Lack of parenting is said to occur when parents, after providing for their child’s basic needs (food, shelter, clothing), neglect or seem unconcerned about providing for the child’s usual desires and other emotional and non-essential needs. Lack of parenting is also referred to as uninvolved parenting or neglectful parenting – and it can lead to divorce.
Lack of parenting can be intentional or unintentional. Some parents intentionally ignore the child beyond his/her basic needs because they want the child to learn to adapt to the lifestyle he is born into, or they want the child to learn to be on his/her own, while some other parents are so engrossed in their own professional and social lives that they have no time to pay heed to the child’s wishes and non-essential needs. This is a controversial style of parenting that is usually perceived as cruel in social circles.
When the parents are not deeply involved in bringing up their children and feel no duty towards them beyond fulfilling their basic needs, the children are likely to be deprived of the values and discipline they usually pick up from the parents and also lack a proper direction in life.
Signs Of Lack Of Parenting
- An uninvolved parent is so focused on his/her life (work, social, problems) that he/she does not respond to the desires of the child. Children come last for some uninvolved parents. This parent may make time for the child, but it is likely to be insufficient – in rare cases, some parents may even completely neglect their children and probably leave them in the hands of caretakers.
- Such parents are likely to be uninterested in their child’s extracurricular activities and school work.
- Such parents may not be automatically affectionate towards or emotionally attached to the child, as in the case of regular families. The parents may act disconnected, making the child feel neglected. Such neglected children can develop low self-esteem as they may think that they are being ignored because they are undesirable or lack the qualities that parents usually desire.
- Uninvolved parents may not lay down behavior rules or have any expectations from their children. If a child commits a wrong and the wrong is not disapproved by the parents, who are not the least interested in guiding their child, then the child may feel that his/her wrong is the right thing to do, and continue doing it.
- Neglected children may develop a negative attitude when they reach adulthood. It is common knowledge that children need to be nurtured, loved, and cared for in their formative years. If children are left to themselves, they may resent their parents and the world around them and grow up with a negative and biased attitude. They also may be perennially stressed, anxious, and with insignificant social and coping skills.
- Such children may learn to be self-reliant due to compelling circumstances, but what good is self-reliance if things aren’t done right?
- Worse still, the child may grow up and become an uninvolved parent.
Lack Of Parenting and Divorce
If one parent is not involved in bringing up the child, the other parent is likely to resent it (unless the other parent too is uninvolved). Things can reach a flashpoint, which could even lead to divorce.
When it comes to bringing up children, the courts believe that the child should receive the love and care of both parents. So, when one parent is neglectful to the child, it legally implies that he/she is not acting in the best interests of the child. If the other parent files for divorce, the neglectful parent’s child custody case can get severely compromised, and he/she will be on the hook for alimony and child support too. Also, if the other parent can prove fault (neglect), he/she may be awarded a higher share in the alimony, child support, and property. Therefore, when lack of parenting is brought to the court’s notice in a divorce petition, the at-fault parent can end up paying a high price.