The Risks Of Having An Uninvolved Parenting Style
Do you know what type of parenting style you have, or what type your parents had? Knowing how a child was raised can tell you a lot about their behavior as they age, and even when they start raising their kids. Parenting style can affect many things, like a kid’s self-esteem, behavior, and even mental health.
Some styles are known to lead to better outcomes for kids than others. Authoritative parents are typically seen as the most effective because of their balance of authority and empathy. On the other hand, the uninvolved parenting style is known to be one of the worst and can have detrimental effects for children that extend into the teen and adult years.
Overview Of The Four Main Parenting Styles
These styles are recognized in psychology today, each with differing levels of parent responsiveness and demandingness:
- Authoritative – Commonly viewed as the most effective parenting style. Parents have high expectations of their children but also show their kids support and understanding.
- Neglectful – An uninvolved or neglectful parenting style is arguably the most detrimental because children do not receive the attention, care, and support they need from their parents.
- Permissive – Children raised by permissive parents are loved and cared for but may lack self-control and self-discipline due to lacking the rules and limits usually set by parents.
- Authoritarian – Authoritarian or strict, parents have high expectations and set rules. However, they can be unresponsive to their kids’ needs, leading to issues like low self-esteem.
By classifying and studying these different styles, researchers have been able to track the effects of parenting on children over the long term. This has allowed researchers to establish some of these four styles’ positive and negative effects on kids’ development.
Uninvolved Parenting Seems To Be The Worst
It’s true that each parenting style, like most things, has its pros and cons. No one style is right or perfect, and no parent is perfect either, but the uninvolved parenting style seems to be the least effective and the least healthy for children. In a way, uninvolved parenting is less of a parenting style and moreso a lack thereof. Why is this important? Knowing the characteristics of an uninvolved parenting style is the first step to recognizing that:
- You’re an uninvolved parent and may need to change,
- You were raised by an uninvolved parent, which might explain some behavioral or social issues you’re currently experiencing, or
- An uninvolved parent is raising a child or children you know.
According to Darling N. (1999), “Uninvolved parents are low in both responsiveness and demandingness. In extreme cases, this parenting style might encompass both rejecting-neglecting and neglectful parents, although most parents of this type fall within the normal range.” This is important because parental responsiveness is a predictor of social competence and psychosocial functioning, while parental demandingness determines instrumental competence and behavioral control.
Since uninvolved parents are low in responsiveness and demandingness, uninvolved parents perform poorly in all these areas. What’s worse is that the negative consequences of this parenting style do not end with childhood but can extend into the adult years.
The Risks Of Having An Uninvolved Parenting Style
A study by Hoskins D.H. (2014) did an excellent job of outlining some of the risks of having an uninvolved parenting style. This research stated that “[An] uninvolved parenting style had been found to have the most negative effect on adolescent outcomes compared to the other three parenting styles.” The reason for these negative outcomes is in the differing behaviors of uninvolved parents.
Compared to the other three parenting styles, uninvolved parents:
- Do not support or encourage their child’s self-regulation.
- Show no interest or engagement in the responsibilities of raising their child.
- Do not provide their child with any structure or control.
- Lack closeness with their child.
- Fail to monitor or supervise their child’s behavior.
What do these behaviors mean for the children of uninvolved parents? Some of the outcomes found in research include adolescents who engage in more externalizing behavior and a connection with delinquent acts like vandalism, petty theft, assault, and rape. Teens with uninvolved parents tend to drink more, smoke more, and do more drugs. These teens also tend to have lower self-esteem and show higher levels of depressive symptoms in adolescence.
Interestingly, an uninvolved mother tends to be more harmful than an uninvolved father (and yes, you can have two parents with different parenting techniques).
What To Do If You’re an Uninvolved Parent, Know One, Or Were Raised By One
There’s plenty of evidence showing that uninvolved parenting can have severe, long-term negative impacts on children. These impacts include things like delinquency, risky behavior, difficulty with social interactions, and depression. That’s why in some cases, interventions are needed, either to reduce some of these risks if it’s still early enough or help children heal and encourage a better family dynamic.
If you’re an uninvolved parent, the first thing you need to do is acknowledge it. This can be hard because some uninvolved parents don’t see an issue with their behavior or are truly disinterested in their children. After admitting that you’re an uninvolved parent, the next step is deciding what you will do about it.
You can’t change the past, so there’s no point in beating yourself up. You can, however, change the future. A few ways that uninvolved parents can work to better themselves include:
- Reading parenting books and articles
- Going to counseling (either in-person or online)
- Taking a parenting class
One of the biggest ways that uninvolved parents can turn a new leaf is by getting involved with their kids! This means listening to them, spending time with them, learning their needs, and being responsive to them. Remember that little steps are important. If you’ve been uninvolved as a parent for a long time, it will take a while before all of this comes naturally. Depending on your kids’ ages, apologizing for your behavior in the past and expressing your desire to change can also be a good idea.
Professional help is both available and proven to be successful in adjusting or changing parenting styles. A trained counselor will look into how you parent today and show you how to make changes little by little until you can be the parent you desire to be for your children.
If you know an uninvolved parent and are worried about their kids’ well-being, there are a couple of things that you can do. Depending on the severity of the situation and if the parent is neglectful, it might be good to get the authorities involved. If you know the parent personally, having a conversation with them might be another option. Nobody likes it when other people judge their parenting, though, so this is a situation in which you may have to tread lightly. Speaking to a counselor can help you figure out exactly how to approach them.
If you were or are being raised by an uninvolved parent, you may have already experienced some of the negative effects of this parenting style. Recognizing that uninvolved parenting may have impacted your behavior and success in life can be hard. Still, it’s the first step in making positive changes for yourself and, potentially, your family. The important thing is to try not to hold a grudge and blame your parents for everything. Instead, take control of the situation for yourself.
Some things you can do to start healing if an uninvolved parent raised you are:
- Go to counseling (in-person or online)
- Reach out to a parental figure for guidance and support, like an adult you trust, another family member, or a teacher
It might be easy to blame your parents for their uninvolved parenting style and the effect that it’s had on you, but unfortunately, this type of resentment doesn’t do anything to change your situation. By facing reality and learning to heal from it, you can start to change and overcome the challenges you’re facing. Learning through these experiences can also help you establish a healthier parenting style with your own family in the future, rather than repeating the same unhealthy patterns with your kids.
Out of the four main parenting styles, a parent who tends to be uninvolved is seen as the most harmful because this type of parent disregards their children’s basic needs to be loved, understood, and cared for. Uninvolved parents do not pay much attention to their children, which means they lack discipline and proper boundaries. These parents also neglect their children’s emotional needs.
As a result, uninvolved parents can suffer from social and behavioral issues that extend through their teen and adult years. If you are an uninvolved parent or were raised by one, know that it isn’t too late to make positive changes. Counseling, either in-person or online, using a relationship counseling service like ReGain, can give you the guidance and support you need to take control of your mental health.
Counseling can help uninvolved parents learn how to adapt their parenting styles to meet their kids’ needs better. If uninvolved parents have negatively impacted your life, counseling can help you take back personal control, heal past wounds that come from your parents, and start changing your life for the better.
If the topic of counseling causes you to think of busy schedules or scrambling for babysitters, you may want to consider an online option. Below are some reviews of ReGain counselors from people experiencing similar issues.
“Joint understands that I come from a very toxic childhood, and I thank her sincerely for pushing me along the way to become a better person and stop the cycle.”
“Denae has a strong background in child psychology. We came to her because we’re figuring out how to navigate our first year with a newborn together. I Highly recommend this counselor.”
The uninvolved parenting styles cause significant challenges for people on both ends of the relationship, but these are struggles that can be fixed. If you are struggling with parenting choices, have a parent who lives out the uninvolved style, or knows someone facing one of these challenges, remembers that there are tools to help you move forward to a healthy and fulfilling future. Take the first step.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- What is uninvolved parenting?
Uninvolved parenting is sometimes also known as neglectful parenting. While it is loosely classified as a parenting style, it is more correctly described as a complete lack of a parenting style. It occurs when a parent’s needs, wishes, and desires come before their children’s. While many times the behavior is not intentional on the parent’s part, it is harmful.
Uninvolved parenting typically only takes care of a child’s basic needs, such as providing the basics of food, shelter, and clothing. A child is left largely to their own devices, and the uninvolved parent does not provide guidance, discipline, nurturing, or direction.
Uninvolved parents are often unresponsive to their children’s emotional needs and tend to be indifferent and dismissive when they ask for anything beyond necessities. Additionally, these parents tend to make few demands of their children, do not push them to their potential, and largely leave their children to their own devices.
The level of uninvolvement varies from parent to parent. Some may still enforce curfews, for example, while others are completely neglectful and let their children come and go as they please. Uninvolved parents may often be unaware of their children and may not notice their absence for long periods of time.
This type of parenting has the potential to become abusive or neglectful quickly. In some cases, the parents may never have wanted children, or they find some flaw with their children that they continue to blame them for. Uninvolved parents are often resentful of their children and may take that resentment out on them. This is why uninvolved parenting is also known as neglectful parenting.
- What are the effects of uninvolved parenting?
Children of uninvolved parents tend to be emotionally stunted and may not know how to express their feelings or emotions properly. Additionally, children of uninvolved parents tend to act out more, be more delinquent, and will often purposely get into trouble in an attempt to get attention.
Other effects of uninvolved parenting or neglectful parenting are that the children have a significantly increased risk of developing anxiety and depression or other mental health conditions and are more likely to have substance abuse problems later in life.
A child that has been exposed to uninvolved or neglectful parenting is very likely to become an adult that practices uninvolved or neglectful parenting themselves. Some other effects of uninvolved parenting on children include:
- Lack of trust
- Intimacy issues as an adult
- Being unable to rely on others
- Having to grow up and mature much faster than their peers
- Display deficits in learning, cognition, and social skills
- Lack of boundaries makes it difficult to learn or understand rules and laws
There are no positives to neglectful or uninvolved parenting. It is a type of parenting style that is usually the result of unresolved trauma, mental health problems, or other underlying issues on the parent’s part. A person does not usually actively decide that they are going to engage in uninvolved or neglectful parenting. However, that does not change the effects of uninvolved parenting on their children.
Additionally, this type of parenting style can be incredibly difficult to change or break a parent from, as neglectful or uninvolved parenting is typically not noticed by those outside the family until it has been happening for a long time. When neglectful parenting has gone on for so long, it can be difficult and nearly impossible for the parent to change their parenting style, even if they desire to.
This is why it is important to recognize issues in the home early to be addressed, and help can be provided to prevent a neglectful or uninvolved parenting style.
- How do you deal with uninvolved parents?
When it comes to neglectful or uninvolved parenting, the earlier that intervention happens, the better. It is usually an unconscious result of a struggle that the parent is going through with neglectful or uninvolved parenting. It may be possible to intervene and convert them to other parenting styles if they are aware of their actions and lack of interactions early enough.
While it is unlikely that they will become authoritative parents, they may adopt a permissive parenting style. In many cases, the parents need help themselves, so being prepared to provide them with government assistance, mental health care, or childcare options is imperative to achieving a good result.
Some ideas to help with engaging this type of parenting style are:
- Have frequent contact with the parents both in person, on the phone, and via email
- Encourage responses and two-way communication
- Schedule at home visits
- Encourage the parents to describe what they want to accomplish
- Help parents develop a way to become involved with their child’s activities
Dealing with an uninvolved parent takes a lot of effort and hard work to get them to see that they have to take an active and loving role in their child’s development to break the cycle and help them succeed. Family therapy can be effective in these situations by helping to open the lines of communication.
- What parenting style is the best?
The authoritative parenting style is widely regarded as the most effective and beneficial for children. While permissive parenting, authoritarian parenting, and uninvolved parenting all have a significant number of faults, the authoritative parenting style takes the best from all of them and tries to leave behind the bad parts.
It is a much more difficult parenting style to maintain and practice than either authoritarian parenting or permissive parenting. However, it is the best style for the development of a child. Some traits of authoritative parents are:
- They set rules that have consequences.
- They value their children’s opinions and feelings
- They respect their children but enforce that the parents are in charge
- Use positive discipline strategies to reinforce good behavior
- They don’t encourage or reward bad behavior
- Encourage their children to make their own decisions
- Show their children love and support
Children of authoritative parents tend to become well-rounded, successful adults that excel in life. They can make their own decisions, assess risk vs. rewards, and have healthy relationships throughout their lives.
- What are some good parenting rules?
Some good parenting rules to follow are:
- Your children watch everything you do, and they learn from you, make good decisions, and take your time to think of the consequences of your actions.
- You can’t love a child too much. You can still enforce rules and expectations while being kind and loving.
- Be involved with your children’s lives and show interest in everything that they do.
- Listen to your children when they express opinions or emotions, and validate them.
- Let them make their own decisions regarding less important things, such as choosing their clothing.
- Set rules and enforce them, but be reasonable.
- Be consistent with praise and expectations.