4 Solutions to Passive Parenting

Last week I wrote an article called 4 Problems with Passive Parenting. This is my follow up post.

I learned that over different seasons I've allowed my parenting to become passive and while it was necessary in certain seasons, I've realized the pattern has been made more permanent. As a result, it has caused some issues in our home.

You can read more about that here.

In this article, I share how I am moving forward to change that passivity in my parenting methods.

4 Solutions to Passive Parenting

Clear Boundaries

I am laying out some very clear boundaries when it comes to certain aspects of day to day life for myself and my children. These boundaries will offer us all a sense of security because we will know what to expect in certain areas that have been lax before.  Creating boundaries helps with order as well. If a boundary is put in place, but it is not followed, it can cause a cascade effect of a mess. If a child doesn't put away a puzzle they are doing before pulling out a new activity, the puzzle then has the potential for pieces to go missing because it gets pushed aside and dropped on the floor. Allow this to happen multiple times and you have multiple puzzles with missing pieces that are no longer fun to play with and ended up a wasted activity. 

Here's another example: eating. My children need to be seated at the table until they are completely finished eating. Too often they leave their food because they get distracted by something else and either they forget to come back to their food and it goes to waste, or the dog gets to it, which is still a waste. This leads to not only wasted food, but a child who still needs to eat because they are now left hungry. 

Consistent Follow Through

With those boundaries in place, I then need to consistently follow through on making certain they are staying within those boundaries and offering consequences when they don't. 

So if a child loses their food to the dog or to getting cold because they leave the table when my back is turned, they simply lose that food and don't get a replacement until the next meal. 

If a child pulls out a second activity before putting the first away, they should lose both activities, put them both away, and find something else to do. 

Consistently following through will help them remember not to go over the boundaries of where they were told to stay. Plus, it makes them see I mean business. 

Concrete Convictions

Since children need a very clear understanding of conviction, I can't be wishy-washy in addressing unacceptable behavior or choices.

If a child does not obey, ignoring it will not offer them a clear conviction of being obedient. Instead, they learn to only be obedient once mom gets upset. This isn't obedience.

So my solution for this is to not give instructions in passing and to stop what I'm doing to make certain the instructions are followed. This goes from things like chores to attitude adjustments to handling sibling squabbles.

Children need a strong leader to follow, not a wimpy wannabe. They will never have clear convictions without a solid foundation of following through. All of these go hand in hand.

Cooperative Compassion

Being passive about handling sibling squabbles has lead to weak sibling relationships. That is definitely not the goal I am aiming for so I must take steps to ensure my children recognize unacceptable attitudes and behaviors that lead to their fighting.

Often, these fights break out as a result of selfish desires.

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?
— James 4:1

A child wants something and will risk damaging a relationship to get it. But often, children don't see through this lens. They have tunnel vision and are completely focused only on what they want. (Adults have this tendency, too, by the way).

So, my goal is to be fully present to help enlighten the children involved in these squabbles what the root of the squabble is and how to confess, repent, and receive forgiveness. The Gospel is such a perfect teacher in these matters. 

This requires me to stop what it is I am doing, and go to them. Shouting from another room is not going to create strong relationships or create a cooperative compassion between siblings. They need me to be fully present in that situation for a complete resolution to take place. Or at least definable steps to get there. Some quarrels cannot be solved in just one session of understanding dialogue. 

I want my children to have compassion on each other, not merely focus on what it is they want. 

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
— Philippians 2:4

This whole post could probably be summed up in one word: attentiveness

Children need strong, attentive parents who take intentional steps to lead them. This requires intentional planning and being present in day-to-day.

These are some of the issues we've been facing in our family and how I will take steps to mend the damage.

What can you do to help eradicate a passive approach to parenting you may have picked up?

4 Problems With Passive Parenting

It came on so subtly, I didn't even notice. In my earlier years of mothering, I wouldn't call myself a strict mom, but more of a firm, no-nonsense mom. When I asked something of my children, I expected it done, and they knew those expectations. They knew I meant business -- and I knew it, too!

But today, my mothering paints a different picture and it's not because I've grown and matured and gained more experience. It's because I've become lax in my parenting--passive. It came on subtly over the years from being pregnant and losing sleep to nursing babes. It was just a way of life out of necessity for sanity sake.

But as I've moved into a new season of mothering, this is no longer necessary, yet I still find myself parenting passively. 

Now, I make empty threats--and my children know it. And I rely too much on the children to do for themselves, when some just aren't capable, mentally or physically, yet.

I've learned a few important realities when it comes to passive parenting.There are some dangers involved in allowing this to continue indefinitely. 

Now, I don't want to paint an entirely false picture of my mothering. I am not passive in all areas, but I have noticed I've been passive in several key areas that require me to be present in order for growth to take place in my children. 

In a future post, I will share ways I plan to combat these issues and be more proactive in these key areas.  

4 Dangers of Passive Parenting

Weak Relationships

I've become too reliant on having the children fight their own battles between them. I actually thought it would help them learn to handle conflict on their own. The problem with this is they have never been taught the tools necessary for this. So their way of solving matters is to continue to fight for their own desires until they win.

But there is a serious heart issue here that must be dealt with by me, their mother. They need to come face to face with the sin of their selfish desires which is typically what causes the conflict. They are not mature enough to see that for themselves. So, this constant battle never gets solved and it weakens the relationship between them as siblings and friends. 

In addition, remaining uninvolved in such matters weakens my relationship with my children because as the adult, I am not doing my duty to train and discipline properly. 

Weak Boundaries

While I have some definite boundaries laid for my children, some of the lines have seriously grayed over the years. 

For example, with my first child, Saying, "No" or ignoring a direction was NEVER tolerated. Now, with my two youngest, who are four and six years old, (and even my eight year old at times) I've allowed those lines to gray by brushing off ignored directions. Or, not following through and spouting off instructions in passing.

I would let it go because things were busy or I'd forget -- or some other excuse that has lead to several of my children not obeying well in certain areas. 

Same thing goes with whining. I used to NEVER give in to whining and now, I ashamedly admit today, I do. Because it's faster and easier than dealing with a melt down. I know, I know, bad mama. But that's what I've come to realize about why things are so difficult and not in favor of my children's growth and maturity. 

Weak Convictions

When my children do not have clearly defined boundaries, or understand their sin of selfishness because I am passive about presenting it (or neglecting it), they will not have solid, strong convictions about sin and living a righteous life. This isn't about perfection, it's about growth. 

We are called to be holy as Christ is holy (1 Peter 1:16), to practice righteousness (1 John 3:10), and to imitate what is good (3 John 1:11). Giving my children clear boundaries and teaching them God's word will guide them in Truth and the Holy Spirit will bring conviction from knowing this Truth.

Children are concrete thinkers and will need concrete limits.

Weak Work Ethic

When I fail to follow up on day-to-day chores, I create a weak work ethic in my children. This is actually a large pet-peeve of mine so if I ever hope to raise strong, hard workers, I must, must, must follow-up with their work. But often, I do not. And they know this.

Because they know I rarely follow up, their work is done half-heartedly, and lazily. When I fail to hold them to a standard I know they are capable of reaching, they fail to grow into better workers. 

Most of life is work and the sooner they learn that, they better they will cope and be successful as adults. 


After recognizing these weak spots in my parenting due to being passive, I have formulated a plan to combat them and strengthen them. You can read that here: 4 Solutions to Passive Parenting

Do you have spots in your parenting that are overly passive that could do more harm than good in the long run?