Uninvolved Parenting, also known as neglectful parenting, is a parenting style characterized by low responsiveness and low demandingness. Neglectful parents are uninvolved in meeting their children’s needs. Children of uninvolved parents fare the worst among the four Baumrind parenting styles.
The Four Baumrind Parenting Styles
In the 1960s, Diana Baumrind, a developmental psychologist at the University of California at Berkeley, identified three different types of parenting styles: authoritative parenting style, authoritarian parenting and permissive parenting. In 1983, Maccoby and Martin added a fourth type: uninvolved parenting style1.
These 4 parenting styles are categorized based on two dimensions: responsiveness and demandingness.
Characteristics of Uninvolved Parenting
Uninvolved parents are neither responsive nor demanding. Here are the common patterns of behavior an uninvolved parent would display:
- Show no warmth or affection towards their child.
- Act indifferent and distant. They do not help or take care of their child’s needs.
- Do not provide emotional supports, such as belonging and encouragement2.
- Do not set rules, boundaries or expectations on their child’s behavior. Also do not monitor or supervise them.
- Do not involve themselves in their child’s life overall.
- Intergenerational transmission of neglectful parenting – Research shows that neglected children will grow up 2.6 times more likely to become neglectful parents to their own kids, and twice as likely to be physically abusive parents3.
Causes of Uninvolved Parenting
Neglectful parents often come from dysfunctional families and have neglectful parents themselves when they were growing up.
Uninvolved parents tend to have mental issues of their own, including depression, alcoholism, and substance abuse.
One of the most common causes is a history of substance abuse in the family. Many addicted parents have been raised by addicted parents themselves (up to 83%) and neglected during childhood (up to 55%)4. Addicted parents who have antisocial personality characteristics and selection of mates predisposed to substance abuse or other psychiatric disorders are at an even higher risk of becoming neglectful parents.
Effects of Uninvolved Parenting
Uninvolved parenting is the worst parenting style among the four because research has found that child neglect has severe adverse effects on a child’s outcomes in development5. Children of uninvolved parents may experience the following effects.
- kids are more impulsive6
- underachieve in school7,8
- have fewer emotional regulation skills9
- lack social skills
- increased chance of mood disorder such as depression10
- tend to develop Borderline Personality Disorder11
- high risk for substance abuse. Neglected children of substance-abused parents are 4-10 times more likely to develop substance abuse themselves4.
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- 2.Berzenski SR. Distinct emotion regulation skills explain psychopathology and problems in social relationships following childhood emotional abuse and neglect. Dev Psychopathol. Published online March 22, 2018:483-496. doi:10.1017/s0954579418000020
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- 9.Shipman K, Edwards A, Brown A, Swisher L, Jennings E. Managing emotion in a maltreating context: A pilot study examining child neglect. Child Abuse & Neglect. Published online September 2005:1015-1029. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2005.01.006
- 10.Bernet CZ, Stein MB. Relationship of childhood maltreatment to the onset and course of major depression in adulthood. Depress Anxiety. Published online 1999:169-174. doi:11.Taillieu TL, Brownridge DA, Sareen J, Afifi TO. Childhood emotional maltreatment and mental disorders: Results from a nationally representative adult sample from the United States. Child Abuse & Neglect. Published online September 2016:1-12. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2016.07.005