Neglectful parenting, also commonly referred to as uninvolved parenting, is a parenting style where the parent is unavailable for his or her child both physically and emotionally.
What sets neglectful parenting apart from the other parenting styles is the fact that the parents do not show much support for their children. Most of the time, the children are left alone, and they make their own decisions and judgments without parental guidance.
Parents show little responsiveness to children’s needs and wishes, communication between parent and child is minimal and there is generally low support and low behavioral control. —a group of reseachers from the Netherlands
The Psychological Causes of Neglectful Parenting
According to psychology, neglectful parenting has underlying causes and triggers, as described below:
- Firstly, most parents who practice neglectful parenting may have experienced neglectful parenting as children; hence, they lack emotional attachment and empathy for children and childhood.
- Secondly, neglectful parents may have high work demands and work for long hours. As a result, they are not physically or emotionally available for their children.
- Thirdly, neglectful parents could be battling a serious problem like drug and substance abuse. Oftentimes, the problem is so serious that the parents ignore their children’s needs.
Neglectful parents who suffer from depression and intense stress tend to disregard their parental roles and responsibilities. Consequently, neglectful parenting has a negative impact on the child that adversely affects his or her growth and development.
The Harmful Effects of Neglectful Parenting
Neglectful parenting is not recommended by child psychologists due to its adverse effects on children during both childhood and adulthood. Research on the subject shows the following effects of neglectful parenting on children:
- Emotional withdrawal. Because the parents are often absent, the children learn to be alone most of the time. The children also do not develop emotional attachments because the parents do not provide enough care and attention. And so, they remain withdrawn and emotionally distant from others and may not even understand why emotional attachments are necessary.
- Fear, anxiety, and stress. Children of neglectful parents are left to make their own decisions, and so they may become fearful or anxious in social situations because of a lack of sufficient guidance and support.
- Increased risk of delinquency and substance abuse. Children of neglectful parents lack discipline and moral guidance, which may result in poor choices and make them vulnerable to delinquency and substance abuse.
- Low self-esteem, self-confidence, and behavioral control. A lack of limitations or behavioral expectations results in children who are difficult to control and who do not respond well to authority figures, such as teachers. They also lack confidence in what they do since they do not know whether it is right or wrong.
- Poor academic performance and social skills. A lack of proper guidance results in uninformed decisions and wrong choices resulting in poor academic performance and failed social lives for the children.
- Van der Geest, K. E., S. Y. M. Mérelle, G. Rodenburg, D. Van de Mheen, and C. M. Renders. “Cross-Sectional Associations between Maternal Parenting Styles, Physical Activity and Screen Sedentary Time in Children.” BMC Public Health 17:753 (2017). doi:10.1186/s12889-017-4784-8. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- Lamborn, Susie D., Nina S. Mounts, Laurence Steinberg, and Sanford M. Dornbusch. “Patterns of Competence and Adjustment among Adolescents from Authoritative, Authoritarian, Indulgent, and Neglectful Families.” Child Development 62, no. 5 (1991): 1049–1065. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2zeTFM8