The Risks Of Having An Uninvolved Parenting Style
Updated February 11, 2020
Reviewer Karen Devlin, LPC
Do you know what type of parenting style you have, or what type your parents had? Knowing what parenting style(s) a child was raised with 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 their mental health.
Some parenting 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. The uninvolved parenting style, on the other hand, 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
Four main parenting 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, which can lead to issues like low self-esteem.
By classifying and studying these different parenting 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 the positive and negative effects of these four parenting styles 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 both responsiveness and demandingness, children of 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 is worse than an uninvolved father (and yes, you can have two parents with varying parenting styles).
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 to do 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're going to 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 an uninvolved 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 style. A trained counselor will be able to look into the way you parent today, and show you how to make changes little by little until you are able to be the parent you desire to be for your children. They can share advice and parenting skills with you, while also giving you a safe place to discuss your journey with someone who is rooting for you the whole time.
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 a good idea 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, but 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:
- Confront your parent(s) about how their parenting style has influenced you and share your needs or feelings with them
- 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, an uninvolved parenting style 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 these children end up lacking discipline and proper boundaries. These parents also neglect their children's emotional needs.
As a result, kids of 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 style 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. ReGain has mental health professionals who are available to meet with you online, so you can stay in the comfort and privacy of your own home. Below are some reviews of ReGain counselors, from peoplee experiencing similar issues.
"Joiet 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. She understands couples dynamics, personality styles and is very knowledgeable on secure attachment and how to raise a child to feel seen, understood, safe and heard. I Highly recommend this counselor."
The uninvolved parenting styles causes 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 know someone who is facing one of these challenges, remember that there are tools to help you move forward to a healthy and fulfilling future. Take the first step.