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Uninvolved parenting, which is also known as neglectful or indifferent parenting, is another one of the four main parenting styles discovered by Diana Baumrind. It requires less introduction than the other parenting styles. Uninvolved parenting is like permissive parenting, where both styles have low demandingness; however, uninvolved parenting has very low to no responsiveness as compared to permissive parenting. They practically allow their children to care for themselves.
Characteristics of uninvolved parenting
Unlike permissive parents, who are emotionally responsive, uninvolved parents aren’t emotionally responsive. They aren’t interested in nurturing their children. They may ignore their children’s emotional needs, giving them little to no affection, support, and love. They are not generous with their words, such as saying words of encouragement or praising them when their children do well.
They see children as a nuisance. They don’t interact much with their children and often leave them to their own devices. They don’t even bother to listen to their children’s opinions. Having the responsibility of a child is bothersome to these uninvolved parents.
In other words, they have a lack of interest in building a family. They like their space and express irritation when their children invade that space. Hence, training and disciplining their children is out of the question.
They don’t set rules or boundaries. They don’t guide and train their children as how parents should. They are just totally not aware of how their children behave, react, or respond to situations. Spend no time guiding them in decision-making. They are indifferent toward their children’s academic, social and emotional states.
In summary, the common behavior of an uninvolved parent includes:
- Show no warmth or affection towards their children. In other words, they are cold and distant.
- Provide no emotional support to their children.
- Act very indifferently towards their children’s welfare.
- Set no rules or boundaries, and don’t bother to discipline their children.
- Do not show interest in their children’s academics, such as schoolwork, activities, or performance.
- Do not spend time and interact with their children.
- Do not give a chance to their children to speak up and listen to them.
Examples of uninvolved parenting
Let’s look at a few examples of uninvolved parents:
1. Busyness or lack of quality time
Parents nowadays are very goal driven. They have goals and dreams to achieve in life. But uninvolved parents are so self-oriented that they would rather pursue their goals in life like career, business, ministry, and pleasure that they neglect their parental responsibilities. They have little to no time to spend with their children. They don’t plan and set aside some time to spend with their children. Hence, their children feel neglected and are not getting the amount of attention that they need. However, not all busy parents are uninvolved parents.
2. Lack of warmth
On top of not getting the attention that they need, uninvolved parents also don’t bother showing enough emotional support to their children. For instance, if their teenage child has a problem in school, such as bullying, getting picked on, or being looked down, uninvolved parents are unable to provide warmth and emotional support. They may ignore their children’s problems or push them away by asking them to seek help from others, such as their teachers or peers.
3. Lack of guidance and consequences
When their child is misbehaving, such as not wanting to bathe, eat or keep their toys, uninvolved parents will not intervene or try to address the problem. Another example would be when their older children get themselves involved in illegal activities such as the use of drugs and alcohol. They don’t see the need to talk to them and explain to them the consequences. There may be rules in place, but they don’t enforce them. They let their children be because these parents feel they have other more important issues to deal with than their children’s welfare.
Impacts of uninvolved parenting
Children with uninvolved parents are believed to fare the worst among the four Baumrind parenting styles; hence, it is considered the worst style to adopt. Uninvolved parenting can impact a child very negatively in their well-being and social development.
1. Poor academic achievement
Parents play a significant role in a child’s academic achievement. Hence, children brought up by uninvolved parents are at an academic disadvantage. In other words, they may not get the education at a level appropriate or resources to complete an assignment. This may greatly hinder their learning.
2. Substitute role models
As a result of not having a good role model parent, children of uninvolved parents will tend to seek substitute role models from outside of the family. Their aim in seeking a role model is to feel warmth, affection, and acceptance, which they don’t get from their own parents. If they happen to connect with a good role model, it will help the child in his or her development. However, if they have chosen an unhealthy role model, it will further negatively impact the child’s development.
3. Difficulty in maintaining a relationship
Uninvolved parents don’t interact much with their children. Hence, there are no social skills being developed even at home. Good communication skill starts at home. But a lack of social skills will cause the child to have the inability to communicate well with others; as a result, they will face a challenge in maintaining a good relationships when they grow up.
4. Impulsive and lack of self-control
With no guidance and direction from their uninvolved parents, children will not learn how to respond or behave appropriately in different social circumstances. They may be more impulsive and rebellious, especially when they don’t get what they want. They may face disciplinary problems at home, in school, or in any social setting.
5. Disregarding authority
Since submission to authority isn’t being established and taught at home, children of uninvolved parents will grow up disregarding authority, like children coming from permissive families. This is because parents do not discipline or guide them. They are being left to care for themselves and do what they want with no one to instruct and pay attention to them.
6. Substance use
Due to the lack of communication and interaction, uninvolved parents do not spend time having conversations about the consequences of certain decisions made. Hence, these children will more likely want to experiment with different things, including drugs and alcohol. It is especially so if they have an unhealthy role model. As a result, they fall into addictions and get involved in illegal activities.
What is the biblical perspective of uninvolved parenting?
Like the permissive parenting style, scripture does not support the uninvolved parenting style. It contradicts what the scripture commands regarding disciplining a child and establishing a loving relationship with a child.
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4 (NASB)
“But now faith, hope and love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NASB)
King David is a biblical example of an uninvolved parent. Through his sins, David was a poor example to his children. But he was also a poor father in other ways, too. He did not discipline his children when it was needed. That was why his children continued to sin.
There are two examples of this. First, his son Adonijah tried to usurp the throne when David was old and frail. He got himself chariots and horses ready, with fifty men to run ahead of him. David, or the Lord, himself didn’t declare that Adonijah would descend the throne after King David.
However, King David did nothing to stop Adonijah’s actions. He not only permitted his son to continue his evil action but also didn’t rebuke him (1 Kings 1:5-6). He was totally uninvolved in the discipline of his son.
In another scenario, Amnon, also King David’s son, assaulted his sister Tamar (Tamar was Amnon’s half-sister). When King David heard about this, he was furious at Amnon’s actions. It was right for David to be angry; however, David did nothing to correct Amnon or protect Tamar. Later, we learn that Tamar’s brother, Absalom, who knew of this attack, killed Amnon in revenge for his sister (2 Samuel 13).
David’s failure to respond after Amnon attacked Tamar contributed to Amnon’s murder. If David had carried out biblical correction according to Exodus 22:16-17 and Deuteronomy 22:28-29, Absolom wouldn’t have felt so free to plan his own revenge. Both sons of David sinned because of David’s lack of involvement as a parent. Furthermore, when Absolom was allowed to return to Jerusalem, David neglected to meet with Absolom to resolve the issue (2 Samuel 14:28).
What does a child need from their parents?
1. Love and emotional support
Every child wants nothing more than their parent’s love and affection. We are emotional beings. We need to feel loved and cared for. Saying and showing your love for your children can overcome almost any parenting mistakes you might make.
1 Peter 4:8 (NKJV)
“And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”
Besides, show emotional support whenever your children feel down or disappointed. Speak encouraging words that will uplift them as it will encourage their trust, respect, self-esteem, and independence.
2. Security and a sense of belonging
Kids must also feel safe and sound in any environment that they are being brought up in. This includes meeting their basic survival needs such as food, shelter, clothing, medical care, protection from danger, and so on.
Other than feeling safe and sound, they also need to have a sense of belonging. We can’t feel a sense of belonging when we don’t feel safe and sound. It’s important for a child to feel like they are a part of something, a part of a big family who loves and cares for them. This ultimately gives them stability as well.
It’s vital to give your children the best possible education so that they can do well in the future. This includes formal and informal education. In other words, it not only includes getting a good education in school but also includes invaluable life lessons you provide while spending time with them.
4. Healthy role models
Before a child learns to be independent and make their own decisions, they ought to have a healthy role model. And no one fits that role best than the parents. Parents are their children’s first and most important role models. Teach and show your children how to have good characters and attitudes. Be the person you want your children to grow up to be. We may not be aware sometimes but our children always watching and observing their parents.
5. Guidance and direction
Discipline and train your children. Guide them and give them direction on how to respond and behave in different situations. In a child’s life, having a structure is essential. They need to be taught about rules, boundaries, and limits. Without them, children are forced to be adults before they are ready, and eventually, they will lose respect for authority.
After setting up rules, boundaries, and limits, enforce them consistently. There are some families who believe in one parent being a ‘good cop,’ the other being a ‘bad cop.’ However, if there isn’t a synchronized parenting decision, the child quickly learns where the disagreement lies. So, stay consistent, especially with the important values that you want your child to adopt.
Final thoughts on uninvolved parenting
It is no doubt that uninvolved parenting is the worst parenting style that any parent should adopt. Children with uninvolved parents suffer the most. It has the most negative outcomes on children. An uninvolved parent is not simply a parent who gives their children more freedom and leaves them to their own devices. But it also means that they neglect their other important duties as parents as well.