The Risks Of Having An Uninvolved Parenting Style

Updated March 26, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

Do you know what type of parenting style you utilize, or what type your parents used? Knowing how a child was raised can tell you a lot about their behavior as they age, and 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 least effective and can have detrimental effects for children that can extend into the teen and adult years.

Overview of the four main parenting styles

Curious about the risks of having an uninvolved parenting style?

These four parenting styles are currently recognized in the field of psychology, 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 – Also known as uninvolved parenting, the 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 through permissive parenting 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 more so 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. Additionally, 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-management.

  • 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, per the previously linked study, an uninvolved mother tends to be more harmful than an uninvolved father.

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 may 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 can take a while before all of this comes naturally, and it may mean learning to heal your inner child if you yourself were the recipient of uninvolved parenting as a child. 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 investigate 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 could 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 relation, or a teacher.

  • Journal about your experiences, thoughts, feelings, etc. and reflect on entries-as needed.

  • Practice self-care and self-love

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, grow, 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.

Online counseling for improving your parenting style

Curious about the risks of having an uninvolved parenting style?

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 often neglect their children’s emotional needs.

As a result, children of uninvolved parents can experience 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. Additionally, a study focusing on child-parent relationship therapy found that access to online therapy for children and adults alike is effective, was able to overall strengthen child-parent relationships, and increased access to mental healthcare for children in rural areas.

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.

Counselor reviews

“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.”

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