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The Engaged Stepfather

In previous posts I talked about the following parenting styles:

This post will discuss the disengaged or uninvolved parenting style.  This parenting style is considered by experts to be the most damaging and harmful to children in the long-term.  Dr. Maryann Rosenthal, a clinical family psychologist and best selling author states this type of parent can “sow a lifetime of havoc by their indifference or inability to deal with their children.”

This style typically occurs in two different circumstances:

  • High income parents
    • Consumed with career and money
  • Single parents or financially struggling families
    • Working multiple jobs to make ends meet

In both instances, the long hours spent at work negatively affects family life.   

Characteristics of a Disengaged Parenting Style

  • Low levels of involvement and rapport
  • Parent becomes a stranger in their own home
  • Fails to provide structure and rules
  • Fails to show love or foster emotional connection
  • Lack of control, discipline, and monitoring of the stepchild’s behavior and activities 
    • Avoids confrontation and responsibility
    • Neglectful
      • Gives up parenting and leaves it up to institutions (schools, churches, etc.),  and other people in their child’s life to be the parents
        • Results in fragmented boundaries and love

Impacts of a Disengaged Parent Style on Children

  • Does not experience unconditional love from parents
  • High risk for emotional and behavioral problems
  • Academic difficulties
  • Low self-esteem and confidence
  • Most likely smoking and alcohol or substance abuse
  • Do what they wantPossibly depressed and may harbor suicidal thoughts
    • No imposed external or internal boundaries
  • Strong need to form attachments
    • May not be discriminating with friends; hang out with the wrong crowd

The experts state stepfathers, unlike their biological counterparts, commonly adopt a disengaged parenting style.  The reasons why stepdads choose to be uninvolved may vary from family to family from they’re not your kids to their mother protecting her children from your parenting style.  As you’ve read about the impacts this parenting style has on children the stakes are too high to remain disengaged.  Don’t allow yourself to remain disengaged and make them victims of your parenting style.  Just because they don’t say it doesn’t mean your stepchildren don’t need you, get whatever help you need to get back involved.  Get a copy of Dr. Rosenthal’s book Be a Parent, Not a Pushover by clicking here.

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