Were your parents emotionally disconnected from you when you were a child? You were probably raised by neglectful parents. Like the other parenting styles, uninvolved parenting can have consequences for children that last into adulthood. We discuss what it is, its causes and how it affects children.
A Case in Point
Sabrina (not her real name) recalls her childhood with uninvolved parents. They were not there for her most of the time and never showed interest in her even if they were physically present.
Both of them failed to attend to Sabrina’s basic needs, e.g., cooking meals. Her mother never noticed if she didn’t go to school. She reflected that she would feel neglected or lonely. Both her parents used drugs. She would often let her parents’ friends into the home but have no part in their activities. Her parents would scold her when she tried to interact with them.
Sabrina grew up believing that they were disinterested in her because of something that she had done. She dealt with feelings of guilt until a counselor made her realize that it wasn’t her fault that they behaved this way.
What Is Uninvolved Parenting?
Psychologist Diana Baumrind gets credit for identifying four primary parenting styles. She researched preschool-aged children and found that their parents were either:
Uninvolved parents have no interest in their children’s needs or activities. They make no demands on their kids and are often indifferent to them. They are dismissive when their children approach them with questions or requests.
Though they may be responsible parents who provide their children with food and shelter, they are not emotionally involved with them. These parents take a hands-off approach with their kids, though they may have basic rules, such as curfews.
Traits of Uninvolved Parents
Do you scold yourself for not spending enough time with your children? Fear not because you may not be a neglectful parent. Find out about the traits of uninvolved parents first.
1. Emotional Detachment
First of all, parents who use this parenting style have problems connecting with their children emotionally. They believe that their duties end with providing food and shelter. They do not ask their children about their activities. These parents give their kids the brush off when the latter feel depressed or angry. They refuse to help their children solve their problems.
Uninvolved parents are often so busy with the issues that they forget about addressing their children’s needs. They are caught up with work or other activities. They may spend so much time on their financial, social or marital woes that they don’t notice that their children also have concerns.
3. Abusive Substances
Some parents who use drugs and other substances fail to attend to their children’s needs. Such parents may even resort to violence. Their children may have to drop out of school if they have financial constraints.
4. Lack of Supervision
Furthermore, neglectful parents are not experts when it comes to supervising their children. They either don’t watch over them at all or ground them all the time.
The former seldom bother about where their children go and do not ask about their activities. They do not enforce discipline. The latter keep their kids around them all the time. While they don’t ask about their children’s schedules, they prefer to have them around.
5. No Expression of Love
Uninvolved parents seldom express love for their children. They are indifferent towards them, and rarely show them affection. Therefore, their children may end up feeling bitter.
6. Lack of Expectations
Finally, neglectful parents don’t have expectations for their children. They don’t bother when their children express that they have reached significant milestones in their lives.
Why Do Some Parents Use This Approach?
Unfortunately, many parents have no clue about the goings-on in their children’s lives. Many parents who use this style of parenting do so because they grew up in adverse environments themselves. They do not express love or support because they didn’t receive any, and role models were not present.
Some may have challenges to overcome, e.g., intellectual disabilities. Parents with such concerns often find relating to their children difficult. Other parents are so caught up with work commitments that they fail to realize their neglect of their children’s needs. The situation remains as such until it’s too late.
Some parents make poor lifestyle choices (e.g., alcohol, drugs, etc.) and become immersed in them. They show no competence or desire for raising children.
How Uninvolved Parenting Affects a Child Later in Life
Neglectful parenting can result in a few behavioral issues in children. The lack of guidance can result in improper behavior and poor manners. In cases where the parent is entirely incompetent or disinterested, a child may get into trouble with school authorities and fall in with the wrong crowd.
1. Social Interaction
First of all, young children pick up cues from their environment. If being ignored is their reality, they will grow up believing that neglecting others is acceptable. They may become social recluses or adopt antisocial behavior. They will not be able to take part in social situations.
2. Moral Development
Uninvolved parenting can lead to harassment by peers in school. This study shows that it has an impact on peer victimization, mainly by siblings and their friends. The effects were stronger on girls than boys.
4. Substance Abuse
Family support is a protective factor against adolescent substance abuse. Social networking may result in friends and their parents becoming influenced as well. This study shows that an authoritative mother is 39% less likely to have a child who binges drinks than a neglectful one.
Uninvolved parenting can also result in a child becoming depressed and dysfunctional. Possible verbal abuse and indifference from parents can result in social anxiety.
What Can We Do about Neglectful Parenting?
Thankfully, there is a lot that we can do about the uninvolved style of parenting.
- First of all, remember that parents seldom want to be deliberately negligent of their children. However, they need intervention and assistance from counselors. They may also need financial help.
- Also, children need to spend quality time with their parents. They need their parents’ guidance to move along the correct paths in life. Neglectful parenting may prevent them from growing up to become healthy individuals.
In all, uninvolved parenting can have detrimental effects. But parents can take steps to ensure that they don’t inadvertently adopt such a parenting style.
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