What Neglectful Parenting Means For The Child

Updated August 23, 2023by Regain Editorial Team

The way you parent makes a difference. There are many different parenting styles and philosophies and most of them are centered on the child’s best interest. Neglectful parenting, also known as uninvolved parenting, is not one of these harmless approaches, though. It can have a significant negative impact on a child that lasts well into adulthood. 

What Is Neglectful Parenting?

Trouble With Parenting?

Neglectful parenting is sometimes also referred to as uninvolved parenting. Parents who employ this style of parenting may not have much involvement in their child's life. They might not readily respond to their child’s needs. For most parenting styles, the idea is to take care of the needs of the child whenever necessary, but with neglectful parenting, the child could often be left to their own devices. They may have to learn to take care of their needs on their own, generally from a young age.

These types of parents may have little to no demands for the child, which means that the child is mostly left to spend their time as they wish. Uninvolved parents may be dismissive of the child in general. There may be little emotional involvement between these types of parents and their children, and moms and dads might prefer to stay out of the child’s life as much as possible. These parents may provide for things like food, shelter, and other necessities that the child may have, but they tend to leave the rest up to the child. 

With uninvolved parents, there may be different levels of neglect. Some parents may have a few rules that the child is expected to obey. Others might allow the child complete freedom with no rules. Some parents could even reject their child entirely and pay no attention to them. There may be little love or warmth shown in any of these types of relationships.

Neglectful parents may avoid social events, school events, and other important aspects of their child's life. They could provide little or no supervision, and they may be emotionally distant. They might avoid the child intentionally, or they may have problems of their own that they feel are more important for them to deal with. These types of parents might be living in an entirely different world from their children. The children may learn to get by and to manage on their own without the need for parents or other adults to help them.

Positive Traits For Children

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Children are resilient, and they tend to learn and grow in ways we can't always explain. Children who are raised by neglectful parents may be more independent than their peers. They may even have difficulty being dependent on anyone, which can impact their relationships later in life, even as it allows them to be self-reliant. These children will learn early on how to problem solve and take care of themselves. They may even develop some skills ahead of their peers because of this increased responsibility.

The Downfall Of Neglectful Parenting

Still, there are many problems associated with neglectful parenting. For one thing, the child may learn to be independent, but they also learn that they cannot rely on anyone to help them. This can lead them to struggle forming relationships with friends and with a partner later in life. They may always have a fear that the person who they depend on may leave them and that they will be alone again. This can lead to problems trusting others and could cause the individual to become emotionally withdrawn.

Because they had few to no rules or consequences growing up, children of neglectful parents may be more likely to get involved in problematic behaviors. They could engage in delinquent behavior and get in even more trouble as they get older. They might have difficulty understanding boundaries and rules because they haven’t experienced structure in their home life. This can translate to difficulty in understanding appropriate behavior in social and professional situations.

A lack of family support can also lead to increased fear, anxiety, and stress. In a neglectful environment, the child may be constantly seeking approval and attention but never receive it. The child may continue to act out in ways that are designed to bring about more attention but tend to have the opposite effect. They may also develop depression because of the intense stress they put on themselves and the level of anxiety and fear that comes with being neglected and feeling unloved. 

Children who are raised with this parenting style may have difficulty with cognition, emotional skills, social skills, and attachment. Because they felt little to no attachment or love during their childhood, they may not know how to seek these out later in life. They also tend to have difficulty learning skills that their parents might have been responsible for teaching them. All these things can lead to problems as they continue to grow and develop, leading to even more difficulty adjusting later on.

Are You A Neglectful Parent?

If you recognize any of the traits of a neglectful parent in yourself, it could be important to talk to a professional therapist, counselor, or parenting expert. Parenting classes and other interventions are available that can help you to understand what type of parenting your child needs and just how to provide it. You can become a better parent at any stage in the process. Small children may be welcoming of changes that make you more involved in their lives, but as the child gets older, they may resist these types of transitions.  

Keep in mind that making changes for your child is an important step in helping them to become well-adjusted adults. No matter how late it seems, you can start making changes and give your child a better chance for their future. It's never too late. 

Were Your Parents Neglectful?

Trouble With Parenting?

If you were the child of neglectful parents, it might be beneficial to seek out professional help as well. Neglectful parenting can leave scars on the child, and it can lead to problems in their future. If you struggle to form relationships or respect rules and boundaries, these are things that you can learn. Other side effects from neglectful parenting can also have a lasting effect on you. Learning to cope with these and to work through them can lead to more success as well as a healthy and happy life.

Some people shy away from therapy because they think that seeking out professional help means that they are weak or broken. If you feel like this, consider that investing in therapy means that you think enough of yourself to ensure you live a happy and healthy life going forward, despite your upbringing. If you still have doubts about therapy, consider online counseling as an alternative to traditional therapy. This form of remote therapy can be accessed from the comfort of your home, and a web-based therapeutic environment reportedly helps put people at ease discussing sensitive topics like their childhood. 

This form of internet-based therapy has also been proven effective by researchers in the field of mental health. A comprehensive meta-analysis of studies conducted revealed that online counseling can be just as effective as in-person counseling in treating a variety of mental health challenges and conditions. The study reviewed nearly 10,000 individual cases and included various populations. 


Whatever challenges you’ve faced in the past, consider that change is possible. You can live the life you deserve. You just need the tools and resources to effect positive change. You don’t have to do it alone, either. Regain is here to help every step of the way. Reach out today and get started down the path of renewed self-worth and self-actualization. 

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