Neglectful parenting, also known as uninvolved parenting, is a parenting style where parents don’t respond to their child’s needs as often as they should. The focus is on the basic necessities like food, shelter, and clothing. The children receive minimal guidance, attention, and nurturing from their parents. It’s almost like, children are left to make decisions, big or small, on their own.

Neglectful Parenting – The Characteristics, Examples, & Impact

Neglectful parenting, also known as uninvolved parenting, is a parenting style where parents don’t respond to their child’s needs as often as they should. The focus is on the basic necessities like food, shelter, and clothing. The children receive minimal guidance, attention, and nurturing from their parents. It’s almost like, children are left to make decisions, big or small, on their own.

Neglectful or Uninvolved parenting

Although neglectful parenting is new to be characterized as a parenting style it has been around for quite some time now. It is one of the controversial parenting styles, given that the name adds a lot of negative light to the parenting style. People start judging the moment they see a parent following this style. This parenting style may be applicable to both or just a single parent.

It is important to know, that parenting styles are not all intentional. The initial responses are all-natural and the only difference is realizing that you need to do better as a parent. Let’s take a look at the signs and characteristics of neglectful parenting and how it impacts the child.

Signs and Characteristics of Neglectful Parenting

The reasons why parents somehow choose neglectful parenting to raise their kids vary. Parents often feel stressed, tired, frustrated, or overworked due to their busy life schedules. Hence, they are not left with anything more to offer to their child. Be it attention, guidance, disciplining, or some quality time together.

Neglectful parents are the very least involved with their children. Even when things get out of control, rather than taking the correct disciplinary actions, they end up giving timeouts to their kids for everything. There is a serious emotional disconnect between the parents and the child.

Some of the very evident signs of neglectful parents are;

1. Lack of emotional connect

One of the very first things that are evident in neglectful parenting is the lack of emotional connection. The parents prefer staying aloof from their kids emotionally. While it may seem extremely rude and inconsiderate but this can also happen unintentionally.

When parents become too busy in “their” routines, it becomes a natural consequence that they have lesser time to connect with their family. With so much going on in their life, maintaining a healthy emotional connection with their children seems like a challenge.

Often parents who are neglectful tend to just believe that they are providing the basics – food, shelter, and clothing, and that is all a child needs to grow. Whereas, the most important factor in a parent-child relationship is the emotional connection. It provides a strong foundation for the child to build their future relationships and learn through their experiences.

2. Prioritizing themselves

The lack of emotional connection is interconnected with parents prioritizing their needs and schedules over their child’s. Whether it is work, social life, or any other interests, neglectful or uninvolved parents are very much preoccupied with their own stuff and have no time left for their kids.

A few extremely uninvolved parents would reject or neglect their children altogether. For them. Everything comes before their children. Their children are not their priority and they expect very little of them.

For some parents, these neglectful events are small. Like choosing to watch their favorite TV show when their child needs them. Or working overtime on their assignments when they should be giving time to family. Either way, neglecting behavior leaves an impact on the child’s psychology and development.

3. No interest in their child’s activities

By now, you might have guessed the pattern. Neglectful parents have a few strings attached to their kids. They have an intense lack of affection towards their child. Because they don’t really care about their child, neglectful parents show no interest in being a part of their child’s life.

That includes, being present for PTA meetings, or cheering their child in sports events, or anything that is a part of their child’s daily routine.

4. Correct disciplinary actions are non-existent

Parents with a neglectful parenting style also lack in setting the right disciplinary actions for their kids. As long as the child’s behavior starts to affect them and their business, such parents do not offer any kind of correction.

At the essence of neglectful parenting, it means that the parents stay in their lane as long as the child starts to bother them and their life becomes difficult. That is the only time a neglectful parent would do something about it – to keep “themselves” at ease.

Uninvolved parents let their child be to act however they want. Even if the child performs poorly at school, gets involved in unsolicited activities, or indulges in extreme behaviors, the neglectful parents don’t seem to care unless it affects them.

5. Child is clueless

With neglectful parents in charge, the kids are technically raising themselves by themselves. The absence of strong adult supervision leads them to the grey areas where they have no idea what is expected of them and how they are supposed to act in the household.

This last point ties together all the other points discussed earlier. The child is left clueless to figure out what they are supposed to do and what not. They feel rejected and are left to ponder on the reasons why they are being rejected again and again.

Examples of Neglectful or Uninvolved Parenting

It is important to understand that neglectful parenting is not the same as busy parents or free-range parenting. As long as the parents are loving, have an emotional connection, and prioritize being with their kids, they are not neglectful parents.

Uninvolved or neglectful parents have very little emotional connection with their kids. Although the exact degree of involvement may vary, the fact that they do not prioritize their kids above other things does not change.

Here are a few examples that may represent neglectful or uninvolved parenting styles:

  • Ignoring your child just for the sake of not wanting to spend time with them
  • Being consumed by your own interests and giving no attention to your child
  • Choosing to spend your time on social media than to spare a little quality time with your child
  • You are struggling with your own mental health issues
  • You treat your child exactly how you were treated by your parents – neglected
  • Your own emotional needs are not met and hence you don’t have the emotional capacity to invest the same for your kids
  • Leaving your child to fend for themselves like not providing proper fresh meals
  • Staying away from your child’s schooling and extracurricular activities

Neglectful parents have a lack of interest in their kids. Some parents may seem like neglectful parents especially when they are under stress. It is also true, that no parenting style is a permanent one. Your parenting style may change over time. The important thing here is to remember that you have control to turn your relationship with your child around.

Impact of Neglectful Parenting

The basic need of a child to develop healthy starts from a present parent. Uninvolved parenting affects a child’s development severely. These impacts are long-term and they often cause mental issues like anxiety, depression, anger issues, and stress. These are some of the very common adverse effects of neglectful parenting:

  • Low self-esteem 
  • Underachievers in school and extra-curricular activities
  • Lack in self-control
  • Prone towards impulsive behavior
  • Fewer emotional regulations skills
  • High chances of mental disorders like depression, anxiety, or mood disorders
  • Poor social skills
  • Tend to develop a borderline personality disorder
  • High risk of indulging in substance abuse and unsolicited activities
  • Severe behavioral problems like anger issues
  • Becoming emotionally abusive towards others

What You Can Do Instead Of Being A Neglectful Parent?

If you have realized where you went wrong, then you have already conquered the most difficult step. From here onwards, you can start connecting with your child to improve your relationship through these simple tips:

  • Acknowledge to your child that you have been unavailable but now you are ready to change that.
  • Willingly increase your interaction time with your child. Your child may feel distant but understand the trauma your child has been through due to your emotional absence.
  • Talk to your child and ask open-ended questions. Try to learn the personality of your child and work on yourself to become the right parent for them
  • Ask your child for help. Let your child in. Especially if they are at the age where they can understand your emotional journey
  • Become a part of your child’s life in every event you can. Be it school, extracurricular activities, marriage, or any other important aspect of their life
  • Apologize for your absence and take a step forward to build and maintain a healthy parent-child relationship
  • Seek parenting counseling because parenting is tough and it is okay if you cannot grasp the concept of parenting. Nobody is perfect

Take Away

You are undoubtedly the most important person in your child’s life. The void of an absent parent can never be fulfilled by anything in this universe. A child can never fully recover from the childhood trauma they went through.

It is never too late to acknowledge your mistakes and work on your behavior to make things right for yourself and your child.

Read This Next