipline growing up may lead to a lack of self-discipline later on into adulthood.

Without consistent boundaries and expectations, permissive parenting can also create underachievers and unhealthy habits, like watching too much TV or eating too much junk food, which may take a toll on their mental and physical health in the long run, King warns.

How Does Permissive Parenting Differ From Gentle Parenting?

Gentle parenting is a parenting philosophy that's gotten a lot of attention over the years, and it's recently seen a resurgence through TikTok. There are some similarities between permissive parenting and gentle parenting, but they're not the same.

"Both permissive parenting and gentle parenting show respect for a child's feelings and involve affectionate relationships," Morin shares. "But gentle parenting requires setting boundaries and having a clearer hierarchy. Gentle parents may show patience and empathy for a child who is upset by a parent's decision, but they aren't likely to give in simply because the child is upset."

Morin explains that the big difference between the two philosophies comes with hierarchy and boundaries. "Permissive parents lack that clear hierarchy, and often, parents are not the ultimate decision-makers," she notes.

King expands on this, sharing that the big difference between the two philosophies comes from important boundary setting. "Gentle parenting places more emphasis on setting boundaries with empathy and respect, while permissive parenting often lacks this crucial aspect," she says. This difference means that in permissive parenting, kids are given "excessive freedom without adequate guidance," which can be negative.

"While permissive parenting can foster a strong emotional connection, integrating boundaries and guidance is essential for a child's long-term well-being and overall safety," King says.

Ultimately, when it comes to how you raise your kids, it's essential to go with what works best for your family, as long as the best interest of your kids is always top of mind. While there are some warnings and potential downsides to permissive parenting, the reality is that we're not one-size-fits-all when it comes to parenting. We often fall somewhere between several different parenting styles. Ultimately, it's essential to find what fits your family best.

How to Find a Babysitter You and Your Kids Love and Trust

Working parents may need (or want) childcare assistance for numerous reasons, all of which are valid. Some parents may need help filling the gap in hours between after school and the end of the workday, while others may need a hand to attend a doctor's appointment or have a date night.

"Hiring a babysitter allows for time away from the kids, which can give partnered parents the opportunity to strengthen their relationship and single parents the chance to be present in aspects of their lives that wouldn't be possible for them to juggle without care, from last-minute events like work obligations to covering their after-school childcare gap, or simply sneaking in a bit of self-care," says Maressa Brown, the senior editor at, an online marketplace for childcare, senior care, pet care, and more.

But a new survey showed that parents say finding a babysitter is challenging, and the struggle has its share of consequences. Most parents, 84 percent, said the challenges of finding a babysitter made it hard to take time away from their children, with 40 percent saying they had to miss work obligations because of childcare issues. Sound familiar? Hopefully, these expert-backed tips for finding a babysitter, including how to make a choice you and your child(ren) feel comfortable with, will put your problems at ease.

How to Find a Babysitter

Finding the perfect babysitter can feel like such a daunting task. The good news? According to Reena B. Patel, a parenting expert and Gryt advisor, it's possible to work multiple avenues during a search. Patel says parents can find babysitters using:

  • Online certified networks, such as and
  • Local parenting groups, such as those on Facebook
  • Community platforms, like
  • In-person community and church groups
  • Friends and family referrals

When looking for a babysitter, you're going to want to narrow down your options by age. Do you want a teen babysitter or an adult? Babysitting neighborhood kids may have been your first job growing up, and today's neighborhood teenagers, such as the ones your child enjoyed having as a summer camp counselor, still have their place in families in 2023. Some local libraries and the American Red Cross offer classes for tweens and teens hoping to become babysitters that cover basic child safety, typical behaviors, and age-appropriate activities.

"A teen babysitter is good for . . . when you go out on a date or an after-school," says Rebecah Freeling, a parenting coach with Wits' End Parenting. However, Freeling also says a veteran adult babysitter is preferable in specific situations.

"I wouldn't put a young child in a car with a teenager because they don't have experience driving," Freeling says. "If you are having them pick up multiple or spirited kids, I would definitely say you want an older person who has some experience, maybe with some experience in education."

Former teachers or teacher aids often have more experience with children with disabilities or neurodivergencies, too. Regardless of the babysitter's age, knowledge of safety is essential. "It's important for a babysitter to be aware of the differences in care of a child depending on the child's age," says Luke Prest, MD, a board-certified pediatrician.

For example, Dr. Prest says babysitters caring for infants should know the importance of placing them alone and on their backs in a crib to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDs), or that some foods, such as nuts, are choking hazards for children under 4 to 5.

Interview the Babysitter

Unlike hailing an Uber or Lyft ride, finding a babysitter requires more than a swipe and a tap. "You want to make sure they are a fit with your family, and you can see them as a big part of your family," Patel says. Like most forms of employment, an interview is an integral part of the babysitter hiring process. Patel suggests asking questions like:

  • How long have you been babysitting?
  • What credentials, like teaching or CPR, do you have?
  • What classes, like babysitting preparedness, have you taken?
  • Do you have experience caring for children who are my child's age?
  • What additional duties did you perform in your previous babysitting jobs?
  • Are you willing to work weekends or evenings occasionally?
  • Are you ever available on short notice?
  • Do you have reliable transportation, marks on your driving record, and a license?
  • Can you cook for infants and children?
  • What activities can you do with children of this age?
  • How comfortable are you enforcing household rules, such as those regarding screen time, pets, and sugar intake?

Brown says some of the most important questions parents can ask a potential babysitter during the interview process surround situations likely to happen when caring for specific children. "Posing experiential questions can assess how they'd respond to certain situations, whether that be safety-related like, 'What would you do if my kid trips and hurt themselves at the park?' or a behavior-related question such as, 'What would you do if my child refuses to eat the dinner you made?'" Brown explains.

To that end, interviews are a two-way street. "Tell them about your child and the things your child loves," Freeling says. "That helps someone understand their personality. What makes this kid tick? Science? Math? Art? That lets the babysitter know . . . how they can connect with them.'"

For example, if your child loves space, the babysitter can tell them a story about astronauts at bedtime. Another thing: be honest about your child's struggles. "Is the child going to try to find video games that you've hidden? Run away?" Freeling posits. "Parents sometimes try to pull back on that stuff because they don't want to scare the babysitter." But being upfront can ensure the sitter is a good fit and prepared for (almost) anything.

Evaluate the Candidate

Based on the interview, Brown says you want to assess whether the babysitter is a fit based on three Ps:

  • Preparedness: Credentials, hands-on training, and safety certifications like CPR and water safety show how prepared a sitter is to work with children of a certain age or handle an emergency, Brown says.
  • Professionalism: Brown notes that being on time and attentively answering questions are positive signs that a sitter is professional and reliable.
  • Personality: "The sitter will spend a lot of time with the child, so a personality match can make or break a winning sitter-kid relationship," Brown says. "When talking about playtime and caring for kids, parents can assess the sitter's enthusiasm and overall attitude." Common interests like art, music, or playing a sport can enhance a bond between sitters and kids.

Patel says that red flags a sitter isn't a good fit include:

  • Cancelling an interview multiple times
  • Showing up late to an interview
  • Lack of reliable transportation
  • Inability to furnish references

Check References and Background

Before starting a trial run with a babysitter, experts stress the importance of calling two to three references, preferably ones who have used the babysitter in the past, and having a detailed conversation. Teens may not have babysitting references, but they should have others who can speak to their maturity and reliability.

"The goal of the conversation is to verify the sitter's employment history and to confirm that the reference recommends the sitter," Brown says.

Brown suggests asking questions like:

  • How did the sitter handle any urgent situations?
  • How well did the sitter click with your child?
  • How well did the sitter enforce and follow your family's rules?

Many of these questions are similar to those you asked the potential sitter - ensuring the answers sync up is essential. Freeling says references may give vague answers, but it's OK to dig deeper politely. "They don't want to wreck this person's opportunity," Freeling says. "If they say, 'It just wasn't a good fit,' you want to drill down into that because the reason the sitter is not a good fit for them may be a reason it's not a good fit for yours."

For example, the reference may say that their kids didn't like the sitter. Ask why. You may consider that a positive if the sitter didn't allow them to eat ice cream for dinner. Were they consistently coming home to 1,000 LEGOs on the floor with the kids in bed? That may matter to you if you don't want to follow work or date night with clean-up duty.

One last piece of homework: adult babysitters can undergo background checks. Sites like take care of those for prospective sitters. Private companies like the Professional Background Screening Association can help families find partners. Costs vary, but Freeling says they can start at around $45 and go up. She suggests families cover the cost.

Do a Test Run

All the interviewing and reference checking in the world can't thoroughly prepare a sitter and family for the actual caretaking job. For this reason, Brown suggests a paid sitter trial. "We recommend parents find a time when the sitter can stop by while they're still at home to get to know them and their child," Brown says. "This is beneficial for the parent, as well as the sitter, to figure out if the sitter clicks with their child."

From there, Brown suggests observing without hovering like a fly on the wall. "[Parents] can watch out for how well the sitter follows their instructions, responds to situations, and engages with their child during playtime," Brown says.

She also suggests introducing a sitter and an older verbal child via video conference if a trial isn't possible. For nonverbal and younger children, asking a sitter to show up a few minutes early for a supervised meet-and-greet can help get things started on the right foot.

"At least for the first job, it can be beneficial for parents to shorten the time period they're gone," Brown says.

How Much Do Babysitters Cost?

Brown says the average base rate on is $17, but it varies based on the area's cost of living, children's ages, and number of kids. has a calculator to help parents ascertain the going rate in the area. Brown says that "sitter sharing" can help parents cut costs.

"Chances are, if parents are itching for a date night or in need of childcare coverage, other parents in their circle are too," she says. "By divvying up the cost, sitter sharing may lower the expense for both sets of parents. It may present the sitter with a favorable situation in which they'll earn a higher rate per hour by watching multiple kids."

Another option? "Parents could see if another parent or family will swap sitting days, meaning, instead of hiring a sitter, each parent or family takes turns watching all the kids," Brown says.

And remember: "The people doing this job, anyone taking care of children, is doing the most important job on the planet," Freeling says. "Anything they do that's extra, like if they need to stay 30 minutes more, be sure to pay them for it . . . show them you value them."

"aaI'm Done Waiting to Find the One; I Decided I'd Rather Get Pregnant Alone"

In 2017, when I was 31 years old, I decided to freeze my eggs. I'm an ob-gyn and was in the middle of completing my fellowship to specialize in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine. Family has always been something that's important to me, which is why I chose this as my specialty. The ability to help people create or add to their families has been very rewarding.

However, through my work, I've also seen firsthand that women's egg quality and quantity diminish over time and witnessed the stress and grief that being unable to get pregnant in their late 30s and early 40s can bring to patients. I decided I wanted to give myself the best chance to become a mother to biological children when I was ready and in a more stable and settled situation with my career, regardless of whether I ended up finding a partner or not.

Fast-forward six years, and I made the decision to start a family alone.

I am now 37, own a home, and am working in a private-practice fertility clinic in Nashville, TN, and also living closer to my family and hometown of Knoxville. I'm also still single. But now being in a stage in my life where I've seen friends and patients alike going through divorces and witnessed how many women were becoming single mothers by choice, I decided I was finally ready. I think I came to the realization as I was getting closer to my upper 30s that at some point you kind of have to accept that you might get a husband, you might get children, but you might not get both in the way you traditionally imagined.

I was also at the point in my dating life where I felt that if I were to meet someone knowing that I wanted to have kids soon, I would probably be rushing a relationship. But allowing myself the freedom to create a family without having to potentially enter a bad relationship or a less-than-ideal one was a very empowering idea for me.

Additionally, even though I had my frozen eggs, I didn't want to be much older when I had kids, because my energy levels just aren't the same as what they used to be, especially with a busy career as a physician. Through my background and knowledge, I'm also well aware that egg freezing is not a 100 percent guarantee, either. I didn't want to be at a point where my current eggs wouldn't work, and then I thawed my frozen eggs and they didn't work either, ruling out my options to try in vitro fertilization or intrauterine insemination.

So, last fall, I had my eggs shipped from the lab in California to my workplace lab.

I'm comfortable and familiar with the lab at my job to trust that my eggs would be safe there. Then, I started on estrogen patches to prepare the lining of my uterus in December while taking my time in choosing a sperm donor, which was a very illuminating experience. I learned a lot about myself and what my nonnegotiables would be - for instance, I was easily able to give up physical preferences, like my child potentially having blond hair and green eyes like me, but a family history of alcoholism was a dealbreaker and a donor's education was an important factor for me.

Even though it's an open donation and I could eventually choose to contact this person, they keep donors largely anonymous. However, I was able to learn enough to know that I was choosing a fellow physician who, based on his audio interview, seemed like a nice person. It influenced my decision to know that if my child were ever to meet this person, they would be able to say the other genetic half of them is accomplished and someone they could potentially be proud of.

In January, the lab worked on creating the embryo and performing genetic testing while I was on a family trip to Morocco - a useful distraction. I had my transfer performed a couple of weeks later and was very lucky in that my first one worked.

Fortunately, I've had a fairly easy pregnancy so far, as I near my Oct. 1 due date. Some parts were challenging physically, such as the progesterone shots I had to give myself beginning five days before my transfer and continuing for a total of 12 weeks. These were painful and caused unpleasant side effects like constipation and fatigue. In the first trimester, I also had a subchorionic hematoma, which is essentially bleeding around the embryo. But since that resolved, I've otherwise felt good and have been able to remain active, running a half-marathon at 17 weeks and a 10-mile race at 25 weeks. One of the most awesome parts of exercising during pregnancy is that people congratulate you just for existing and doing anything.

Ultimately, I know parenthood isn't easy, though - single or partnered.

But I'm ready for the challenges that will likely come with being a single parent from the start, from navigating the childcare situation on my own to not having a second income from a partner and father. I know I'm in a privileged position, but I started planning things like taking eight to 12 weeks of maternity leave, choosing a daycare, and hiring a night nurse and personal assistant before I even got pregnant.

As for people who don't understand my decision, I'm taking the approach of "if you're not excited, you're not invited," and I'm just not focusing my energy on them. That being said, I have been hesitant to share my pregnancy news widely beyond my circle of close family and friends out of fear of judgment. I know people mean well, but I really didn't want to hear any more encouragement about being able to find someone and to keep giving dating apps a chance. Some of my unhappiest patients have been women who have held out waiting for the right guy and are now coming to terms with the unfortunate reality that the ability to get pregnant does not last forever.

So to anyone considering single parenthood by choice, I would say the most important thing is developing your village, those people who will back you no matter what. I know there is going to be chaos, but I also know I'm doing all I can do to set myself up for success, and that includes having people around me who are supportive and willing to help. I'm also taking comfort in my emotional security, knowing that this is my decision and mine alone. It's something I wanted to do, and I feel very empowered by that.

Meggie Smith gave birth to a daughter, Perry Lee "Scout" Smith, on Sept. 20. This interview was conducted in early August.

- As told to Emilia Benton

48 Unique and Creative Trunk-or-Treat Ideas

New to the trunk-or-treat game? Often held in the parking lots of schools, community centers, and churches, trunk-or-treat events involve kids trick-or-treating directly out of the trunk of cars or truck beds, rather than going door to door. Whether the trunk aligns with an entire costume theme or has a theme of its own, there's something seriously cool about a bunch of cars parked in a safe space for kids to fill their candy buckets from.

Get ready to fill your car or truck with sweet treats, ghouls and ghosts, and everything in between. Take inspiration from these unique and scary trunk-or-treat ideas as you map out your Halloween game plan this year.

- Additional reporting by Murphy Moroney, Alessia Santoro, Lauren Harano, and Sabienna Bowman