Uninvolved Parenting and Its Effects on Children (2022)

Uninvolved parenting, sometimes referred to as neglectful parenting, is a style characterized by a lack of responsiveness to a child's needs. Uninvolved parents make few to no demands of their children and they are often indifferent, dismissive, or even completely neglectful.

During the 1960s, psychologist Diana Baumrind described three differentparenting stylesbased on her researchwith preschool-age children: authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive parenting. In later years, researchers added uninvolved parenting.

Characteristics

Baumrind characterized her parenting styles in terms of two key dimensions: parental responsiveness and parental demandingness. Uninvolved parents are low on both of these dimensions.

They do not respond well to the needs of their children and provide little affection, support, or love. They also make very few demands on their children. They rarely set rules and do not offer guidance or expectations for behavior.

Common Patterns of Behavior for Uninvolved Parents

  • Act emotionally distant from their children
  • Limit interactions with their children because they're too overwhelmed by their own problems
  • Provide little or no supervision
  • Set few or no expectations or demands for behavior
  • Show little warmth, love, and affection towards their children
  • Skip school events and parent-teacher conferences

Free-Range vs. Uninvolved Parents

It is important to note that uninvolved parenting is not the same as free-range parenting. Where uninvolved parents have no interest in their children's lives, free-range parents are loving and attentive but give their kids plenty of freedom to experience the natural consequences of their actions.

Busy Parents

It is also important to note that just because a parent is busy with work or other obligations does not mean they are uninvolved. Intent and caring matter. While parents may work a lot of hours, they are not uninvolved if they spend the free time they have with their kids and make sure their children are cared for when they cannot be with them.

Examples

Uninvolved parents have little emotional involvement with their kids. While they provide for basic needs like food and shelter, they are, for the most part, uninvolved in their children's lives. The exact degree of involvement may vary considerably.

Some uninvolved parents may be relatively hands-off with their kids, but may still have some basic limits such as curfews. Others may be downright neglectful or even reject their children outright. Kids might be given the bare minimum they need for survival, such as shelter, nourishment, and clothing, yet little or nothing in the way of guidance or affection.

Causes

It is important to note that uninvolved parenting is often not intentional. It may arise for a number of different reasons, including things like parental experience and stress.

Parents who exhibit an uninvolved parenting style were often raised by uninvolved and dismissive parents. As adults, they may find themselves repeating the same patterns they were raised with. Other parents who display this style may simply be so caught up in their busy lives that they find it easier to take a hands-off approach to dealing with their children.

In some cases, parents may be so wrapped up in their own problems (i.e., being overworked, coping with depression, struggling with substance abuse) that they actually fail to see how uninvolved they are with their children or are simply unable to provide the emotional support their children need.

(Video) Parenting Styles and their Effects on Children

Effects

Researchers associate parenting styles with a range of child outcomes in areas such as social skills and academic performance. The children of uninvolved parents generally perform poorly in nearly every area of life. These children tend to display deficits in cognition, attachment, emotional skills, and social skills.

Due to the lack of emotional responsiveness and love from their caretakers, children raised by uninvolved parents may have difficulty forming attachments later in life.

The complete lack of boundaries in the home makes it difficult to learn appropriate behaviors and limits in school and other social situations, which is why children with uninvolved parents are more likely to misbehave.

Outcomes Linked to Uninvolved Parenting

Children with uninvolved parents may:

  • Be anxious or stressed due to the lack of family support
  • Be motionally withdrawn
  • Fear becoming dependent on other people
  • Have an increased risk of substance abuse
  • Have to learn to provide for themselves
  • Exhibit more delinquency during adolescence

Parental Phubbing Leaves Kids Feeling Ignored and May Increase Depression

How to Respond

Uninvolved parenting can leave a lasting mark on kids, which you may continue to feel as an adult if you were raised by uninvolved parents. You may also fear repeating these patterns with your own children. There are things you can do to improve your parenting skills, such as:

  • Learn more about parenting: Read books, websites, and articles devoted to childrearing to learn more about effective approaches that are beneficial for children.
  • Take a parenting class: Parent training has been shown to help improve parental involvement. Check with local hospitals, schools, libraries, and community colleges to find parenting courses in your area.
  • Consider therapy: Talking to a mental health professional can help you contextualize your own experiences and develop new skills that will help you build healthy bonds and boundaries with your kids.
  • Get involved: Make an active effort to spend more time with your children. Listen to them and learn about their lives. Changing isn't easy and it may be more difficult if you are a busy, working parent. Focus on carving out whatever time you can to devote your undivided attention to your kids.

If you recognize that you have been an uninvolved parent, you may find family therapy helpful. A therapist can help you identify strategies that will help form closer connections, deeper bonds, and better responsiveness within your family unit.

While you can't change the past, there are also things you can do to help heal from being raised by uninvolved parents. Caring for yourself, developing healthy attachments with other people in your life, and speaking to a mental health professional are all steps you can take that can foster the healing process.

Get Advice From The Verywell Mind Podcast

Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast shares what mentally strong parents do.

(Video) Uninvolved Parenting

Uninvolved Parenting and Its Effects on Children (1)

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A Word From Verywell

It is clear from looking at the consequences of this type of child-rearing that the uninvolved parenting style is far from ideal. In order to raise confident children who are emotionally healthy and resilient, children need support, warmth, love, appropriate discipline, structure, and guidance from adults that they trust.

How Dysfunctional Behavior Affects Families

6 Sources

Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Baumrind D. Child care practices anteceding three patterns of preschool behavior. Genet Psychol Monogr. 1967;75(1):43-88.

  2. Zahed Zahedani Z, Rezaee R, Yazdani Z, Bagheri S, Nabeiei P. The influence of parenting style on academic achievement and career path.J Adv Med Educ Prof. 2016;4(3):130-134.

  3. Hong YR, Park JS. Impact of attachment, temperament and parenting on human development.Korean J Pediatr. 2012;55(12):449-454. doi:10.3345/kjp.2012.55.12.449

  4. Hoffmann JP, Bahr SJ. Parenting style, religiosity, peer alcohol use, and adolescent heavy drinking. J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2014;75(2):222-7. doi:10.15288/jsad.2014.75.222

  5. Hoskins D. Consequences of parenting on adolescent outcomes. Societies. 2014;4(3):506-531. doi:10.3390/soc4030506

  6. Rincón P, Cova F, Saldivia S, et al. Effectiveness of a positive parental practices training program for Chilean preschoolers' families: a randomized controlled trial.Front Psychol. 2018;9:1751. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01751

(Video) Uninvolved Parenting And Consequences DBpsychology

Uninvolved Parenting and Its Effects on Children (2)

By Kendra Cherry
Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.

FAQs

How does uninvolved parenting affect a child? ›

One major disadvantage of uninvolved parenting is that these children don't develop an emotional connection with their uninvolved parent. A lack of affection and attention at a young age can lead to low self-esteem or emotional neediness in other relationships.

How does ignoring a child affect them? ›

When you ignore your child, you do not neglect him or stand by while he misbehaves. Instead, you take all your attention away from your child and his behavior. Ignoring usually helps stop behaviors that your child is using to get your attention. This includes behaviors like throwing tantrums, whining, and interrupting.

What happens when a child is not nurtured? ›

More and more stories are coming to light about children who were abused, neglected and lacked basic nurturing care. They struggle to form deep and lasting relationships. Their lives as children and as adults are plagued with violence and substance abuse. They lack empathy and often struggle to integrate into society.

How do parenting styles affect children's development? ›

Authoritative parenting styles tend to result in children who are happy, capable, and successful. Permissive parenting often results in children who rank low in happiness and self-regulation. These children are more likely to experience problems with authority and tend to perform poorly in school.

What does uninvolved parenting mean? ›

Uninvolved parenting is a parenting style characterized by low responsiveness and low demandingness. These neglectful parents are uninvolved in their child's life. They do not meet their child's needs, whether it's basic or emotional needs. They also do not set boundaries or discipline their children.

What is the outcome of an uninvolved parenting? ›

Outcomes Linked to Uninvolved Parenting

Be anxious or stressed due to the lack of family support. Be motionally withdrawn. Fear becoming dependent on other people. Have an increased risk of substance abuse4.

What is the most damaging parenting style? ›

Authoritarian parents are more likely to raise children who are disrespectful and delinquent, research finds. Parents who are authoritarian tend to have very high standards for their children, punish them severely and are also cold and non-nurturing.

How do you deal with uninvolved parents? ›

How to Deal with Uninvolved Parents
  1. Don't assume it's because they don't care. Often time teachers make the mistake of assuming parents that are uninvolved don't care or are uninterested. ...
  2. Examine the barriers stopping them. ...
  3. Be more flexible. ...
  4. Leverage other people.
7 Jul 2018

What the silent treatment does to a child? ›

When children experience the silent treatment, it can lead to feelings of emotional abandonment. They are likely to engage in behaviors such as clinging or reassurance-seeking, anything they can do to try and get the parent to stop engaging in that behavior.

What are the 4 types of child neglect? ›

Answer
  • Physical Neglect. The failure to provide necessary food, clothing, and shelter; inappropriate or lack of supervision.
  • Medical Neglect. The failure to provide necessary medical or mental health treatment.
  • Educational Neglect. ...
  • Emotional Neglect.
27 Dec 2018

What does emotional neglect in childhood look like? ›

Child emotional neglect (CEN) is the parent's failure to meet their child's emotional needs during the early years. It involves unresponsive, unavailable, and limited emotional interactions between that person and the child. Children's emotional needs for affection, support, attention, or competence are ignored.

What happens to neglected children when they grow up? ›

Maltreatment can cause victims to feel isolation, fear, and distrust, which can translate into lifelong psychological consequences that can manifest as educational difficulties, low self-esteem, depression, and trouble forming and maintaining relationships.

What are the warning signs of child neglect? ›

Neglect signs and symptoms
  • Poor growth.
  • Excessive weight with medical complications that are not being adequately addressed.
  • Poor personal cleanliness.
  • Lack of clothing or supplies to meet physical needs.
  • Hoarding or stealing food.
  • Poor record of school attendance.
19 May 2022

How does strict parenting affect a child? ›

“The common problem that I found is from the family environment they grow up in. Those with strict parents and when parenting features threats and violent behavior,” he said. Such pressures can lead to sleep deprivation, eating disorders, anxiety, low self-esteem and poor academic performance, he added.

Why is parenting important in a child life? ›

Parents and caregivers offer their children love, acceptance, appreciation, encouragement, and guidance. They provide the most intimate context for the nurturing and protection of children as they develop their personalities and identities and also as they mature physically, cognitively, emotionally, and socially.

How does parenting style affect social emotional development? ›

Positive forms of parenting are beneficial for cognitive and social development, while negative parenting such as punishment and low warmth are associated with disruptive behavior in children and increased risk for psychopathology [11, 15].

Is uninvolved parenting abusive? ›

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.

Why do mothers neglect their children? ›

The causes of neglect are complex but my analysis has revealed some common themes. For example, poverty, family breakdown, and ill-health tend to be the root causes of some of the other causes on our list.

What happens when a baby is neglected? ›

These can include cognitive delays, stunting of physical growth, impairments in executive function and self-regulation skills, and disruptions of the body's stress response.

How do you heal from emotionally neglectful parents? ›

  1. Deeply acknowledge the way Emotional Neglect happened in your family and how it's affected you. ...
  2. Accept that your emotions are blocked off, but they are still there, waiting for you. ...
  3. Pay attention to your feelings. ...
  4. Keep an ongoing list of your Likes and Dislikes. ...
  5. Develop and practice compassion for yourself.
12 Feb 2022

What do you do when gentle parenting doesn't work? ›

Reparent yourself as you parent your child. Establish healthy boundaries and logical consequences for your child. Be willing to spend the extra time communicating, holding space, validating, and responding to your child because the benefits are worth it in the long term.

What are the biggest parenting mistakes? ›

A therapist shares the 7 biggest parenting mistakes that destroy kids' mental strength
  • Minimizing your kid's feelings. ...
  • Always saving them from failure. ...
  • Overindulging your kids. ...
  • Expecting perfection. ...
  • Making sure they always feel comfortable. ...
  • Not setting parent-child boundaries. ...
  • Not taking care of yourself.
25 May 2020

What are the hardest years of parenting? ›

It's no wonder then that research finds that the hardest years of parenting are the tween, (or middle school if you're in the USA) years. They may be less physically exhausting than the early years, but emotionally they are so much more exhausting.

Is it good to be a laid back parent? ›

While their laid-back approach is sure not to stifle a child's development, children of relaxed rulers might not receive enough guidance and hands-on training. As a result, kids may not learn all the skills they need to become their best.

How do you engage disengaged parents? ›

Explore with families what they want schools to accomplish. Devise opportunities for involvement that parents see as practical and meaningful. Reach out to parents with warmth and sensitivity over and over. Develop an ongoing training program in which parents and staff are both teachers and learners.

What is cold mother syndrome? ›

Emotionally absent or cold mothers can be unresponsive to their children's needs. They may act distracted and uninterested during interactions, or they could actively reject any attempts of the child to get close. They may continue acting this way with adult children.

Why some parents don't love their child? ›

Parents have unresolved trauma in their own lives.

For example, a parent who cannot bear to be reminded of his own childhood sadness may be vindictive or punishing to his children when they cry. Another parent may suppress her children's pain in just the opposite way—by over-comforting and over-protecting them.

Why the silent treatment is toxic? ›

The silent treatment is a particularly insidious form of abuse because it might force the victim to reconcile with the perpetrator in an effort to end the behavior, even if the victim doesn't know why they're apologizing. “It's especially controlling because it deprives both sides from weighing in,” Williams said.

What is the psychology behind the silent treatment? ›

Research has found that people who received the silent treatment experienced a threat to their needs of belonging, self-esteem, control, and meaningful existence. This type of behavior reinforces the feeling that someone we care about wants nothing to do with us. It can feel as though you don't exist.

Is silent treatment a trauma response? ›

Not All Silent Treatment is a Sign of Narcissism — Sometimes, It's a Trauma Response.

What is the toxic trio? ›

The term 'Toxic Trio' has been used to describe the issues of domestic abuse, mental ill-health and substance misuse which have been identified as common features of families where harm to children and adults has occurred.

Why do children still love abusive parents? ›

Attorneys and other professionals need to know that the reasons children may want to be with an abusive parent may be based on attachment issues, feelings of shame, psychobiology, and a lack of understanding that they are even in an abusive situation.

Is a messy house child neglect? ›

Yes, child protective services can take your child if you have a messy house and if the messy house is a danger to the child.

What happens to adults who were neglected as a child? ›

Effects of Emotional Neglect In Adult Relationships

Some effects of emotional neglect are: Higher rates of anxiety, depression, and other psychiatric disorders. More frequent negative emotions like anger, guilt, shame, and fear. Higher risk for substance use disorders and addictions.

What happens when a child is deprived of love? ›

They will be unable to comfort themselves, trust others, love themselves, and will face many difficulties finding fulfillment, meaning, and contentment in their adult relationships. They will not know what healthy love looks and feels like.

Is childhood neglect a trauma? ›

Childhood trauma takes several forms, such as physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and emotional neglect. Emotional neglect is complex trauma that can result in complex post traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD).

Is uninvolved parenting abusive? ›

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.

What does an emotionally neglectful parent look like? ›

Child emotional neglect (CEN) is the parent's failure to meet their child's emotional needs during the early years. It involves unresponsive, unavailable, and limited emotional interactions between that person and the child. Children's emotional needs for affection, support, attention, or competence are ignored.

What are signs of a neglectful parent? ›

Uninvolved parenting, sometimes referred to as neglectful parenting, is a style characterized by a lack of responsiveness to a child's needs. Uninvolved parents make few to no demands of their children and they are often indifferent, dismissive, or even completely neglectful.

How do you deal with uninvolved parents? ›

How to Deal with Uninvolved Parents
  1. Don't assume it's because they don't care. Often time teachers make the mistake of assuming parents that are uninvolved don't care or are uninterested. ...
  2. Examine the barriers stopping them. ...
  3. Be more flexible. ...
  4. Leverage other people.
7 Jul 2018

What are the 4 types of child neglect? ›

Answer
  • Physical Neglect. The failure to provide necessary food, clothing, and shelter; inappropriate or lack of supervision.
  • Medical Neglect. The failure to provide necessary medical or mental health treatment.
  • Educational Neglect. ...
  • Emotional Neglect.
27 Dec 2018

What is cold mother syndrome? ›

Emotionally absent or cold mothers can be unresponsive to their children's needs. They may act distracted and uninterested during interactions, or they could actively reject any attempts of the child to get close. They may continue acting this way with adult children.

Why do mothers neglect their children? ›

The causes of neglect are complex but my analysis has revealed some common themes. For example, poverty, family breakdown, and ill-health tend to be the root causes of some of the other causes on our list.

What happens to adults who were neglected as a child? ›

The most common effects of childhood neglect in adulthood include: post-traumatic stress disorder. depression. emotional unavailability.

How do you tell if a child is emotionally neglected? ›

Signs of Childhood Emotional Neglect
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Difficulty regulating emotions.
  • Inability to ask for or accept help or support from others.
  • Heightened sensitivity to rejection.
  • Lack of language for describing feelings.
  • Dissociative tendencies.
  • Shame or guilt around emotions.
24 Sept 2020

How Does not spending time with your child affect them? ›

1. Breakdown of Family Bonds. Lack of a conversation may lead to erosion of family values such as empathy, shared hobbies, love and accommodation. When parents and children start leading separate lives, lots of secrets are left untold leading to damaged relationships in the family.

What is it called when a parent doesn't take care of their child? ›

In general, child neglect is considered the failure of parents or caregivers to meet the needs that are necessary for the mental, physical, and emotional development of a child. Child neglect is one of the most common forms of child maltreatment, and it continues to be a serious problem for many children.

What does childhood neglect look like in adults? ›

Effects of Emotional Neglect In Adult Relationships

Some effects of emotional neglect are: Higher rates of anxiety, depression, and other psychiatric disorders. More frequent negative emotions like anger, guilt, shame, and fear. Higher risk for substance use disorders and addictions.

How do you heal from emotionally neglectful parents? ›

  1. Deeply acknowledge the way Emotional Neglect happened in your family and how it's affected you. ...
  2. Accept that your emotions are blocked off, but they are still there, waiting for you. ...
  3. Pay attention to your feelings. ...
  4. Keep an ongoing list of your Likes and Dislikes. ...
  5. Develop and practice compassion for yourself.
12 Feb 2022

How do you engage disengaged parents? ›

Explore with families what they want schools to accomplish. Devise opportunities for involvement that parents see as practical and meaningful. Reach out to parents with warmth and sensitivity over and over. Develop an ongoing training program in which parents and staff are both teachers and learners.

Why some parents don't love their child? ›

Parents have unresolved trauma in their own lives.

For example, a parent who cannot bear to be reminded of his own childhood sadness may be vindictive or punishing to his children when they cry. Another parent may suppress her children's pain in just the opposite way—by over-comforting and over-protecting them.

What do you do when gentle parenting doesn't work? ›

Reparent yourself as you parent your child. Establish healthy boundaries and logical consequences for your child. Be willing to spend the extra time communicating, holding space, validating, and responding to your child because the benefits are worth it in the long term.

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3. Uninvolved Parenting 3 of 4
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5. Parenting Styles: Uninvolved/Neglectful
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6. Parenting style 2 of 4 Uninvolved parent part 1
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