Uninvolved Parenting – What is it? What are the signs?

It is agreed that there are four main parenting styles – Authoritative, Authoritarian, Permissive and Uninvolved (also known as Neglectful). There are some nuanced or more specific parenting types like helicopter parenting, but we generally can categorize into the four. The newest one to be categorized, though it certainly is not new having always been seen through all the generations, is uninvolved parenting.


Uninvolved parenting is sometimes referred to as neglectful parenting. It is when the parent is lacking a responsiveness to a child’s needs. What does this mean? It means that parents make almost no demands of their children and can be dismissive or indifferent. Sometimes they are fully neglectful.

This carries a number of negative connotations and is one that is easily judged.

It is controversial as a parenting style. But whether you’re an uninvolved parent or you know someone who is, it’s important to remember that this parenting style is not always intentional.

There might be moments where it comes across as being uninvolved. Perhaps it is stress, or being over tired. I know that there are times when I just need to get away from my girls for a while to recharge. I can frankly not care what they are doing as long as they are leaving me alone. I leave them snacks and drinks and suggest they get outside and play. They are not to bother me.

Maybe there is chronic sickness, depression, family issues. There are so many reasons why someone might fall into aspects of uninvolved parenting. But these are usually just moments and you might feel guilty. But you are truly not parenting in a neglectful way. It is when, as a parent, you are more preoccupied with yourself the majority of the time and there becomes a distance between you and your children.

man sitting on clock


1. Focus on your own problems

There is where the parent is so preoccupied with their own life that they make little time for the children.

Everything in their own life – work, social life, hobbies, etc. – come before the kids.

2. Lack of an emotional attachment

This is where there is a disconnect. There is often a lack of affection and nurturing. They will show no warmth or affection. This can be damaging to the children and is hard to repair.

3. Lack of interest in child’s activities

Uninvolved parents are not interested in their child’s school work, activities, or events. You will most likely not see them at sports games or school events. There will probably be a distinct lack of extracurricular activities provided for the children, unless it is to keep them away for extra time.

4. No set rules or expectations for behavior

Uninvolved parenting usually has no rules, boundaries or expectations for the children and their behavior. Uninvolved parents will usually not monitor or supervise their children.

It is really only if a child’s behavior affects the parent that there will be discipline or punishment. Want to just do what you want? Why not. Just don’t let it bother me.

There is often a lack of care as to school performance too.

I think one of the saddest things coming out of this style is that research shows that neglected children will grow up almost 3 times more likely to become neglectful to their own children, and twice as likely to be physically abusive.


Uninvolved parenting can affect children in the following ways:

  • lack of self-control
  • do not perform well in school
  • struggle with emotional control
  • lacking in social skills
  • low self-esteem
  • greater chance of depression

child running away

Uninvolved Parenting Is Not The Same As Free-Range Parenting

Free-range parenting describes parents who give children freedom to go to places such as the playground without adult supervision. It is not the same as uninvolved parenting.

I am definitely not a fully free-range parent, but I will allow my girls to play outside on their own, and to even ride their bikes around certain parts of the neighborhood without my supervision. But they know that they need to tell me where they are going and they know to be back when it’s getting dark. They also cannot go on their own, in that they must go together. I love seeing them have the freedom to explore. We are blessed that we live in a quiet and safe neighborhood.

So, what do you think of uninvolved parenting? I know we all have moments when we, by stress and default, need to be involved, but we don’t make it a habit or parenting style.

Want to refresh the other parenting styles?
Authoritative Parenting (also covers Authoritarian)
Permissive Parenting

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1 Comment

  • May 11, 2024 at 9:07 AM
    Enoch Ganie

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