YOU may be an adult witnessing younger people caring for their children, and you notice that something is not right. The children seem happy, clean, fed, and managing, but still, something niggles you. Could it be the parenting style? Some younger parents don’t even realise they have a parenting style. And although it is not their intention, if they are uninvolved parents, they could cause damage to their child’s development.
Uninvolved parents do not expect much from their children, so they do not set standards or offer them much support or put limits on their behaviour. The children grow without benefitting from quality time, shows of appreciation or affection, encouragement or an emotional connection with parents. Failing to connect emotionally can impact children negatively and cause problems when they are older, such as anger and hostility, depression, trouble managing emotions and difficulty forming bonds in adult relationships.
Uninvolved parents are preoccupied with their lifestyles, interests or distractions, and their children fend for themselves – for the most part. Uninvolved parents supply food, clothes and shelter, usually with no problem. But where guidance, nurturing, a sense of direction, and morals are concerned, the children are on their own.
Children are vulnerable in these households due to poor supervision. Socially, they are inclined to follow their peers rather than lead. They can become involved in a host of unfortunate or delinquent behaviours such as petty crime and early sexual exploration. Older people and peers can exploit and abuse them without their parents knowing or noticing that their child may have a problem.
There have been cases of incest under the same roof as uninvolved parents, and it can be a sad and confusing time for the children when it comes to light. Of course, they will feel guilty and blame themselves, but the fact they were never monitored, spoken to, given guidance or paid quality attention was fertile ground for experimentation. Some pregnant girls from uninvolved families have entered their second trimester of pregnancy without parents noticing they were pregnant. A few of them even went into labour before their parents found out.
Lately, one international story told of a 12-year-old girl rushed to hospital with stomach pains – only to find out that she was in labour. She subsequently safely gave birth to her baby. The baby’s father, her 14-year-old brother, did not coerce or force his sister to have sexual intercourse. Instead, her brother gave an account of long unsupervised days where the two played games to pass the time – one of which was wrestling. What started as an innocent game of wrestling ended up as sexual intercourse.
The brother was placed on the sex offenders list for ten years, and all three children are now in foster care (with different foster parents) and receiving counselling. Although their negligence brought about the events, the story did not indicate whether the parents would face prosecution for child neglect,
For the rest of their lives, these children will live with the fact that they were sexually involved and produced a child. Maybe they should have known better, but did anyone bother to instruct or explain the ‘better’ they should know to the children?
A 15-year-old mother from an affluent family, when asked how she managed to conceal her pregnancy from her parents, replied, “When they were home, I made sure I was sitting at the table or snuggled up on the sofa. Our paths hardly crossed anyway, so it wasn’t difficult. They barely looked me in the face, much less notice my physique”.
Uninvolved parents are ignorant of how little children perceive and understand morals, values, right and wrong. They act surprised or taken aback if and when their child does something reprehensible. They may want to beat and punish the child to save face or due to their shame. But children live what they learn, and if they don’t have adequate guidance and a sense of discipline and boundaries are not enforced, their moral compass will sadly require direction.
Uninvolved parents may have a secure home where their children are safe and well provided for, but the children are disadvantaged without parents’ social and emotional support. Here are some examples of uninvolved parenting: When parents frequently leave their child with other people; When they fail to engage with their child in reading, playing, or spending quality time. When parents rarely listen to their children and distract them with a tablet or video games.
They are disinterested in their child’s goals or accomplishments and fail to praise and encourage the same. When parents do not set bedtimes or curfews. When parents don’t know their children’s friends or in whose house their children hang out. When they think more about themselves and their problems, they never acknowledge that their children (especially teens) may be stressed and have problems too.
In conclusion, uninvolved parenting is not practical; it lacks elements that unite families and create lasting bonds. Good advice, positive messages, ethics, standards and principles are what children need to learn from loving, affectionate, approachable and committed parents. If you know an uninvolved parent, don’t be afraid to offer some positive advice. Choose your words and wait for a suitable time to explain. Or you can simply show them this article.
If you are concerned about the welfare of a child, call the CPA hotline on 227 0979 or write to us at email@example.com
A MESSAGE FROM THE CHILDCARE AND PROTECTION AGENCY,
MINISTRY OF HUMAN SERVICES AND SOCIAL SECURITY