What Is Neglectful Parenting?

The phrase “no two parents are alike” is often understated but nevertheless accurate. There are enough parenting styles to help guide parents-to-be, though some seem to have a handle on just how they want to raise their children. Of the four main categories – authoritarian parenting, permissive parenting, authoritative parenting, and neglectful parenting, neglectful may be the most harmful of the four.

By Rick Gonzales | Published

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neglectful parenting

There are enough parenting styles to help guide parents-to-be, though some seem to have a handle on just how they want to raise their children. Of the four main categories – authoritarian parenting, permissive parenting, authoritative parenting, and neglectful parenting, neglectful may be the most harmful of the four.

Neglectful parenting immediately brings to light negative connotations. It is a parenting style where parents do not respond to their children’s needs or wants except for the basics of shelter, clothing, and food. A parent who uses this style makes no demands on their child and oftentimes is dismissive, indifferent, or as the style says, neglectful.

Aside from neglectful parenting, the other three main types of parenting are…

  • Authoritative parenting offers a wonderful combination of styles. The parent solves problems with their child. They set clear and concise rules as well as expectations for the child. They keep communication open but also allow for consequences for a misbehaving child.
  • In Authoritarian parenting, very high expectations are placed on the child. As a parent using this style, your focus is more on discipline, obedience, and control rather than the nurturing of your children. If a child makes a mistake, the punishment is harsh. If a child requires feedback, it is more than likely going to be negative.
  • The Permissive parenting style is child-driven. As a parent, you rarely give or enforce rules. Typically, the parent will also overindulge the child as a means of avoiding conflict.

What Is Neglectful Parenting, Exactly?

Back in the 1960s, psychologist Diana Baumrind conducted research on preschool-aged children and came away with three parenting styles: authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive. She used naturalistic observation as well as parental interviews to conclude these three styles. They held for a number of years before further research found that the neglectful parenting style should be added.

Neglectful parenting, also known as uninvolved parenting, is characterized by Baumrind in two components: parental responsiveness and parental demandingness. Neglectful parents are very low on both accounts.

Neglectful parents, in general, do not respond well to their children’s needs. They provide their children with little support and affection. They also make very few demands of their kids and rules are rarely if ever, set. They will not offer any guidance and have zero expectations for their child’s behavior.

This style of parenting has been and continues to be controversial. It is important to note, though, that many times taking the neglectful parenting route isn’t always a conscious decision. We’ll touch on that in a bit.

Before we move on, it is also important to know that neglectful parenting is not the same as free-range parenting, a subset parenting style. While neglectful parenting ignores just about every need of the child, free-range parents are both attentive and loving but allow their children plenty of freedom to make choices and experience the natural consequences of these choices.

It is also important to know the difference between a busy parent and a neglectful one. Just because a parent works all the time doesn’t make them a neglectful parent. If a parent who works a lot spends their free time with their children, this still makes them an involved parent. If a parent is showing care, that is what matters.

As for a neglectful parent, the signs are there, and they are fairly easy to spot. Some behaviors include emotional detachment from their children; making their (the parent) problems more important than their child’s; they provide little or no supervision; they have no expectations for their children; they have zero demands concerning their child’s behavior; they show no love or warmth toward their children; and lastly, they will always skip a school event or a parent-teacher conference.

How Neglectful Parenting Impacts Kids

The negative effects surrounding children raised in this fashion are many. Research has shown that children of a neglectful parenting style display shortfalls in attachment, cognition, emotional skills, and social skills.

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Some children raised by neglectful parents have difficulty forming emotional attachments later in life as they are taught at an early age not to have any with their parents. With the lack of boundaries given at home, kids find it difficult to learn or even understand the appropriate behaviors required in a school setting or other social situations, leading them to major behavior problems.

But with all this negativity surrounding a neglectful parenting style, are there any positives there are actually some possible benefits to it. One is that a child who is left to their own devices at an early age learns quickly to handle difficult situations on their own. This can possibly build a very self-motivated child.

Another possible benefit can be that a child with no choice but to grow on their own will reduce the chances of them developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is a condition seen in many young children if they were to grow up under very controlling parents.

Is It A Choice?

Many times becoming a neglectful parent isn’t a conscious decision. Some parents were raised by neglectful parents, so that is all they know. They repeat the same patterns, the same detachment, the same hands-off approach thinking it easier and more beneficial for their child’s growth.

In some cases, a parent is so self-involved that they fail to see how neglectful they are towards their own children. The parents’ problems are so large that a child’s emotional needs are never addressed.

The goal for our children should always be the same and that is to raise respectful, confident, strong, and intelligent kids. Most experts agree the way to do that is to be part of their lives. Neglectful parenting does the opposite. Consequences of raising your child this way are sure to be dire.