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What is Neglectful Parenting?

By Emma Davies


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No matter what different cultures think about parenting, it’s pretty easy to define neglectful parenting. This is when a parent has very little interest if any in their child and doesn’t even meet their simplest needs. People always forget how much our childhoods shape us and that the way our parents treat us has a big impact.

What is Neglectful Parenting?

Many different parenting styles can be neglectful so you might be more familiar with the term ‘uninvolved parenting’. This is a form of neglectful parenting and comes about as parents have little to no involvement in their child’s life. Parenting certainly isn’t easy and we all mess up sometimes so let’s take a closer look at what a neglectful parenting style is.

Examples of Neglectful Parenting

Every family is different which means everyone is going to parent differently which is something you will learn to accept as you grow with your children. Now this does not mean that neglectful parenting should be allowed just because that’s how someone chooses to parent. There are definitely certain things that are considered bad parenting no matter who you are.

  • Shows no affection – Our parents are supposed to be the people that are there with us through everything which is why it has such a big impact when they aren’t. Neglectful parents often show no affection or love for their children and basically let them parent themselves. This includes not giving your child praise when they accomplish something but also not spending quality time doing the things they love.
  • No rules or boundaries – A super important thing that children need is structure because it’s the perfect way for them to learn what they can and can’t do. A neglectful parenting style won’t include any sort of rules or consequences and that’s for both good and bad behavior. This gives kids a false sense of how the world works as they aren’t used to following rules which can be extremely negative in the long run.
  • No interest in your child’s life – It’s really important for parents to show interest in their kids’ life so that they feel wanted and loved. This includes their hobbies, interests, and education and helping them when you can. When a parent shows this little interest in their child’s life it can have devastating effects on them in later life.

These are some of the most common signs seen in neglectful parents and what they put their children through. Not being overly affectionate or praising your child for every single thing they do does not make you an emotionally neglectful parents but when this behavior can put your child’s development at risk then you need to start rethinking some things.

Signs of Neglectful Parenting

The definition of neglectful parenting is very broad as there are so many behaviors that come under it. The things we’ve listed above are some of the most common things you might notice but neglectful parenting can go a lot further than this. So, what else can be considered neglectful?

  • Showing no affection to your child
  • Not meeting your child’s basic needs
  • Not providing emotional support
  • Not setting rules or boundaries that provide structure
  • No interest in your child’s schooling
  • Not spending quality time
  • Providing no guidance
  • No consequences for behavior
  • Being cold and distant
  • Not interfering or offering advice to your child

Effects of Neglectful Parenting

Have you ever wondered why therapists ask so much about your childhood? It’s because your childhood has one of the biggest effects on your adulthood whether you remember it or not and these interactions will be with you forever.

We’re all allowed to mess up every now and then but you can’t let this affect your child but how exactly does it affect them?

  • Low self esteem, confidence and self worth – The things people say and do to us will always be in the back of our brain and unfortunately, this is especially true for the negative things. A parent showing no interest in their child will lead to the child believing they are worthless and unloved as they’ve never had someone who’s there for them through everything. Kids might also have trouble making decisions because they lack confidence. This is because they haven’t had someone to tell them whats right and wrong.
  • Poor academic performance – If parents aren’t bothered about meeting basic needs like food then you can also assume there aren’t many expectations for the child to attend school or complete homework. This affects a child’s life so much as they aren’t getting the correct education but they also aren’t getting all the other benefits of school like learning how to make friends and work with others. This can make life very difficult both socially and professionally as they will be behind from the get go.
  • Mental health issues – Y Leaving children to fend for themselves can increase the chances of them suffering from mental health issues later in life. From eating disorders to depression and anxiety. The lack of socializing that would usually come from school also increases the chances of these mental illnesses.
  • Behavioral problems – Children need attention and if they aren’t getting it at home then they’ll find somewhere else to get it. This can lead to being disruptive in class or starting fights just so they get a little attention. Behavioral problems then lead again to bad academic performance because children are being pulled out of class as punishment.

This type of parenting can affect you and your child’s life in such a range of ways that you may not even realize the impact it is having. If you think you might be using a neglectful parenting style then this is the harm you’re causing your child and this will stick with them through their entire lives.

How to be a Better Parent

If you have recognized any of these parenting techniques then it’s time to change. Save your child the struggle of all the affects we listed above and take accountability. Everyone parents differently but some people are simply bad parents which is why change needs to happen.

There are a few easy ways that you can get your parenting back on track and start to build a bond with your child.

  • Spend more time with your child
  • Take interest in their interests
  • Provide the discipline they need
  • Take interest in their education
  • Have rules and boundaries in place
  • Seek professional help yourself if you are trying to break the cycle
  • Show your child the love they deserve
  • Offer advice when it’s needed
  • Have expectations that show you care

Am I a Neglectful Parent

The first thing to remember is parenting isn’t black and white. It’s okay not to be perfect and get things wrong from time to time. One thing parents forget is that we are all human and are going to mess up at times.

Most parents don’t even consider they’re in the wrong and that they might be the reason their little one is acting up. It’s very likely that your child is stressed or a need isn’t being met if they are acting up, remember that they have the same size emotions as us in a much smaller body. So if you’re even considering that your parenting might be the problem then you’ve come a lot further than most.

Neglectful parenting is certainly not the right style that anyone should be using. But there is no one style fits all so keep working on your parenting and it will soon all start coming together.

About Emma Davies

Emma Davies is a freelance writer that specializes parenting and animal topics. With over 20 years experience as a parent there are very few topics that faze her.

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