Neglectful Parenting Style: Comprehensive Explanation

Parents are rarely alike. That being said, it doesn’t mean that there are no similarities at all. In fact, there are enough similarities that parenting styles can be put into groups. The most common parenting styles are authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, and neglectful. Here, we will give you an in-depth explanation of the neglectful parenting style.

Parenting Styles in Brief

There are four major parenting styles. Back in the 1960s, Diana Baumrind, a well-known developmental psychologist, described three parenting styles.

These parenting styles are authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive. The fourth one, neglectful parenting or uninvolved parenting, is a recent addition.

It was added by other researchers in later years. Although it is the latest addition, it doesn’t mean the parenting style is something new.

Baumrind based the parenting styles on two dimensions: the responsiveness and demandingness of the parents. Responsiveness here is how responsive the parents are to their children’s needs while demandingness is how demanding the parents are of their children.

The neglectful parenting style is low in both dimensions. It is less responsive and demanding compared to other parenting styles.

Neglectful Parenting Style Definition

So, what exactly is it? What it is not? Put it simply, it is a parenting style where the parents don’t respond and attend to the needs of their children beyond the basics like food, clothing, and shelter.

Different from the helicopter parenting style, neglectful parents usually don’t provide guidance, discipline, and nurture to their children.

As their children don’t receive guidance, discipline, and nurture, all of which are necessary for children’s healthy development, they are left to raise themselves.

They have to make decisions, both big and small, on their own. Neglectful parents don’t respond well to their children’s needs. They provide little affection, love, or support.

This is why the neglectful parenting style is low in responsiveness. These parents also don’t offer guidance, set rules, or expectations for their children’s behavior. The demands they have of their children are few.

This parenting style is without a doubt controversial. As such, it is easy for people to pass judgment on these parents.

However, you should know that whether you know someone who is a neglectful parent or you are one yourself, understand that this parenting style is not always intentional. Parents are hardly neglecting their children by choice.

We will tell you more about this in a later section. That’s what it is. So the next question is, what it is not? Parenting can be stressful and tiring. When you are stressed and tired, you might brush off your child and have a moment of solitude.

You might feel guilty because of this but this is not neglectful parenting. This parenting style is an ongoing pattern, not just moments.

Characteristics of Neglectful Parenting Style

Like other types of parenting, uninvolved parenting also has common characteristics. No, brushing off your child for a brief moment to have your time alone is not one.

Uninvolved parenting is not a single moment of neglecting the child. It is an ongoing pattern, not just a moment. Below are some characteristics of neglectful parenting style.

Lack of emotional connection between parent and child

For many people, the emotional connection between parent and child comes naturally. For neglectful parents, things are different. This connection is neither automatic nor instinctual.

In fact, the parent may even feel a sense of disconnection from their child. This, in turn, severely limits the nurturing and affection they provide to their child.

Lack of interest in the child’s activities

The lack of affection on the parent’s part makes them uninterested in their child’s activities. Be it daily activities, school work, or events. As they are not interested, they might not show up for PTA meetings or skip their child’s sports games.

Lack of discipline

Neglectful parenting style is similar to permissive parenting in disciplining children. Usually, neglectful parents don’t have any disciplinary style.

Some even go as far as not giving any correction to their children unless what the children’s behavior affects them. Neglectful parents might not even get upset when their children don’t do well in school.

Neglectful parents focus on their own problems and desires

Whether it is their social life, work, interests, or other problems, neglectful parents are busy with their own affairs.

They are focused so much they are unresponsive and don’t attend to their children’s needs. Neglectful parents make little time for their children.

For neglectful parents, everything else comes before their children. In some cases, neglectful parents might go as far as outright neglecting or rejecting their children.

Keep in mind that the neglect or rejection here does not happen for a moment. It is an ongoing pattern.

Neglectful Parenting Examples

Neglectful parenting comes in different forms, depending on the child’s age.


Some parents will take every opportunity they have to offer and affection and nurture their infant children. Uninvolved parents, on the other hand, may feel detached or disengaged from their baby.

This includes not interested in holding, playing with, and feeding the baby. When these parents are given the opportunity, they might give their baby to someone else like their partner or a grandparent.

It is important to note that initial detachment is not always a sign of being a neglectful parent. Postpartum depression can cause this initial detachment as well. If you have postpartum depression, you should seek professional help to treat this condition

Young child

A young child loves to create artwork and talk excitedly about how their day goes. Caring parents will be interested in and appreciate their children’s artwork. They will also listen to their children.

Neglectful parents, however, will show little interest. These parents may even ignore their child then they talk about their day.

Neglectful parents may fail in creating reasonable limits for their children. For example, their children’s bedtimes.

As a comparison, authoritative parents both encourage their children and listen to them while at the same time sets limits for them. Neglectful parents do neither.

Older child

When dealing with an older child, a neglectful parent may not react or care when their child brings a bad report card home or skips school.

They are unlikely to impose any consequences when their child steps out of line. This is in contrast with authoritarian parents who are strict and impose consequences if a child steps out of line.

Neglectful Parenting Style Effects

Children raising need attention, love, and encouragement to thrive. This style of parenting offers very little of these. This is why neglectful parenting style can have severe negative effects on a child.

There are some positive effects. For example, the child learns how to take care of their basic needs early and learn self-reliance. However, the negative effects far outweigh the good.

Below are some of the negative effects of this parenting style.

Fear of dependence

Children of neglectful parents learn very early in their life that they have to provide for themselves. They might develop a fear of dependence.

After all, their parents, which they should be able to depend on, are undependable and don’t respond to their needs. This fear of becoming dependent can be a huge obstacle for their future relationships.

Feeling unloved

neglectful parenting style on kids and teens

As neglectful parents don’t respond to their child’s emotional needs, their children might feel unattended and unimportant. They might feel unloved, which severely impacts their self-worth and their future relationships.

Lack of social skills

Children learn social behavior around them. Children of neglectful parents are often neglected at home. They might see this as acceptable social behavior, thus ignoring others in return.

This lack of proper social interaction could make these children develop antisocial behavior, withdraw socially, and even become socially anxious. Adverse effects like this are also found in authoritarian parenting style.

Victims of bullying

Parents have a crucial role in preventing bullying among children. Parents are the ones who tell and guide children when they are being bullied and violated.

Neglectful parenting style, however, could make children the victims of bullying. This is because neglectful parents are not involved in the children’s lives and are unable to guide them.

Poor academic performance

Neglectful parents don’t have expectations from their children. They have little to no interest in their child’s life, including how they perform academically.

As a result, the child may exhibit low achievement motivation and little to no interest in academics. Thus, resulting in poor academic performance.

Why Do Some Parents Adopt Neglectful Parenting Style?

There are several reasons why. Parents who exhibit neglectful parenting style were often themselves raised by neglectful parents. As parents, they may repeat the same patterns their parents raise them with.

There are also other parents who exhibit this parenting style because they have busy lives and find it a lot easier to use a hands-off approach when it comes to raising children.

In some other cases, these parents are too busy dealing with their own problems. For example, problems like coping with depression, being overworked, or struggling with substance abuse.

They either unable to respond and attend to the emotional support their children need or fail to see how uninvolved they are as parents.

Signs of Neglectful Parenting

If you find some of the signs below, it is possible that you are a neglectful parent:

  • You are not aware of what is going on in your child’s life, both personally and academically.
  • not able to provide a safe space where your child can freely share and express their feelings and get feedback in return.
  • You don’t spend time with your child, leaving them alone at home for long periods of time.
  • You are not aware of your child’s friends, teachers, as well as other people your child spends most of their time with.

5 Tips to Recover from Neglectful Parenting

After an honest assessment, you might even think you are a neglectful parent. What should you do about the situation?

Can you get out of neglectful parenting and make a meaningful relationship with your child? Of course, you can. Here are our tips to help you come out of this parenting style.

Create non-negotiable positive routines

A predictable, positive routine is an important component of positive parenting. Such a routine brings you and your child closer. What kind of routines you should do? Here are some examples:

  • Hug your child every time you drop them off at school
  • Pick a weeknight in which you and your child prepare a meal together
  • Read a bedtime story
  • Share your favorite thing that happens during the day

Listen, listen, and listen

When your child is talking, listen actively. Accept what they share for what they are. Listen, listen, and listen. Don’t judge. Remember, your child is at a different life stage than you are.

You may hear your child sharing about a problem they face and tempted to figure it out for them. Don’t do that. Instead, be there and give your support. Help them figure it out by themselves.     

Create meaningful memories

This creates a deeper connection between parent and child. You can create meaningful memories by doing something that your child enjoys or better yet, doing something that both of you enjoy.

You can also do things that both of you have never done before. Learn something new and have fun together. Create new, meaningful memories with your child.

Improve your emotional intelligence

You need to know how to regulate your own emotions before you can support someone else’s. Yes, that includes your child as well. So, the best way to go is to improve your emotional intelligence.

The more emotionally intelligent you are, the more capable you will be to support your child’s emotions, both positive and negative.

Express your love

People express their love differently. When you express your love to your child, use their love language. This way, your child will feel appreciated, heard, and understood.


In short, This is a parenting style where the parents don’t attend their children’s needs beyond the basics like food, clothing, and shelter. Although the degree of neglect varies between one parent to another, there is always a lack of guidance, discipline, and nurture in their parenting.

If after an honest assessment you think you apply neglectful parenting style, you can gradually take little steps to overcome it. Remember, your acknowledgment is already a huge step towards a better parent-child relationship. This process will take time. So, be patient. Seek professional help if you need it.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

Leave a Comment