Uninvolved Parenting describes parents who provide only the very basic needs for their kids. Learn why some of us use this parenting style and what can be done to change it!
When I was in the throws of postpartum depression after having my third kid, I found myself struggling to cope with the demands of motherhood. It was a dark time in my life where I was struggling with who I was and finding the joy of motherhood. I didn’t understand why I felt like this when every other mom seemed to be loving it.
During this time of depression for me, I found myself pulling further and further away from my kids. Their basic needs were being met, but to go above and beyond was a struggle. Every time they said “Mom!” I wanted to break down in tears. They spent hours in front of the TV while I sat and nursed a baby that seemed to want to eat all the time.
I share this because I was what one would call an uninvolved parent. It can be easy to pass judgment on parents who fit into the category of uninvolved parents. But we should understand that these parents are probably doing the best they know how to do at the moment.
What is Uninvolved Parenting?
Uninvolved parenting is one of the four main parenting styles (the others are authoritative parenting, authoritarian parenting, and permissive parenting). Parents who practice this parenting style have a tendency to provide very little for their kids besides the very basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter.
Discipline and nurturing are usually lacking for children of uninvolved parents. In some cases, this parenting style may be due to a parent’s disinterest with their kids. But in MOST cases, uninvolved parents are struggling with something far beyond simple disinterest.
We all have moments of needing to be “uninvolved” in our kids’ lives. I’m sure you have had moments when you feel exhausted and overwhelmed and your 3-year-old asks you to read them, Goodnight Moon, for the thousandth time. You may have found yourself brushing off your kids so you can have one moment of peace.
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Key points of Uninvolved Parenting
Uninvolved parenting involves more than occasionally brushing off our kids at a brief stage in your life. To be classified as an uninvolved parent, it requires emotional distance and detachment between the parent and the kids to be an ongoing thing.
- Uninvolved parents have a tendency to focus on their own problems and their own desires above those of their kids. They are distracted by the weight of their own lives to the point that they become unresponsive to their kids. They may see their kids as a burden, instead of seeing them as functioning members of the family.
- Parents who practice uninvolved parenting (whether intentionally or unintentionally) may struggle with a lack of emotional attachment to their kids. Most moms experience a fairly quick bond with their newborn babies, but that is not always the case. For uninvolved parents, the bond may not have come and their parenting skills may not feel instinctual.
- Uninvolved parents often show a lack of interest in the activities that their kids are doing. These parents may skip sports games or recitals and are usually not involved in their kid’s schoolwork.
- Uninvolved parents don’t usually have a discipline style. If they are aware of their kids doing poorly at school, they likely don’t do anything to help change that.
Pros of Uninvolved Parenting
Although Uninvolved parents gett a bad wrap, there are some positive points to this parenting style.
- Uninvolved parenting tends to produce kids who are capable of taking care of themselves from an early age.
- Kids of uninvolved parents may experience less homesickness when they are away from home than kids of parents with other parenting styles.
Even so, the downsides to this parenting style outweigh the positives significantly.
Cons of Uninvolved Parenting
All kids have a need for love and attention. Parents who show high levels of warmth and have high expectations for their kids produce kids who are capable and confident. But what happens when you combine low levels of warmth AND low expectations?
- Kids of uninvolved parents don’t establish an emotional connection with their parents. In cases where only one parent is uninvolved, they will likely form a connection with the other parent. The lack of emotional connection creates problems as the kid grows up and struggles to form meaningful relationships with others.
- Because kids of uninvolved parents don’t get shown much affection or attention, they are likely to grow up with low self-esteem. The need to be loved may be so strong that they may become extremely clingy in other relationships.
- Social skills may be lacking for kids whose parent(s) is uninvolved. Because these parents communicate very little with their kids, they may find it difficult to communicate with peers and other people.
- Uninvolved parenting leads to kids who are unable to cope with many of the emotional challenges they face in life. When faced with obstacles, kids of uninvolved parents are unlikely to be able to express their emotions in a healthy way.
What Uninvolved Parenting Looks Like In Action
Uninvolved parenting looks different for every age. There may be stages where you have experienced being an uninvolved parent, but now you are more involved. Or perhaps your current circumstances have led you to be uninvolved now, even though you used to be more involved previously. Either way, here are some examples of what uninvolved parenting looks like.
- When an infant is involved, uninvolved parents may find themselves detached from their new baby. They may show little interest in the baby and may even refuse to hold the baby except when necessary. (Many moms who experience postpartum depression may have experienced this!)
- As kids get older, their parents may show a lack of interest in their newfound motor skills including art they may create. Uninvolved parents may also find themselves exhausted with the constant chatter from their kids.
- When kids of uninvolved parents are older, their parents may not care much about grades or behavior. They likely will not discipline their kids (and if they do, it will not be consistent).
How To Change Your Parenting Style
Do you see aspects of uninvolved parenting in your style? There are many reasons why a parent may implement this parenting style and there is always hope! Here are some things you can do that can help you establish a more effective parenting style that will be better for you and for your kids!
- Recognize the underlying problem. Do you struggle with mental or emotional health issues? Do you feel your parents were uninvolved, so you just don’t know how to be involved in your kids’ lives? Each of these (as well as countless others) are reasons why a parent may become uninvolved. Identifying the reasons behind the parenting style is half the battle in learning a new style!
- Seek out professional help. Whether you are able to identify the underlying problem or not, it is never a bad idea to seek professional help. Doctors can treat things like depression (including postpartum depression) and meeting with a licensed counselor can be a great asset for helping you overcome whatever struggles you have.
- Be patient with yourself. Changing your parenting style is not always easy. In fact, it is usually really hard. But as you work on your own health and are patient with yourself, you’ll likely find that a lot of great parenting practices will come more naturally for you.
Have you ever been an uninvolved parent? Tell us about it in the comments below!