RUNNING ON EMPTY – THE NEGLECTED CHILD
Parenting has always been a learn as you go business. It would be helpful to have had a child around prior to parenthood, to practice on, however until you understand your parenting style you are basically working blind on the way you influence your children to eventually develop into adults. While we tend to practice aspects of all parenting styles, there is a tendency to predominate in one. And this usually is the one you were raised with. This write up is one of a series of five and takes a glance at the Neglectful Parenting style.
Painting the Picture
When you hear the term “Neglectful” a picture is automatically raised of an abused child who is running around not being fed properly and neglected, but the reality is in today’s world neglectful parents can also simply be the ones who are too busy to deal with their children, or are the parents who are too busy on their cell phones to look up and spend the time to smell the roses with their child. These parents are often the ones that are often overextended, uninvolved, indifferent, or otherwise unavailable. They do care about their children but may not have the opportunities or resources to focus on their child. Many single parents who work, for instance, struggle to find a balance between work and home and the time and energy to devote to their teens. There are also those parents who may also have an elderly parent, or disabled child or other family member to care for. Another scenario is the parent who might have an illness or disorder that may significantly affect the way they parent.
Where parents find themselves the remnants of authoritarian parenting, there can be a tendency to be task orientated rather than orientated towards relationship building. They see their responsibilities as providing structure, financial support and meals. Their way of expressing their love for their child is through working long and hard to provide for their family. Their children get excluded from the family decision making, because all this is done by the parent. These parents also tend to have high expectations for their child to behave in a mature way and an expectation that teens should monitor their own behaviour.
The most common reaction by teenagers to neglectful parents will be attention seeking. Attention seeking in the form of drugs, dressing outrageously, running away, inconsistent grades – when a parent has fears or dreads over something, this is where the teenager will radiate to. For example, if the parent is hot about not having tattoos or body piercings…. Guaranteed that is what the teenager will get. Like a duck to water they will be drawn to other attention seeking teenagers whose tattoos and piercings will validate the necessity why they should have them. Emotional outbursts or disrespect are also common attention seeking behaviour.
Alternative living arrangements
Teenagers quickly learn to turn to other teens and adults when the attention and support is not forthcoming from their homes. They learn to create their own family and sense of self by either leaving home early, teen pregnancies or gang affiliation. Teenage girls may be prone to sexual promiscuity seeking the attention they are not getting from home.
The children of Neglectful parents also tend to suffer from low self-esteem, insecurity, loneliness, and impulsiveness. They generally will have poor decision-making skills, have difficulty with follow through, lack self confidence and also become easily frustrated. As adults they will tend to be insecure and needy. The parents may recognise they have a highly intelligent child, however their expectations are not met because the child is scattered in his approach, not having a solid board/support to bounce off from.
If a teenager cannot learn how to handle their emotions, they will carry lifelong consequences with them. Anger is a difficult emotion to learn to handle and express. The neglected teen will express their anger by becoming uncooperative, disrespectful, and argumentative, generally to the point where the parent can quote verbatim what they are about to say… It becomes wearisome and stressful to all, not changing until a break is made.
There are two apposing ends of the spectrum that can occur here for these children.
They can become workaholics like their parent workaholic, who appear responsible, achievement oriented and able to take charge. On theinsidethough they feel like failures who have overly excessive standards of perfection which can make them prone to anxiety and depression. Their high standards of perfection prevents them from receiving support or treatment.
On the other end they may bring certain work ethics that are found to be undesirable, such as difficulty working with others, have difficulty following through on projects, lack appropriate respect for authority. Punctuality and poor time managementalso tend to be trouble spots.
Turning the Tide
Most teens in this parenting style come from parents who had difficult life situations. Parents often feel guilty about their lack of attention but tend to be more preoccupied with their work, which they find more satisfying, than to expend the energy on their teen.
The situation can be altered though by making an effort to change things around, such as planning weekly meals together. These children also need more nurturing, but sometimes this means achieving that in small steps because they are not going to welcome the intimacy of a hug if they are not used to receiving one. It is also important to interact with the child at their emotional age. Be consistent, predictable, and repetitive because even sleepovers can seem overwhelming to some. Model appropriate social behaviours, but most of all listen to and talk with your child. When you are quite and are interactive, they will start to open up.
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