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Uninvolved Parenting – Why It’s The Worst Parenting Style

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.

boy sitting in front of window in uninvolved parenting styles, not the same as authoritative parenting style

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 style​1​.

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 encouragement​2​.
  • 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 parents​3​.

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 development​5​. Children of uninvolved parents may experience the following effects.

  • kids are more impulsive​6​
  • underachieve in school​7,8​
  • have fewer emotional regulation skills​9​
  • lack social skills
  • increased chance of mood disorder such as depression​10​
  • tend to develop Borderline Personality Disorder​11​
  • high risk for substance abuse. Neglected children of substance-abused parents are 4-10 times more likely to develop substance abuse themselves​4​.

Reference

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    Huver RME, Otten R, de Vries H, Engels RCME. Personality and parenting style in parents of adolescents. Journal of Adolescence. Published online June 2010:395-402. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2009.07.012
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    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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    Kim J. Type-specific intergenerational transmission of neglectful and physically abusive parenting behaviors among young parents. Children and Youth Services Review. Published online July 2009:761-767. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2009.02.002
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    Dunn MG, Tarter RE, Mezzich AC, Vanyukov M, Kirillova G. Origins and consequences of child neglect in substance abuse families. Clinical Psychology Review. Published online 2002:1063 – 1090.
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    Trickett PK, McBride-Chang C. The Developmental Impact of Different Forms of Child Abuse and Neglect. Developmental Review. Published online September 1995:311-337. doi:10.1006/drev.1995.1012
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    AUNOLA K, STATTIN H, NURMI J-E. Parenting styles and adolescents’ achievement strategies. Journal of Adolescence. Published online April 2000:205-222. doi:10.1006/jado.2000.0308
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    BOON HJ. Low- and high-achieving Australian secondary school students: Their parenting, motivations and academic achievement. Australian Psychologist. Published online September 2007:212-225. doi:10.1080/00050060701405584
  8. 8.
    Pinquart M. Associations of Parenting Styles and Dimensions with Academic Achievement in Children and Adolescents: A Meta-analysis. Educ Psychol Rev. Published online September 7, 2015:475-493. doi:10.1007/s10648-015-9338-y
  9. 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
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