Are You an Uninvolved Parent?

So far, we’ve discussed two parenting styles, the authoritarian parent and the permissive. Think of authoritarian as a dictatorship. Plenty of rules with little display of love or reasons for the given rules. Permissive parents overly adore their children, allowing too much leeway and setting few boundaries.

The Uninvolved Parent

As with all parenting styles, the uninvolved parent has a range of behaviors. The primary behaviors are self-explanatory. The parent tends to be uninvolved in their child’s life. Showing little love, setting few boundaries, and little discipline.

parentSometimes an uninvolved parent’s life is too busy, at least from their perspective. Maybe their job is too much to handle, they just can’t find time to spend with their children, or often times they have drug or alcohol abuse issues of their own.

Two common reasons parents use this style are because they were brought up this way themselves, or they are too busy dealing with their own problems to adequately care for their own children.

If the parents were brought up in an uninvolved environment, they may lack the skills needed for other parenting styles. If they were never taught, then unless they go out of their way to learn other techniques, they will continue the cycle with their own children.

If an uninvolved parent doesn’t set boundaries for their child, the child will never learn to set their own boundaries. They don’t learn the social repercussions for participating in negative behaviors. The child of an uninvolved parent has a higher likelihood to have drug or alcohol abuse problems later in life. They are more likely to participate in dangerous behaviors like breaking the law or having multiple sexual partners without protection. Having an uninvolved parent increases the likelihood of these things happening. It’s not a guarantee.

An uninvolved parent may believe they are teaching children to fend for themselves. In a way, this may be true. They teach them to live only for themselves, just to survive, but never really teaching them to live.

The children might never learn to truly provide for themselves. They don’t learn about reward systems for hard work. If they feel the pride of accomplishment, they might try to share it with their parent only to be turned away, or be told to leave the parent alone.

There are always occasions in a parent’s life when they can’t give a child the attention they parentprefer. This is acceptable because when they do have time, the child will learn this is only temporary, that their parent still loves them and is just busy. Even giving the child a hug and explaining why you’re too busy can work wonders. They key is the quality of time, not necessarily the quantity.

Having another parent, a loved one, or family member in the home can help in this situation. During those times when one parent is too busy, the other can be a healthy balance.

Are you an uninvolved parent? Do you have a loved one in your home to help balance the lack of attention? Are you a busy parent struggling to find time to spend with your child? Are you willing to share your own techniques you’ve learned to combat these problems?

Stay tuned for the final parenting technique, authoritative parenting, often considered the most balanced style.

Below are links to psychological studies about the effects of uninvolved and other parenting styles.

Codependency and Parenting Styles in the Journal of Adolescent Research

Exploring the Effects of Adolescent Perceptions of Parenting in Free Time and Gender on Adolescent Motivation in Free Time

Associations Between Parenting Styles and Teen Driving, Safety-Related Behaviors and Attitude in The Official Journal of The American Academy of Pediatrics

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Are You an Uninvolved Parent? — 9 Comments

  1. Sometimes I think I am an uninvolved parent, not really like the article describes though. I have 3 kids, 7,4, and 6 weeks. By the time my oldest is home from school, I just want to shut myself in my room and play on the computer or sleep. I’m also home with them alone 95% of the time, husband works 2 jobs. My oldest is a special needs child,lots of going to therapy, its very draining, between her and the newborn, I really don’t feel like doing much more than cooking dinner and turning on the tv. On good days, I try to do things with them all. Maybe its not really being uninvolved, maybe its just trying to survive.

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  3. This bugs me something terrible. Between my husband's coaching youth football and my teaching a large middle school sunday school class, I see a bunch of kids who come from these types of homes. It breaks my heart every time. These kids are usually easy to spot. They are hungry for attention, for validation, and for love. Sometimes they are really naughty and sometimes they are introverts. It seems like these types of kids either turn out to be bullies or victims of bullies, depending on their personalities. Dealing with these kids over the years, I have also found that sometimes all it takes is one positive adult in their life to make a difference. BE A MENTOR!

    • Great comment, Jessie! Thank you. You have it right on about how many of them turn out too. It really is amazing how one person could affect a child so much, but this is a perfect situation for it to happen. This would be a good lesson for a child to learn as well. Just because another child is angry or mean doesn’t mean they should treat them the same. I’m not saying they should be a push over, but, as you said, being kind to the child could help them realize what they are missing.

      Being a child psychologist was one of my first goals soon after beginning college. But for the very reasons you stated in your comment, I forced myself out of it. I would find it very hard to spend day in and day out with these children without being able to do more. Although it sounds like you’ve put yourself in a situation to do just that. :) Depending on how my writing career goes (I’m crossing my fingers right now), I may end up earning my masters and going into family and marriage counceling. I figure if I can’t help the children, maybe I can help the parents help the children. Lofty goals, I know. :)

  4. Quality not quantity is definitely the key. I know a woman who is a very busy lawyer running her own practice. She also shares her kids with her ex-husband. She doesn't see them as much as she might like but when she does see them, she really makes that count. She has one of the best relationships with her kids that I've seen.

    • People like your lawyer friend just make me jealous! Considering the work that goes into becoming a lawyer, I can imagine they have great time management skills. It sounds like she really takes advantage of the time she has. What a great story. This is a perfect example of, “If she can do it, so can you.” Being separated and having a career as a lawyer would be crazy. Thanks for the comment, Ciara. :)

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