Hostile-Aggressive Parenting – What is it?
Hostile-Aggressive Parenting (HAP) is defined as: A general pattern of
behavior, actions or decision-making of a parent or guardian
that either directly or indirectly;
1) creates undue
difficulties or interferences in the relationship of a child with another parent or guardian involved with the parenting
and/or rearing of the child and/or,
2) promotes or
maintains an unwarranted unfairness or inequality in the parenting arrangements between a child's parents and/or guardians and/or,
3) promotes ongoing
and unnecessary conflict between parents and/or guardians which adversely
affects the parenting, well-being and rearing of a child.
Hostile-Aggressive Parenting is most apparent in child-custody disputes and is used most often as a
tool to align the child with one of the parents during litigation over custody or control of the child.
However, HAP can be present in almost any situation where two or
more people involved in a child's life are at odds with each other over how a child may be raised or influenced by the parties. HAP can be present to some extent even when couples are still living
The focus of this
document is on Hostile-Aggressive Parenting as it applies to custody and access disputes relating to separation and/or divorce. Hostile-Aggressive Parenting is not limited to the biological parents but also applies to any guardian - grandparents, extended family members, babysitters and to any other person who may be involved
in caring and rearing of a child.
In some cases,
it may even involve a parent in dispute with the child's grandparents, sometimes the parent’s very own parent!. Any form of interference to
a normal, healthy relationship between a child and a person (most often one of the parents) caused by another person or agency having some control or influence over the child, is wrong and ultimately causes emotional and psychological
harm to the child.
document the word “parent” shall be considered
synonymous with “guardian”. Hostile-Aggressive Parenting is a form of abuse and maltreatment that parents and even other family members
can engage in. HAP can be a factor in all types of parenting
arrangements including sole maternal custody, sole paternal
custody and joint custody.
it is sole custodial parents who are most often
reported to practice Hostile-Aggressive Parenting, especially in
its most severe form. Sole custody has been a factor identified as contributing to HAP behavior in parents.
Although the majority
of complaints of Hostile-Aggressive Parenting are directed against mothers, which some
say can be attributed this to the fact that approximately 85%-95% of sole custody
awards are to the mothers, some professionals do support the notion that differences in the psychological makeup of the genders may be a factor with HAP.
Although this article
does not attempt to make the political issue of gender a
major factor as it relates to HAP, a number of studies
would seem to support the conclusion held by some that gender
may be a factor. Those that support this view claim that
there are psychological differences in the thinking patterns between men and women and that woman, in general, are more
prone to HAP.
In the area of gender, some research
has revealed the following:
Readers who may
be interested in the perspective of gender as it relates to HAP
should research this subject more thoroughly through other
sources. HAP is clearly a form of child abuse and irregardless of the gender of the perpetrator, must
be identified and effectively dealt with.
family situation may be different, when situations involving Hostile-Aggressive Parenting
are carefully looked at, one or more of the causes
outlined in this document can be identified in almost every
general, parents exhibiting Hostile-Aggressive Parenting have not succeeded in getting on with their own life and remain, instead, controlled by their negative emotions and continue to exercise power and control over their ex-spouse's life, their ex-spouse's parenting and to a large extent, over the
children of the relationship as well. HAP parents will blame everyone else except themselves.
High degrees of
conflict during custody settlements and litigation are almost sure signs in these affected
families. Hostile-Aggressive parents are unable to appreciate the needs of their child and in many cases view their child as a possession belonging to them and no other persons have any right to the child, especially not the child's other parent or other persons that the HAP parent
does not like.
Hostile-Aggressive parents will use the child as a weapon against the other spouse and family members
whenever they have the opportunity. A parent
engaged in Hostile- Aggressive Parenting will often feel encouraged to intensify their aggressive behavior when they realize that the courts fail
to exercise sanctions against them for their abusive parenting practices. He or she will also take comfort in that the community in general will choose not to get involved, probably because they don’t know what to do. This explains why hostile-aggressive behavior is often observed in those having sole
custody of their child.
and vindictive sole custodial parents are often able to
bring a reign of terror and revenge on to a non-custodial parent and their family, their goal being to get them out of the child's life or at the very least to severely damage their child's relationship with the other parent and other parent’s family.
Hostile-Aggressive Parenting is considered by many health care
and legal experts as being an unhealthy, anti-social, abusive behavior which is emotionally damaging and contrary to the best interest
of a child. Simply stated, it is dysfunctional parenting, emotional child abuse and to the parent who is the target of Hostile-Aggressive Parenting, a form of discrimination.
Identifying Hostile-Aggressive Parenting
Although some of
the underlying causes Hostile-Aggressive Parenting may be related to mental health issues,
it must be emphasized that HAP, on its own, is not considered to be a mental health condition. HAP is simply a pattern of emotionally negative behavior by a parent which is damaging to children and in almost all cases is easily identified through observation of the specific
actions and decisions made by a parent.
parent who engages in behavior that is considered as HAP
may not necessarily be suffering from a mental condition nor would a person diagnosed
with a mental health condition necessarily exhibit HAP.
Because identifying HAP is done through simple observation of the interactions of the parents with their child and with the other parent, determining the presence of
HAP does not require the qualifications of a health
care professional to identify.
an understanding of the information and background contained in this document,
almost anyone from a child advocate to a day care worker, can competently identify HAP and know what to do to help minimize the damaging
affects of HAP on children irregardless of whether the person exhibiting HAP requires some form of mental treatment or not.
The underlying causes of Hostile - Aggressive Parenting
a number of reasons why parents or other family members engage in Hostile-Aggressive Parenting
when exercising their parental/guardian authority.
It is important for all persons who have to deal with persons
exhibiting HAP behaviors so that they can better
understand why these persons are behaving in this manner.
Some of the main causes, described briefly, are:
Anger and revenge and the inability to control it, are the most common underlying causes of Hostile-Aggressive Parenting behavior.
Usually, when a couple separates, there is a lot of pain and
hurt caused by the separation. Unfortunately, many parents are unable to deal with their hurt in a positive way and, instead, focus their emotions in a damaging way towards their former spouse and family.
Their anger and need for revenge against the other parent takes control to some extent.
In severe cases,
these emotions can become the main motivating factors in those persons’ lives. Although anger and revenge are basic human reactions, they can be kept largely under control and their adverse affects on children eliminated if the appropriate intervention strategies are employed through
the court process coupled with the proper support from the community.
In some cases,
parents may fear that their own relationship with their child is not strong enough and worry that their child may develop a stronger relationship with the other parent. Some parents may fear that they may lose custody of the child to the other parent if the child’s bond with the other parent becomes too strong.
As a consequence,
the fearful parent may resort to Hostile-Aggressive Parenting
in the hope of strengthening their own bond with the child at the expense of the child's relationship with the other parent. Jealousy and fear are often high up on the list when a parent believes that their child may want to spend more time with the other parent, especially when custody
and parenting time is yet to be determined by the court.
Some parents may
resort to HAP fearing that the court may reduce their involvement with the child or not grant their bid for sole custody of the child.
Some parents simply
have a desire for power and control over the child and the child’s other parent and the child literally becomes their tool to accomplish this. Often, this thirst for power and control over the other family situation can last for many years,
if not a lifetime.
The use of the
child as a means to have power and control over the other parent is most common in situations where a child has been placed under the sole custodial power of only one parent or where one parent has a significantly
greater period of time with the child.
In addition to
the money that will often flow to the custodial parent from
the non-custodial parent, parents who have custody of children are often able to make further financial demands and accounting of their former partners, year after year.
Religious conflicts between parents are also a power and control issue with parents of different religions wanting the child to follow the beliefs of his/her own religion.
Hostile-Aggressive behavior as a court strategy
It is known in
the legal community that if conflict exists in a family during separation or divorce that the courts will often apply the misguided concept
of awarding sole custody to one parent in order to put the
sole custodial parent “in control” over the children and, as it usually turns out, the other parent.
Many members of
the public and the legal community claim that a bias in favor of mothers exists in
the family courts today. Many believe that the courts will give custody of the children to the mother almost exclusively, with little regard to
the father. Analysis of Canadian case law supports the claim that there is a bias based on gender in favor of mothers in the family court system.9
Some claim that
because of the bias in the courts, some mothers who want to win sole custody in family
court will deliberately create conflict prior to going into court as they believe that it is to their advantage to do so and the odds are
in their favor. This may explain why many fathers experience
access denial problems in the weeks and months prior to going to court.
Some parents have
reported being encouraged by their solicitors to give lip service to any form of mediation,
to make unfounded allegations and generally maintain a high level of conflict prior to going to court. Those in legal circles know that
often the courts will grant sole custody, usually to mothers,
should conflict exist prior to a court appearance.
Calls to police
and social services prior to court are common-place as parents
attempt to disadvantage and frustrate the other parent, often forcing the other parent to call
the authorities to seek help. This tactic is then used by the parent to claim
conflict and to insist that the court grant sole custody to them and that any form of joint custody
Unfortunately for the children, this strategy by the HAP parent often works, with the
result that the youngest, most defenseless children are then placed into the care of a parent who exposes the children to a lifetime of hatred and revenge, a behavior pattern which many children end up learning and many carrying these behavior into the next generation.
Lawyers and the adversarial court process
Lawyers play a
significant role in creating hostilities and encouragingd a parent to engage in Hostile-Aggressive Parenting. Although there are many
fine and outstanding family law lawyers who sincerely try their best to resolve a family’s differences, unfortunately, there are a number of lawyers who use unnecessary inflammatory, derogatory and exaggerated language in affidavits,
which helps to keep emotions high and court battles going.
There seems that
the prevalent thinking in the court system today is to give care and control of children to only one person where conflict exists. Some of the less caring lawyers, aware that courts tend to give power and control to only one parent when conflict exists, may encourage their clients to go so far as to provoke conflict as part of an overall strategy to win in court. Some lawyers
have been exposed for putting barriers to the release of
information critical to a child abuse investigation, because this information would place their client in a
Unfortunately, the obligation of a lawyer to work in the best interest of their client,
sometimes works against the best interest of the child, which undoubtedly will cause conflict with the other parent.
Social workers, counselors and other health care professionals
are many highly qualified and caringsocial workers, counselors and other health care professionals,
unfortunately, there are a number of those who are known to provide one-sided reports
favorable to anyone who is willing to pay the price for their services.
third parties will distort and manipulate the facts in a manner intended to conceal the behavior of the hostile-aggressive parent while exaggerating any minor faults of the other parent. In some cases these
unethical persons will submit false allegations and slander the parent they are trying to paint as a bad parent.
Quite often, when
children are exhibiting behavior problems because of the actions
of a custodial HAP parent, these professionals will
claim that the non-custodial parent is inducing these behaviors
into the children. Even though the non-custodial parent has little time to be
of influence on the child, they will attempt to blame the non-custodial parent.
Hostile-Aggressive parents will often take their children to these contracted professionals after coaching the children to say certain things about the other parent when they are in the presence of these
hired professionals. The report done by these types of professionals is then used in court by the hostile-aggressive parent against the other parent to further harm and in some cases completely sever
the relationship between the child and the other parent.
Some parents have
reported that some third parties demand more money to continue
their work or threaten to not finish their report. Many parents who have reached
the end of their financial abilities, drop out of the game, leaving the children stranded, often with the children being put in the care of the parent with resources to make it through the financial
war. It has been widely reported and there is evidence to support the position
that some social workers, including those working for government sanctioned agencies, have
biases which result in highly inaccurate and flawed reports.
Listed below are
just some of the indicators that should possibly raise concerns with third parties who
work with children. The issue of unethical persons who work with children is more effectively covered in other literature.
Some of these warning indicators would include:
provide counseling or therapy with the child upon the consent of only one parent without giving
the other parent the opportunity to be involved in the process within a reasonable period
of time after first meeting the child.
make damaging statements about a child's relationship with a parent based on hearsay evidence
from one parent and without ever calling the other parent and providing the other parent
the opportunity to meet the professionals with the child.
not have an established place of business that they provide services from.
often ask parents to hold meetings in coffee shops or other public locations or seem hesitant about disclosing where they live or work.
not disclose copies of their curriculum vitae or other evidence of their experience and past history
not have published criteria, risk indicators or procedures they follow when doing work or are unwilling to provide copies of these tools for review.
claim to have professional credentials but not a member of good standing with any professional body that regulates the profession locally. Some of these people have
licenses granted in other countries or geographical areas
which are not recognized locally but speak as if they are
licensed locally. Some of these persons may refer to themselves as “therapists” which in many areas is not a regulated profession.
Make claims and
statements about children or parents in areas of expertise that they are not properly
qualified or licensed to make.
Sole custody awards
a high number of cases where Hostile-Aggressive Parenting
has been reported, it is the parent with
sole custody of the child who is identified as being the HAP parent. Sole custody awards, in fact, generally result in higher levels of conflict than with joint custody arrangements10.
reason for this is that the sole custodial
parents are now in a position to exercise their revenge with impunity,
confident that the non-custodial parents, in most cases, have little or no rights. The old saying
“Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts
often holds true in sole custody awards. Parents with sole custody may change the school or the child's religion without the consent or knowledge of the other
can, and often do, unilaterally change the child's surname and give the child the surname of another person they enter into a relationship with. This
can be very upsetting to the biological parent and extended family members.
in most jurisdictions show that mothers are awarded custody of the children in the vast majority of times. The vast majority of complaints
of HAP parenting are also made against mothers.
Although Hostile-Aggressive Parenting by sole custodial fathers can also be a problem, it would
appear that this scenario is much less common than with mothers.
Research shows that sole custodial fathers are far more likely to include the mother in the parenting
of the child than is a sole custodial mother to involve the father,
which may be one significant reason for fewer complaints of Hostile-Aggressive Parenting
gain is also another strong motivator to hostile-aggressive parents.
Gaining custody and control of the children involved is often desired as a way of increasing one party’s personal financial gain to the disadvantage of the other parent. Hostile-Aggressive Parenting can help achieve this by helping to gain custody and child support for the child.
For the parent
with custody of the child there are huge rewards – child support payment, income tax credits and other child
tax credits. Between child support and the other tax benefits, the amount of money involved is usually amounts to thousands of dollars per year, much of it tax-free.
On the opposite side is the
fear of the parent of becoming the non-custodial parent. This anticipated result encourages other parents to resort to Hostile-Aggressive Parenting for the same reason. The financial windfall associated with child support does little to promote
cooperative parenting and ultimately increases animosity,
anger, revenge, disorder and breaks down harmony. Child
support laws are very punitive to the party who loses custody
of the child.
Mild to severe personality/psychiatric disorders
In a very small
number of cases where HAP has been identified, one or a number of personality/psychiatric
disorders may be the underlying cause or partially the cause. Although most behaviours
are related to the environment that persons are exposed to during their developmental years,
some may be attributed to genetic disposition in which case, hostile-aggressive
tendencies seem to be present in previous generations
of a family tree.
exhibit severe hostile aggressive-behavior and who seem unable
to change their behaviors often suffer some form of mental
or personality disorder which is affecting their ability to deal with day to day matters on a rational level.
Hostile-Aggressive Parenting (HAP) can be one of the first signs
of a person with a personality/psychiatric disorder. A personality disorder is a pattern of deviant or abnormal behaviour
that a person doesn't change even though it causes emotional
upsets and trouble with other people at work and in personal relationships.
It is not limited to episodes of mental illness, and it is not caused by drug or alcohol use, head injury, or illness. There are about a dozen different behavior
patterns classified as personality disorders by DSM-IV.
All the personality disorders show up as deviations from normal in
one or more of the following:
a) cognition -
i.e., perception, thinking, and interpretation of oneself, other people, and events;
- i.e., emotional responses (range, intensity, appropriateness);
(1) Borderline Personality Disorder
Many of the actions
of HAP parent may be identified as patterns of behavior
associated with forms of mental illness referred to as “Borderline
Personality Disorder” (BPD). Although the issue of personality disorders is touched on, it is not within the scope of this document to discuss
details of the issues related to mental disorders.
Persons who may be dealing
with HAP parents should conduct research into BPD or consult with a mental health professional to see
if this mental health problem may be a factor in their case.
A history of mental problems with other family members or a history
of dysfunction in a person’s family may be signs of a mental condition with the person exhibiting signs of HAP.
(2) Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSBP)
behaviors, especially those where illness of the child is being used to interfere with a child's relationship with another parent, may indicated a risk
for a parent who suffers from a form of mental illness called
Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSBP).
The term "Munchausen
syndrome by proxy" (MSBP) was coined around twenty years
ago, and hundreds of reports have appeared since then. In
most cases, a mother either claims that her child is sick, or she goes even further to actually make the
child sick. This excuse is then used to deny the other parent access to the child.
The MSBP parent
will say that only they can take care of the child or in many cases make the child sick so that when the child is with the other parent, the child is ill or always complaining that they don’t feel
well. In very serious cases where severe Parental Alienation becomes and issue, the MSBP parent may actually get the
child to become a willing participant in the MSBP’s deception.
MSBP parent may repeatedly take the child for medical treatment and get drugs prescribed for the
child. Often they will schedule visits with the doctor for the child during times when the child is supposed to be with the other parent, all the while denying any knowledge of the origin
of the problem - namely, themselves.
As a result, MSBP
parents may have their child undergo extraordinary numbers of lab tests, medication
trials, and even surgical procedures that aren't really needed.
They may repeatedly take the child to counselors or “therapists”. ADHD is often used by HAP parents to place blame on the child for the child's behavioral problems and detract attention away from the
In the vast majority
of reported cases of MSBP, the perpetrator is the mother
and the victim an infant or toddler. The web of deceit that a MSBP caregiver spins can be supported by medical signs and symptoms that mislead even very skillful physicians. Their
acting skills of an HAP parent suffering mental problems can match those of a veteran performer.
For instance, a parent suffering from MSBP might suffocate the child during the night to the point of unconsciousness, then
frantically take the limp child to the hospital with tears rolling down her cheeks. The
MSBY parent may secretly place a drop of blood in the child's urine specimen, then appear
shocked at lab results that alarm the unsuspecting physicians and nurses.
Behind closed doors, the MSBP parent may rub the child's skin with corrosive household cleaners such as oven cleaner
in order to cause a baffling blistering rash that may last for months. Since it may take many years of illness for doctors finally to arrive at the truth, it should not be surprising that
this form of child abuse has a significant mortality rate.
Some HAP parents may carry their hate of the other parent on for years and
years, never seeming to be able to forgive or to find peace
with the other parent, no matter what the other parent may try to do
to attempt to improve the situation. Some of the problems that the hostile-aggressive
parent may have may relate to their own childhood experience and have absolutely nothing to do with the other parent.
Still other parents
may have delusions about the other parent and may really believe in their own
mind, certain things about the other parent. For example, they may really believe that the other parent is sexually or physically abusing the child. In most cases there may be little or no evidence to support
with child protection agencies are often misled by the hostile-aggressive parent into believing the parent’s fantasy. This can and often does, results in a child being placed under even greater control of a hostile-aggressive
(3) Antisocial personality disorder (APD)
Persons who appear to be acting
in a hostile and aggressive manner with parenting may also suffer from
what is called Antisocial personality disorder or (APD). Antisocial personality
disorder is a personality
disorder listed in the DSM-IV. It is generally considered to be the same as, or similar to, the disorder that was previously known as psychopathic or sociopathic personality disorder.11
Those who have
APD often act in cold and insensitive ways. At times, they can seem charming but other
times they can be very cunning and insincere. Often those with APD tend to view relationships
only in terms of what they can gain from them.
People with APD
may think that it is acceptable to manipulate or deceive others to get what they want.
As a result, persons with APD tend to have a general lack of regard for rules, laws, and customs. They assume that these rules and laws do not apply to them or always have some excuse
as to why their own circumstances are an exception to the
This causes frequent
problems at work, with family relationships and with the
law. General symptoms of APD include:
disregard for safety and responsibility
refusal to conform to lawful behaviours
deceitfulness, repeated lying, or conning
others for personal profit or pleasure
aggressiveness, and/or violent behavior
lack of conscience or remorse for consequences
lack of empathy
lack of honesty
Third party reinforcement/involvement
In many cases grandparents,
babysitters and former family friends may also exhibit Hostile-Aggressive Parenting at times when
they have authority over a child or may encourage hostile aggressive behaviors.
For example, a
daycare provider may prevent telephone communication between
the child and the other parent while at their home because of instructions from the hostile
and without ever questioning the reasons for these instructions. Some grandparents,
who provide care for the child at times, may be given similar instructions by their hostile-aggressive son/daughter.
grandparents comply with the wishes of their hostile-aggressive son/daughter out of fear that their son/daughter will “punish”
them for not following their orders. Similarly, teachers
at school may help to keep a loving and caring parent away from their child based simply on the destructive wishes of a hostile-aggressive parent.
Doctors and other specialists may also be deceived by the hostile-aggressive parent into taking a position which helps the hostile-aggressive
parent spread their hatred of the other parent. In
such situations, these people become collaborators to the hostile-aggressive
parent and end up helping the hostile-aggressive parent spread their sphere of hate and revenge.
in fact, become unknowing contributors to abuse of the very
child they mistakenly believe they are helping to protect. Any
parent, especially a sole custodial parent, who instructs others to interfere with
the child's relationship with another parent should be listened to with great caution and should be
asked to submit their requests in writing with third party evidence to support their claims.
Such parents who also exhibit a number of the identifying behaviors or risk
factors of a hostile aggressive parent should be considered highly suspect for child abuse
and their motives questioned.
In most cases,
these collaborators cooperate with the hostile-aggressive parent
because they lack knowledge regarding Hostile-Aggressive Parenting
and have been led to believe by the hostile aggressive parent that they are doing the right
thing and helping to protect the child.
These collaborators are given one-sided and misleading information about the
separation and divorce by the hostile-aggressive parent, information intended to make the other parent look bad. It must be
remembered that HAP parents are usually masters of deception.
have been brainwashed into thinking that the hostile-aggressive parent is the good parent and that the other parent and extended family are bad influences on the child. These collaborators usually lack the accurate and unbiased
information about the family’s situation needed to make an informative and fair
conclusion on their own.
parents will go so far as to relocate their child to a new babysitter or a new school should they see that
for some reason or another, that their collaborators have
begun to see the truth of what the hostile-aggressive parent
is really doing to their child and how wrong it is.
The outcome of Hostile-Aggressive Parenting
Hostile-Aggressive Parenting, if left unchecked, will result in adverse, long term and often life-long physical and emotional consequences for the child, the child's siblings (if any) and extended family members. Without effective intervention by the courts and the community, Hostile-Aggressive Parenting may cause the parents to remain embroiled in bitter conflict lasting for many years.
Not only will Hostile-Aggressive
Parenting affect the children and the parents but the entire community in which the family
lives. In a study by Statistics Canada, hostile parenting has been identified as the most damaging form of child abuse. Children will perform poorly in school and will be lacking in the
social skills needed later in life to be contributing members of society.
Canada reported that children who were exposed to hostile or ineffective parenting were 9
times more likely to show behavioral problems than children who were not exposed to hostile or ineffective parenting.12
A child who is raised in an environment where Hostile-Aggressive
Parenting is practiced may eventually consider this
type of behavior to be normal and thus practice engage in this style of parenting
themselves as they mature into adults and enter into their own personal relationships.
Children learn to imitate the confrontational or aggressive behavioral styles that they observe in their parents13.
A parent who engages
in Hostile-Aggressive Parenting during
their child's growing years will likely cause significant harm
to their own child's psychological well-being.
Propensity to violence and HAP behavior later in life
Many of the behaviors
identified as HAP can be considered as violent and abusive and can set the stage
for violence and/or HAP behavior later in the child's life. The way a parent structures the environment for their
child impacts the development of the child. A review of research findings conducted by the Gulbenkian
Foundation in 1995 confirms that harsh and humiliating discipline are implicated
in the development of anti-social and violent behavior' (cited in McGuire, 1997, p. 71).
practices can hold harsh consequences for the child and may have a strong influence in shaping a child's propensity to violence later in life.
Parental alienation syndrome
One of the most
serious and far reaching consequences of a child's exposure to Hostile-aggressive Parenting over a period of time is
a psychological condition which the child may develop called Parental Alienation Syndrome or PAS.
In many situations Hostile-Aggressive Parenting is so unrelenting and the child's awareness that the parent having control of them is so great, as to cause the
child to begin to hate or fear their other parent and members of the other parent’s family.
Under such conditions,
a child is literally programmed by the hostile-aggressive (or alienating parent) to embark upon a campaign of denigration against the "hated" (or
targeted) parent and the targeted parent’s
family unit. The child exhibits little if any ambivalence over their hatred, which often
spreads to the extended family of the allegedly despised parent.
Not only parents,
but once loved grandparents and even other siblings can
become the “enemy” of a child who has been brainwashed by a parent into believing that
everyone who is associated with the “targeted” parent is bad
and is to be avoided.
political climate where mothers obtain sole custody of the children most of the time, it is, not surprisingly, that it is mothers
who are reported to initiate such programming most of the time, while
fathers and their extended families are the targets of such abuse.
Sole custody transfers
such awesome legal power on to one parent, that it is easy
to understand how it can be abused, especially in the hands
of someone driven by anger and vengeance against the child's other parent. This is one of the contributing factors that
explains why so many fathers and their families are missing
from the lives of children today.
It must also be
noted, however, that in a small percentage of cases, the father is the primary programmer
and the mother comes to be viewed as the “hated” parent. Research, however, shows that fathers are far more likely to include the mother in the parenting of the child than is the mother to involve the father.
In situations where
Hostile-Aggressive Parenting is severe, children themselves may also exhibit the same behavior as the hostile-aggressive parent and actually participate in this behavior
with the hostile-aggressive
parent. The children may join together with the hostile-aggressive parent in a bizarre relationship in which they all share in the denigration of the
Although the steps
outlined in this article will in most cases, reverse and even eradicate Parental Alienation
Syndrome if detected in its early and intermediate stages, parents and children affected by advanced Parental Alienation Syndrome
where severe psychological damage has been done by the HAP
parent, will likely require therapeutic and professional intervention in addition to the steps outlined in this document.
In the vast majority
of the times, lessening the amount of time the child is under the influence of the HAP parent is helpful at
lessening the destructive influences of the HAP parent,
many of which lead up to Parental Alienation Syndrome.
If the targeted
parent has genuinely been abusive to the child (physically or emotionally), then the concept of PAS may not be applicable. In the vast majority of cases, Parental Alienation
Syndrome is induced largely through the destructive influences
of only one of the parents.
Generally, children are resilient enough to withstand a fair bit of emotional
or physical abuse before they reach the point of hating
a parent. It is not normal or healthy for any child to hate a parent without a good, solid reason. Some children have been abused for years in intact families, yet when apprehended by child welfare authorities were found to still love their parents.
A child living under the influence and control of an HAP parent
can be induced to hate the other parent through subtle, yet powerful, influences
of the HAP parent. It is known that, in abusive situations, children often remain loyal to the HAP parent who is abusing them
and may become strongly aligned to the abusive HAP parent, sometimes
to the point of being dependent on the abuse.
For further information
about Parental Alienation Syndrome, readers should review materials and books
by Dr. Richard A. Gardner, a clinical professor of Child Psychiatry, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York City. He is considered one of the world’s
top authority on this subject. Other professionals as well
have written books and papers about Parental Alienation.
Reverse PAS (Alienation of the child from the HAP parent)
are many research documents and studies written about Parental Alienation and Parental
Alienation Syndrome, which in most cases focus on the HAP parent alienating the child from what is referred to as the “target” parent,
in a minor number of cases, the efforts of an HAP parent
to alienate a child from the child's other parent, may actually backfire on the HAP parent, and
create a situation which in simple terms could be coined “reverse PAS”.
In some cased,
a child through their own life experiences and their exposure to
HAP, learns or senses that what the HAP parent is doing
is wrong and over a period of time, may begin to develop hostile feelings towards their HAP parent out of frustration of having his/her wishes and preferences
suppressed and from having his/her rights and freedoms violated
over an extended period of time.
the child being affected may actually begin to hate their HAP parent with a passion. In many cases, a child who has been adversely affected by HAP over a period of time, especially in its more serious forms, will react by running away from their HAP parent
or exhibit severe behavioral problems while in the care of the HAP parent.
This hatred of the HAP parent
may last a lifetime. The only way to prevent parental alienation
from the HAP parent is for the HAP parent’s behaviors to be curtailed
through effective intervention and counseling early enough in the child's life to repair any damage that may have been caused earlier
by the HAP parenting.
A psychological condition
similar to Dr. Richard Gardner’s Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) which
has been recognized by many health care professionals in the world is a psychological state called Stockholm Syndrome. From Wikipedia, the internet encyclopaedia, Stockholm syndrome
is defined as the following:
The Stockholm syndrome is a psychological
state in which the victims of a kidnapping, or persons detained against
their free will - prisoners - develop a relationship with their captor(s).
This solidarity can sometimes become a real complicity, with prisoners
actually helping the captors to achieve their goals or to escape police.
Stockholm Syndrome has been named this way after the famous bank robbery of Kreditbanken in Norrmalmstorg, Stockholm which lasted from August 23 to August 28,
1973. (See Norrmalmstorg robbery.) In this case, the victims kept on defending their captors
even after their 6 days physical detention was over. They
showed a reticent behavior in the following legal procedures
Famous cases regarded
airplane hostages and kidnapped people, such as Patricia Hearst, who after having
been a hostage of a politically engaged military organization (the Symbionese Liberation
or SLA), joined it several months after she was freed.
In a similar manner
to victims of Stockholm Syndrome, HAP parents literally make their own child a prisoner to the HAP parent’s abuse. As a victim
unable to get free, the child may become aligned with his/her captors, who in the case
of an HAP parent, is usually the custodial parent or persons who
are most threatening and intimidating to the child.
Categories of Hostile-Aggressive Parenting and examples of associated behaviors or indicators
Hostile-Aggressive Parenting (HAP)
generally can be categorized into two levels, the first being mild
to moderate (the most common) and the second being severe. Identifying
the behaviors of hostile-aggressive
parents is the first step to determining the category and deciding on the necessary corrective actions to be taken.
majority of hostile-aggressive parents fall into
the mild to moderate category. Parents in this category
are often able to keep their abusive parenting behavior from being noticed by others or to keep
it at a level that others will likely turn a blind eye to it. In the severe category, the abusive parenting is more conspicuous, with others in the community being able to identify many of
The harm to a child is greater than with the items considered as being mild to moderate. The
campaign of a hostile-aggressive parent in the severe
category may be almost continual. In the severe category
there may be frequent intervention by police and other support agencies as well as open
defiance to court custody and access orders.
Many of these parents
have become quite bold, confident as they are that the system
does little to establish consequences for their actions. There are a minority of parents, however, whose Hostile-Aggressive Parenting is so chronic and deep-seated that they may be considered fanatical.
Often parents in
this category may suffer from emotional or psychological
disorders. It is in this category that the hostile-aggressive parent's behavior towards the friendly parent and the child is likely to be alarming. The hostile parent may utilize
a wide variety of hostile and aggressive tactics designed to make life difficult for the
friendly parent and to disrupt their child's relationship with the friendlier parent.
In severe cases
of HAP, many of the symptoms seen in the mild to moderate category are likely to be
present to a significant degree as well as one or more of the symptoms identified in the severe category. The hostile-aggressive
parent's level of hostility against the target parent can be very pronounced.
that the hostile-aggressive parent uses to justify
their behavior becomes more frivolous, and more absurd than
in mild to moderate. The hostile-aggressive parent
describes the other parent as all bad and attempts to program
his or her hate of the other parent into the child in what is described by health care professionals as “Parental Alienation.”
Under such extreme circumstances,
sanctions may be necessary against the hostile-aggressive parent. Transfer of parenting responsibilities from the hostile-aggressive parent to the target parent may be necessary so that the target parent can provide greater care, control and protection of the child and prevent further emotional harm to the child by actions of the hostile-aggressive parent.
Examples of mild to moderate Hostile-Aggressive Parenting
the mild to moderate category of HAP, most parents exhibit a number of recognizable
behaviors. The extensive list below have been
compiled from interviews with hundreds of parents, guardians
as well as legal and health who have either experienced or witnessed Hostile-Aggressive Parenting.
Should a parent
or guardian engage in a number of the behaviors listed below, then the parent
should be considered as a risk to the child's development. The list is below is not sorted in any particular
Some of these examples are:
1) Will badmouth the other parent
in front of the children.
Hostile-Aggressive Parents will often say
bad things about the other parent and constantly try to put a negative perspective on many
of the things that the other parent does, even when the other parent is being reasonable and fair. HAP parents will not justify why they are saying to the child but just say bad things about the other parent.
2) Not willing to participate in
any reasonable form of written communication.
Some Hostile-Aggressive Parents may try to avoid written communication such as letters, e-mails or faxes as these documents generally provide evidence to reveal their abusive
and uncooperative behavior. Some HAP parents may send typewritten
notes on occasion but often will not put their signature
on their notes.
3) Will tell the other parent and other third parties to deal
only with their lawyer at times of
The HAP parent wishes to frustrate
the other parent and believes that their lawyer will help
them makes things more difficult and further frustrate the other party’s efforts to
4) Will frustrate normal and healthy telephone communication
Frustrating telephone communications
is one of the most common behaviors that HAP parents demonstrate.
The HAP parent will often attempt to frustrate phone communication in the
- When the phone rings, they
will pick up the phone but then immediately hang up the phone
on the calling party.
- Will not answer the phone
when the other parent calls. Often the child may witness their parent let the phone ring and ring
numerous time without picking it up.
- Turn off their answering
machine when they see that it is the other parent who is calling which
makes it difficult for the other parent to leave messages.
- Use the call block feature
on the phone so that the other party cannot ring through to their
number even though the other parent’s actions would not warrant the blocking of calls.
- Will hang up
the phone immediately at the end of a conversation without giving the other
parent a chance to respond.
Not return phone
messages left by the other parent even when left on an answering machine
the child to speak to the other parent or family members on speakerphone or listen
in on the children's private conversations. Some HAP parents will force the child to
converse with the other parent over a speakerphone or will listen in on the child's conversations so that they can hear their child's live telephone conversations with the other parent. HAP
parents are literally paranoid about anything that their child may say to the other parent or about what the other parent
may say to the child.
order their child not to answer the phone when it rings, thereby limiting the child's telephone contacts with the other parent.
Many children in this situation are aware that their other parent is
trying to call but are often too fearful of the HAP parent to pick up the
phone even though they would like to.
grab and take away the phone from the child in the middle of a conversation with the
phones after use and lock them away in a closet or room so that the child has no access to a phone or install phones
high up on a wall, out of the reach for smaller children to be able to answer.
not let the child use a cell phone that the other parent may have provided to the child in an attempt to help overcome some of the telephone communication difficulties. Sometimes
the HAP parent will take the cell phone that was given for the child's use and use it for their personal use and run up a bill
which must be paid by the other parent.
Often the child will observe the telephone manners of HAP parent which sets a bad role model
for the child. The hostile-aggressive parent wishes to limit
the child's contact with the other parent and frustrate the other parent.
In some cases, HAP parents are trying to get the other parent
to do something that they can use as an excuse to call police.
5) Will say that
the child does not want to speak to the other parent.
HAP parents will not have the child call the other parent at prescribed times, even court ordered, and then say that the
child did not want to speak to the other parent. Very often these children are afraid to even ask as they know the HAP parent will
not be happy and may punish them in some ways.
6) Will not let older children speak for themselves.
HAP parents will generally
call on behalf of the child even when the child is old or mature enough to relay the information to the other parent.
For example, the HAP parent may call and tell the other parent that the child wants to come to their home for lunch. Rather than allowing
the child to call himself/herself, the HAP parent will call to give
7) Will undermine the other parent by encouraging the
child to defy the other parent’s authority
and even grant the child the freedom to do things which the other parent has deemed
to be inappropriate.
could range from allowing a young child to stay up far too late at night or allowing the child not to do his/her homework. This is especially harmful with a
teenage child as it encourages the child to manipulate one parent against the other to avoid discipline
and consequences. Hostile-aggressive parents will
allow the child to make decisions which clearly the child should not be making just for the purpose of getting the child to side with the HAP parent.
8) Will tell the child that they cannot alter the parenting times outlined on the court Order because the court does not allow this.
parents try to deceive children by telling them that they cannot spend more time with the
other parent because the court Order prohibits it. Although
the HAP parent knows otherwise, the HAP parent wants the child to think that it is the court’s fault so that they
can deflect blame away from themselves.
9) Will play on the children's feeling of guilt and sympathy.
examples may include telling the child that they will be lonely or not loved if the child leaves to go with the other parent or telling the child that they were really looking forward to the child spending time with them for a specific event or function,
even though it was the other parent’s parenting time.
Children find it very difficult to express their wishes when put under pressure by the parent
they are with at the time or against the wishes of the parent that they perceive to have the most power and control over them.
10) Will be uncooperative when
it comes to working out summer and holiday schedules for children.
hostile-aggressive parent will make all kinds of
excuses and employ all sorts of tactics to impede negotiations
between the other parent for summer holidays and other holidays
throughout the year. The hostile-aggressive parent's
intention is to create uncertainty with the other parent,
to create difficulties with the other parent’s schedule and to hopefully
through the delay, to minimize the amount of time that the child will have to spend with the other parent.
often, an HAP parent will delay matters and then say that they already
have things planned with the child, which of course, interferes with the non-custodial parent’s
ability to schedule time with the child. The HAP parent is always looking for ways to make sure
that the child's time is scheduled around the HAP parent’s priorities and not around
the child’s wishes or the priorities of the other parent.
Fail to involve the other parent in the choice of daycare providers.
Quite often the hostile-aggressive parent will
chose friends or people they know who will accept their side of the story
without questioning them. They will search out to find day care providers who will side with them or bend the truth in their favor to help them make things difficult for the other
The daycare workers these
parents choose often are ones who they know will not get "involved"
to help resolve problems or will keep silent about reporting irregularities involving the
children. Such daycare providers become, in effect, collaborative supporters to child abuse.
12) Choose third parties over the other parent to
care for the child when he/she is ill and not in school, regardless
of the other parent’s availability and willingness to care for the child.
The hostile-aggressive parent will use every opportunity to keep the other parent from having the chance to parent the child regardless of the wishes of the child or other parent so at times such as when the child is ill, the HAP will hire a babysitter in preference to allowing the
other parent to care for the child.
13) Deny access to the children by pretending that they are too sick or they have too much homework, or delay
hostile-aggressive parent will use every opportunity to keep the other parent from having the chance to parent
the child regardless of the wishes of the child or other parent.
14) Create difficulties for
the children to see the other parent on special occasions.
parents will attempt to prevent the child from being with the other parent on special occasions such
as birthdays, Father's or Mother's day, special family gatherings, etc. HAP parents can be very innovative in inventing excuses to keep children from seeing the other parent.
15) Attempt to force themselves upon
the other family at functions.
may show up unannounced at special events such as the funeral of a member of their ex-partner’s
family when they know that they are not invited or welcomed. This is often done to
disrupt the peacefulness of other family’s function.
16) Insist that the non-custodial parent return
the children precisely on time while not respecting these same rules themselves.
HAP parents may make a big issue about when the children are dropped off or picked up. Usually it is the sole custodial parent who is able to make
the biggest fuss about this as the non-custodial parent has little ability to raise an objection.
17) Unwilling to make arrangements with the other
parent when situations arise which reasonably warrant some flexibility.
For instance, a hostile parent may refuse to vary parenting
time to allow a child to attend events such as dance rehearsal, birthday parties and other
events because they are desired by other parent.
18) Unwilling to have a third party act as a mediator,
coordinator, or have any other professional involved in helping the parents co-parent
the children effectively.
Generally, the HAP parent
does not want any other third parties involved who may bear witness
to their Hostile-Aggressive Parenting. Quite often, the hostile-aggressive
parent will claim that third parties are biased
or unprofessional as a way to justify not wanting to have them
HAP parents may initially support the involvement of third parties
but then reject involvement of these people once they see
that the third parties will not support their HAP behaviors.
19) Make claims of bias against any party involved
with helping the family who does not support the HAP parent’s interests.
Generally, the HAP parent
will try to make allegations of bias or non-professionalism against anyone
who may become involved with helping the family. This may include assessors, social workers,
access supervisors, child advocates, etc.
HAP mothers will often allege that these people are members or supporters of “radical father’s rights” organizations
in an attempt to discredit them before the court. Conversely,
an HAP father may allege that the people are radical feminists
or closely associated with women’s abuse shelters.
20) Take the children to their “own” counselors, doctors or other professionals without the knowledge
or permission of the other parent.
hostile-aggressive parent will often take his/her child to a professional such as counselor or family doctor to obtain documentation such
as letters of support or opinions which may help them win to disrupt the child’s relationship
with the other parent.
HAP parent will not want the professionals to obtain any
input from the other parent as they do not want the professional to be influenced by information
from the friendly parent, which often is only the truth.
who provide support to HAP parents under such circumstances
are referred to in the industry as “hired guns”.
Sometimes these professionals are approached by the lawyer of the HAP parent and often
convinced to provide information to support the one side.
21) Unwilling to
participate in mediation or any kind of parenting program, which involves the
participation of all the members of the family.
Hostile-Aggressive Parents are usually afraid
of their abusive parenting being exposed at such meetings. They often do not want other
members of their family, often the children, to be revealing family secrets to outside third parties.
22) Unwilling to consider any kind of fair and equal
parenting arrangement for the child when such an arrangement is desired by the
other parent and/or the child.
Most hostile-aggressive parents cannot bear the thought of the other parent getting the same rights as they do with the children. Although most children can adapt quite well to a variety of parenting arrangements,
HAP parents will insist that for reasons of consistency and predictability, the child must be with them for a greater amount of time than with the other parent. The HAP parent
will use the “home base” for the child argument.
23) Unilaterally make plans
for the child on the other parent’s access time.
HAP parents will sometimes
plan activities for the child during the child's scheduled time to be with the other parent. For instance,
a custodial parent may sign the child up for a sports activity which may involve the child's participation on days that the child will be with the other parent.
Although having both parents show cooperation to support a common interest of the child is good, unilaterally planning the child's time with the other parent this may be considered controlling and
abusive when the other parent has less than 50% time share with the child, which is usually the case with most non-custodial parents.
24) Get the child to place blame and guilt on the other parent.
When an HAP parent
attempts to make plans for the child and finds that the other parent is not able to accommodate such plans,
then the HAP parent will lay blame on the parent and tell the child they can’t go to the event because of the other parent.
The HAP parent
will say things to the child to make it look like it was the other parent’s fault
such as, “you won’t be able to go now because your other parent
does not really want you to go there”. The HAP parent will then tell friends and neighbors
that the other parent did not want to do something good for the child.
25) Entice or bribe the child to not want to go with the other parent.
Very similar to making plans for the child on the other parent’s time, HAP parents will sometimes entice the child to not want to go with the other parent. For instance,
a custodial parent may offer such things as: to take the
child to an outing at a cottage, to go boating, on a trip, get a new pet such as a dog
or cat, etc.
Most of the things that the
parent offers are things that they know the child would really like to do or to have. By doing this, the
parent instils in the child that materialistic things are more important than the child's relationship with both of his/her parents.
26) Not inform the other parent of upcoming school
activities, events, or holidays when the child's regular schedule at school may not be applicable.
Very similar to making plans for the
child on the other parent’s time, HAP parents will often not pass on notices from school
in relation to children's homework or school trips. HAP parents often want to keep this information
from the other parent to show that they have control over the flow of information from
the child's school.
HAP parents will tell the school that the other parent is not allowed
to obtain information from the school without their consent.
27) Not inform the other parent in a timely manner when the child has been injured.
will often not inform the other parent if the child has injured themselves, even if the injuries are serious
enough that the child had to be taken to the doctor’s office or hospital.
The HAP parent will tell the
other parent days later and sometimes not until the other parent’s regular
parenting time. Sometimes the HAP parent may use the situation to tell the child that the other parent could not be bothered to see them
when they were injured.
28) Not allow the child to have any pictures or memorabilia involving the other parent in the home, including the child's own room.
29) Throw out or destroy pictures of
the other parent and remove pictures of the other parent from all photo albums.
This often will include pictures that their own child may have.
The HAP parent
has very little, if any, respect for the past, even if there were some good
experiences to remember. Their anger is so intense that even the picture of their former spouse in their home will negatively affect them.
30) Discard or sell gifts given by the other parent
while they were together
The hostile-aggressive parent will “clear
house” by throwing out wedding gifts, wedding gowns and rings and
other memorabilia relating to the couple’s past relationship. Items which could be of immense value to a child in later years are discarded with little consideration.
31) Contact their child's school or daycare and attempt to discredit the other parent and to unfairly prevent the other parent’s involvement with their child’s activities at the child's school or daycare.
When they contact
the school or daycare, HAP parents will use the same tricks
that they used in court - they will often make unsubstantiated claims and exaggerations against the other parent to cause maximum harm to the other parent’s credibility in
an attempt to minimize the other parent’s involvement
with the school or daycare.
32) Supply the school with false or misleading
contact information about the other parent and family designed to make it difficult
for the school to contact the non-custodial parent in the event of an emergency.
The hostile-aggressive parent wants school officials to only recognize
themselves as the parent and not the other parent and extended family.
33) Will refuse to participate in activities at
the child's school when the other parent is present.
In some cases the other parent
may be doing another totally separate activity in the school
but the hostile-aggressive parent will not want
to even be at the school, knowing the other parent is in
the same building.
34) Will object to the other parent
(usually the non custodial parent)
taking the child to any kind of counseling or
other third party professional.
The HAP parent is often
fearful of the child disclosing information to outside third parties without their knowledge which may affect
their situation with the court. HAP parents are often fearful of third parties asking the child about his/her wishes and preferences. Many HAP parents will use their sole custodial status
to prevent anyone professional from speaking to the child so that the child is kept silent.
35) Refuse to disclose important and
relevant contact information to the non-custodial parent.
HAP parent may refuse to disclose such information as place of employment, phone
numbers, contact numbers, health card information, etc., when there is no valid reason to
keep this information secret. Many times, this information can be important to the other parent in the case of an emergency.
36) Attempt to spread
their hate and animosity to the friends and/or extended family of the targeted
The HAP parent needs to be
seen as the better parent and to achieve this goal will
resort to many tactics to undermine the credibility and reputation of the other parent.
The HAP parent will often speak unfavourably about the other parent to everyone they
37) Feed misinformation to professionals in order to obtain
letters supporting their side
parents will often present themselves quite well to professionals such as doctors,
nurses, police officers, etc. They are often masters of deception and will often feed these
professionals with one-sided information in order to mislead professionals so that they can extract opinion or recommendation letters from these professionals which can favor the
HAP parent. Often the HAP parent will use these letters
to block the other parent’s access time with the child or use the letters in court against the other parent.
38) Claim that there is a potential for
conflict with their former spouse to thwart open discussion of the issues.
Many HAP parents have difficulty
defending their allegations when the other parent is present
to defend themselves. To avoid embarrassment and being faced with
often is the truth, HAP parents will tend to try to avoid open dialogue or family group conferences which tend to expose the lies of HAP parents.
To thwart attendance at such
meetings and conferences, HAP parents will often say that
they are fearful for their safety to attend such a meeting
and that being in the same room with their former spouse could pose a danger
to them. Even when security measures are suggested, HAP parents will come up with some
other excuse in an attempt to thwart any process which promotes openness and accountability.
39) Proclaim to have been awarded custody of the
children by the court because the court deemed them to be
the better parent and the other parent to be a lesser of a parent.
will use a court decision, even if flawed and unjust, as a tool in their war against the other parent.
40) Will threaten the child with loss of their love should the child ever want to live with the other parent or should the child show affection towards the other parent or other parent’s extended
Many HAP parents play on their
children's guilt and tell their child is that they will never be welcomed back in the home again if they ever go to live with the other parent or show greater affection for the other parent.
41) Will coach the child to “spy” on the other parent or pump the child for information.
Many HAP parents will ask
the child to report back to them about activities in the other parent’s
home and will tell the child to keep their “spying” activities a secret from the other parent.
Often HAP parents will interrogate the child for information after each child’s visit with the
42) Will make of false claims of parental conflict,
while doing nothing to reduce such conflict.
many cases, the HAP parent actually creates the conflict before going to court as a
strategy to win custody in court and then blame the other side for the conflict. A dead give away to HAP parents that attempt to use this strategy to their advantage is that they cannot
show any real reasonable attempt to have tried to resolve
the problem with outside third parties.
43) Will create
conflict with their just after visits with the other parent and then blame the other
parent for being the cause of the conflict with the child.
In many cases,
the HAP parent will creates conflict with their child many times when the child returns from visits with the other parent. The parent may
interrogate the child about the visit, or may say bad things about the other
parent to get the child upset. When the child does get upset out of frustration, the HAP parent will
report the child's behavior to child welfare protection agency or to the child's doctor, and report that this problem seems caused by the visits with the other parent.
In most cases, the HAP parent
is trying to have the child's access to the other parent reduced by placing blame on
the other parent.
44) Will send the child to the other parent’s home in old and undesirable clothes and keep any newer clothes that the other parent may have sent the child in when the child came to their home.
By these actions,
the HAP parent will indirectly benefit by forcing the other parent
to purchase more than their fair share of clothes for the child.
45) Will take the child out of the country on extended trips or holidays without leaving the other parent any details or contact information.
HAP parents want to show the
other parent that they have full control over the child and taking the child away from the other parent for extended periods of time
are one way in which HAP parents can demonstrate their power
and control. Normally, only sole custodial HAP parents are able to do this.
46) Will extort favors or materialistic things from the other
HAP parents will demand that the other parent purchase clothes and toys for the child or make concessions to transportation even though they
are receiving money for child support. If these demands are not
met, the HAP parent will punish the other parent by tightening control over the child and in most cases cutting back access to the child.
47) Will ask the Court to issue a restraining order
against the other party when there really is no need.
HAP parents often
want a restraining order to help make the other party look bad in
court and also to set up the other parent for stalking or harassment charges later on. Once the restraining order is placed it becomes very easy in the future for the HAP parent to turn
any little argument into grounds for the police to intervene
and to arrest the other party.
Often when police see that
a restraining order is already in effect, it is assumed that the person
is a troublemaker and harsh steps will be taken against the person who has the restraining
order on file against them.
48) Try to get the other parent in trouble with various other
Some HAP parents will attempt to make trouble
for the other parent by reporting them to various government
bodies, often anonymously. One of the common tricks that HAP parents do is to make
an anonymous call to tax collection agents giving false and misleading information about the other parent, in hopes of spawning an investigation against their former partner.
Other tricks include calling
municipal bylaw officials in relation to any minor bylaw infractions
around the home (such as the lawn, garbage and pets) or calling police
in regards to minor motor vehicle infractions (such as outdated insurance, emissions, seatbelt violations etc.).
49) Will make a mountain out of a mole hill.
HAP parents will often exaggerate small things in an
attempt to make the other parent look bad, especially during court proceedings. HAP parents will make major problems over such things as children seating in a car with air bags, children travelling in a car that does not meet vehicle emissions testing, allowing children to play on the sidewalk on the street alone, etc. An HAP
parent will try to make the other parent look bad no matter
how trivial the item may be.
Examples of severe Hostile-Aggressive Parenting
and/or guardians who practice severe Hostile-Aggressive Parenting will usually be highly noticeable by a number of people and their behavior will in most cases be considered
objectionable by most other reasonable people in the community.
Most parents in
this category have engaged in a high number of the examples
in the mild to moderate category in addition to some or several of the examples
of the severe category. Children under the care and control of any parent who exhibits the behaviors below
should be considered at high risk of psychological harm.
While there are
exceptions to every rule, the following can be useful as
a guideline to some of the identifying behaviors exhibited
by parents in the severe category:
1) Use excessive
physically discipline their children. A significant number of HAP parents will use excessive physical discipline bordering assault when disciplining their children. Some children have reported being slapped, pushed around and roughly handled.
violate court orders and agreements, especially in relation to parenting time. HAP
parents will ignore or challenge the authority of almost any court when it comes to parenting
time – if they believe that they can get away with it. Hostile-aggressive parents will constantly
look at ways in which to deprive the other parent/guardian of time with the children and will challenge the resolve of the court to correct
it. This is most commonly referred to as “access
3) Tell the
child that the other parent is not their biological parent. An HAP parent will
sometimes resort to telling a child that the other parent is not their biological parent.
may even be true. However, the HAP parent will cause further emotional abuse
to the child by disclosing this to the child at the time of separation in order to make the child believe that they really do not belong to the other parent and that the other parent cannot love them as much because the other parent is not a real parent. Often this strategy is used by a
parent when they are trying to invoke parental alienation into the child.
to exhibit anger towards the other parent, months or even years after the original
separation of the couple. Hostile-aggressive parents in the “severe” category may literally exhibit their hate and anger towards the other parent for the rest of their life.
Seldom can they ever think or talk about their former partners without evoking
negative emotions. They will create communication
difficulties for years.
their children to use prescription drugs. Many HAP parents will take their children to doctors and have drugs such as Ritalin prescribed
for their child in order to subdue the will of the child. HAP parents will not disclose their abuse of the child to the doctor but make the doctor believe that the child has ADHD.
Many HAP parents
will ignore the severe and dangerous long term side effects
of drugs such as Ritalin just so that they can have control over
the child and mask the child's behavior problems which are often caused by the HAP parent.
court documents. Some HAP parents have been known to have their lawyers
or other parties tamper with court documents and
in some cases even forge a judge’s signature to fabricate
a false court Order.
false sexual or physical abuse allegations against the other parent involving the children. HAP parents in the severe category will often go so far as to make false
sexual or physical abuse allegations which can devastate
the other parent. Often HAP parents will claim that the
child is “afraid” of the other parent.
parents will call police and child welfare protection officials with their fabricated stories,
knowing that an investigation often will result in the other
parent losing contact with the child for extended periods of time until an investigation
to have anonymous allegations of abuse made to police and child welfare protection agencies. Sometimes hostile-aggressive parents will make anonymous phone complaints
to agencies in an effort to get the agencies to begin an investigation involving the child and the other parent. The HAP parent wants to create as many problems to the other parent or family as possible.
their child to see the other parent under supervised access when there really is no need
for supervision. Some HAP parents will use every dirty trick in the book,
especially false allegations to force their child to have to visit with the other parent in a very restricted supervised
Some HAP parents
will even try to force children over the age of eight to visit with their other parent
in a supervised facility. The HAP parent uses the supervised access
as a form of punishment to the other parent and also as a way to get the child to not want to go to the supervised access center as most
of the supervised facilities are very boring for children above the age of eight.
their child to sexual activities with a new boyfriend or girlfriend or engage in promiscuous
activities in the presence of the child. Some HAP parents may be so careless in their sexual activities with new partners that the child may see them with their partners in bed or hear them
engage in sexual activities where the child is aware of what is going on.
to have biased relatives appointed for supervised access visits. Some
HAP parents will attempt to get one parent into supervised
access but with the condition that access to the child be at the home or in the presence of one of their own close family relatives.
While this may sound reasonable to have a family member supervise the child, in reality what the HAP parent often plans to do is to
get the relatives to support the HAP parent’s allegations that the child does not want to see the other child. HAP parents should never have the authority to appoint
or screen persons who fill the role of a supervisor.
interference at the other parent’s place of employment or volunteer position in the community. To satisfy their
need of revenge and thirst of power and control over the other
parent, the HAP parent will employ a number of tactics to adversely affect the other parent
in his/her. This may include such things as trying to get the other parent kicked out of volunteering at their children's school or at other functions in the community.
the child to be with or to communicate with the other parent on Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, birthdays and other special occasions. The
HAP parent will ignore special days and discourage
the child from showing respect for the other parent. Some children may actually wish to communicate with their other parent
but are afraid to mention this to their HAP parent
who most likely is the custodial parent.
on the other parent’s access time with the children. The HAP parent will sometime show up at activities where the non-custodial parent may have taken the child during their time with the child. The HAP parent and then come over and speak to the child while they are supposed to be spending time with the other
Some HAP parents
may be so overbearing and controlling as to impose on the
other parent’s time with the child, even when the other parent may be subjected to supervised
access with the child. Although there may be times, such as school concerts,
when contact between parents may be unavoidable, HAP parents usually
go out of their way to have contact with the child, not the other parent.
15) Threaten or
intimidate third parties who try to assist the family or who may have witnessed
the parent’s hostile-aggressive parenting. The HAP parent will use
intimidation tactics and veiled threats to ward off
the involvement of outside third parties who may wish to offer
help to the child.
In some cases HAP
parents may even threaten third parties with legal action
or police action should they get involved in the family’s matters. HAP parents want to get rid of any party who may be trying to advocate for the children by bringing valuable information regarding abuse
of the children by the HAP parent out into the open.
that the non-custodial parent is responsible for the children's behavior and emotional problems when the children are with the custodial parent. Often children under the control of a custodial HAP parent will
exhibit serious behavior problems. They may fight with the
HAP parent continuously.
The HAP parent
will then allege that these behaviors are as a result of
the non-custodial parent’s actions and allege that the non-custodial parent is brainwashing
the children. HAP parents will attempt to defect any blame on to others in order to
hide their HAP behaviors.
the child's place of residency further away from the other parent, family and friends
for the purpose of tightening control on the child and eliminating the other parent from regular involvement.
In some cases, HAP parents will move away to another community using excuses such as work reasons or wanting to be with family
to justify their move.
However, in many
cases, the main purpose of the move was to make it more difficult on the
other parent to see the child.
the child's school not to provide information or report cards to the other parent and/or
attempt to keep the other parent from attending school activities or events. Although
major research studies have shown that involvement of parents at the child's school, especially non custodial parents, can be
beneficial to the child's performance at school, HAP parents will use every
trick they can to keep the other parent out of their child's school life.
their child’s surname. Changing a child’s surname is something
done almost exclusively by mothers. HAP parents will
sometimes change their child's name purposely to insult to the other parent or as a show their power over the other parent. HAP parents may change
names on school records and other documents, often without following proper legal change
of name procedures.
Maiden names are
often used and in some cases mothers will even change the
last name of their child to be the same as their most recent common law spouse.
Surnames become a flavor of the day with HAP parents and change as often as they change
20) Get the
child to call the other parent by their first name In many cases, HAP parents
want to humiliate their former spouse and will pressure
their child to call the other parent by his/her first name. Quite often
while the HAP parent pressures the child to call the other parent by his/her first name, the HAP
parent will insist that the child refer to their new partner as “mommy”
registered mail to them from the other parent. Although most hostile-aggressive parents will try
not to leave evidence of their behavior, some in the serious category will even refuse
to accept registered mail that may be sent to them regarding their separation, divorce or parenting arrangements.
the school with false or misleading information about the other parent to keep the other parent and family uninvolved. For
example, a hostile-aggressive parent may provide
the names and phone numbers of people to call should their be an emergency at school
yet avoid mentioning the other parent or family members, even though they may be more
able to provide assistance in the event of an emergency at school or daycare.
acts of vandalism or carelessness against the property of other family members. Such
acts could include damaging the other parent’s car or home. During cohabitation, this may include the scenario where the HAP parent throws the other parent’s personal possessions and clothes out on the front lawn or driveway, etc..
fits of intense anger/verbal abuse against the other parent in front of the child and/or other third parties. These outbursts by the HAP parent often cause fear and anxiety in the child. These types of outbreaks are an indicator of emotional instability.
the other parent with physically hurting the child if the other parent does not give in to their
demands. Some HAP parents have been known to threaten physical harm and
even death of the child as a means of getting the other parent to do what they want.
Sadly, some children end up being murdered by HAP parents as a final act of revenge.
26) May attempt
to extort money for additional time with the child. Some HAP parents will tell
the other parent they can see the child but only if they pay them more money for the privilege.
Sometimes the HAP parent can be more subtle by telling the other parent to buy clothes
or to pay for other expenses, even when the parent may already be paying child support
for the child.
to physically or emotionally abuse their child even after the abuse has been brought to their
attention by third party professionals. HAP parents in the severe category
will often outright refuse to follow the recommendations
and advice of mediators, doctors and outside third party
professionals even after hostile parenting behaviors have been
brought to the attention of the HAP parent.
HAP parents will
continue their campaign of terror no matter what others
have to say to them. Often, HAP parents will not even listen to the advise of their own
lawyer regarding the parenting of the child.
Offer money or
bribes to outside third parties to bear false witness or to assist in making false
allegations of child abuse against the other parent. Some HAP parents
may be so bold as to involve others in the
malicious use of false allegations against another parent.
false allegations of harassment or stalking against third parties who are trying to help the family. HAP parents will
often allege that the other parent is harassing them by having
third parties call them in an attempt to assist the family resolve its problems.
The HAP parent will attempt to put these third parties in an unfavorable light
with the court in an attempt to convince the court to discourage
input from these outside third parties who are trying to
help. The HAP parent will do almost anything to get rid of any third party who is trying to assist the family.
seek out lawyers in their community with a known reputation of not caring about children or families. HAP parents may fire and hire several lawyers as they attempt
to find the most unscrupulous lawyer they can
their lawyer attempt to intimidate staff at the child’s school. Unethical
lawyers working for HAP parents may attempt to intimidate
third parties at the school by telephoning them or writing
to them in an attempt to intimidate them. Lawyers have been known to call school
officials in an attempt to solicit information favorable to their client which is often done in a manner to distort the truth.
Some lawyers will
lead school officials to believe that they must restrict
access to one parent and that the school must do as the HAP parent tells them
acknowledging their own child should the HAP parent accidentally meet the child and the other parent together in public. HAP parents will often turn and walk away in another direction in a store or shopping mall should they accidentally meet their child with the other parent. The HAP parent’s anger is
so strong that it blocks their ability to even act civilly in
refuse the opportunity of parenting time with their child. Some HAP parents will often
turn away the opportunity to be with their child for their own self gratifying reasons. Sometimes the HAP
parent will turn their own child's request to spend time with time as a form of punishment
or rejection as a result of the child wishing to maintain a relationship with the other parent.
Often, a child who has gone to live with his/her other, lesser or non hostile parent
out of choice is rejected by his/her HAP parent and given various excuses why the child cannot spend time with the HAP parent during a particular parenting period.
to speak to other children of the relationship who has not sided with them. HAP parents will often divide siblings by turning away from any of their
own children who do not side with them in their campaign of aggression
against the other parent.
For example, the HAP parent may not return phone calls from other children in the family or refuse to invite the other children to attend activities or events that they have invited the other “favored” children to attend.
physical injuries. Some HAP parents may inflict injuries upon themselves,
usually bruises and scratches, and then report this
to doctors and police in an attempt to falsely accuse the
other parent. Usually there are no witnesses to the incident when the physical injury
was claimed to have occurred although the HAP parent will claim that this harm occurred
during some time when a minor conflict, possibly verbal, occurred.
sever any relationship between the child and other step parents and extended step parent
family. HAP parents in the severe category generally desire to destroy
any positive relationship that their own child may have developed with step parents or step siblings.
The HAP parent takes the position that once the relationship is over between the parents,
then the relationship that any child may have with the other parent or family is also ended.
restrict the child's access to a telephone. Some HAP parents may restrict all access to a phone in their home by their child in order to prevent the child from communicating with the other parent. Some HAP parents
may change their phone service to a cellular service which
they keep with them at all times. Some children are not even allowed to know their phone numbers
at home, thus preventing phone contact by the child's friends.
38) May coach
their children from previous relationships to bad mouth their most recent partner
and involve the children in their hate campaign of the target parent. This is very damaging to the child, as the child is being taught to hate another person for no reason whatsoever.
total control over children's access to phone with use of cellular phone. Some HAP parents may totally control the use of the phone lines with children but using a cellular based phone line and not having any
home based phone line. In this way, the HAP parent can have
total control over the phone. A child in this environment has no way of using the phone in the
home without the HAP parent knowing when they use the phone. A cellular based phone gives the HAP parent total control over incoming and outgoing calls to the child.
40) Engage in tape recording of the child's telephone calls and involve others in this sometimes
illegal and harmful practice. Some HAP parents will tape all their children's telephone calls between the other parent.
Although this may be warranted
out of fear of inappropriate dialogue for limited amounts
of time, generally HAP parents will tape record conversations
over many months and even years. HAP parents will also get other family members,
such as grandparents, involved in illegally tape recording conversations between the
child and parent.
Under more appropriate conditions,
a parent with a concern about inappropriate conversations
should deal with the problem in an open manner with the other parent
and child, but not continue to covertly record conversations over an extended period of time.
41) May threaten and/or intimidate their child. The HAP parent may threaten or intimidate a child by telling them things to make them scared or sad such as destroying a pet or refusing to give the child something that the parent had previously promised to give to the child.
42) Use underhanded tactics to force the child to recant previous statements. Some HAP parents may intimidate or threaten the child and force them to go back on previous statements that they
may have made to social workers or police. Forcing children to lie can result in tremendous emotional harm.
their child after a visit with the other parent. Some HAP parents will literally
interrogate their child immediately or shortly after the visit with the other parent, sometimes to the
point of making their child cry into depression.
Some HAP parents
are literally obsessed with knowing about everything that
goes on and what is said with the intent of finding something
that they can use against the other parent. Some HAP parents are fearful of what the
child may be saying to the other parent.
44) Make the child write a mean spirited letter to the other parent intended to hurt the other parent or to extort something from them.
Such letters may include the child telling his/her non-custodial parent that he/she does not
want to see them or that they want more money from
the non-custodial parent.
Some HAP parents will
go so far as to get their children to write hurtful letters to the other parent. Often these HAP parents will dictate to the child what they want the child to write in their letters.
Some parents are
so disturbed in their parenting as to write the letter and
to forge the child's signature on the letter. Quite often, it is the language
that gives away the HAP parents as the words used in such letters are often years ahead of the child's vocabulary for his/her age and maturity.
45) Tell the child to remain silent about incidences where the child has been abused or where the child has witnessed abuse in the home. Often HAP
parents will threaten or intimidate their child to lie and remain silent about things that may cast the HAP parent into a negative light
and get the child to be part of the HAP parent’s pattern of lies and deceptions. This is emotionally
harmful for the child and sets a very bad role model for the child in that it teaches children that it is normal and OK to lie and to hide the truth.
46) Allow their own child to be exposed to highly negative influences.
Some HAP parents will allow
their child to be exposed to negative influences such as drug and alcohol abuse, smoking,
sex, pornography or weapons while the child is under their care and control.
The HAP parent will exercise minimal supervision over the child and in many cases let their teenage child do whatever they want. It has been reported that some HAP parents have permitted
their teenage children to keep hand guns in the home just because the children wanted them. This is often used to help invoke parental
alienation in teenage children.
The HAP parent will often go so far as to destroy the future of their own
child, just for the sake of turning the child against the other parent. Unfortunately, because of the freedom granted to them
by their HAP parents, many of these children end up making the wrong choices in life and ultimately
find themselves in trouble with the law.
47) Will disrupt their child's relationship with other children associated with the other parent. Some HAP parents will interfere and try to break off their child's contact with other children who may be associated with the other parent.
The HAP parent wants to cut
the child off with having anything to do with the other parent’s
home, including having friendships when with the other parent.
To erode the child's relationships with other children, the HAP parent, will refuse to take calls from the other
children or tell other children when they call that the child is not available. Over a period of time the other children, just stop calling.
48) Encourage their child to participate in criminal activities. Some HAP parents have been known to involve their child criminal activities such as shoplifting or stealing.
A HAP parent will turn a blind eye should they see things brought back to the house
that were likely obtained by illegal methods. Often the
HAP parent is afraid to say anything as they know that the only thing
that keeps the child loyal to them is the fact that the child has total freedom while at the home of the HAP parent.
mail intended for the child. Some HAP parents will break the law and intercept letters for the child or letters that the child may be sending out. HAP parents will sometimes open and
read letters that have arrived for the child and sometimes destroy letters from the other parent.
50) Intercept or destroy E mail messages intended for the child. Some HAP parents will find out their child's password for their e mail account and intercept the child’s messages from the other
parent or from other family members. Often the child will not even be aware that mail from other parties is
not being received as the HAP parent may erase the messages that they do
not want the child to see.
51) Unilaterally withdraw money and close down bank accounts which
were intended for the child. Some HAP parents will withdraw money that was in a joint bank account
intended for the child. They do this in order to take control of the money and to exercise their control over the other parent.
Although in some
cases these parents may actually take the money and redeposit
the money into another account for the child, the actions of the HAP parent is often intended to anger
the other parent and to show the other parent that the HAP parent has more influence
over the child's life than the other parent.
52) Will attempt to cast the other parent in a bad light to the court
by reporting in court documents the other parent’s
lawful activities to protest the court system. Some HAP parents will include material about the other parent’s activities
involving protest with any group or organization which is
involved in peaceful changes to the court system.
Pictures of the other parent at a peaceful rally or slogans used on signs may be
used in the court documents. Peaceful protest is the right
of people, yet the HAP parent will try to use a person’s
right to peaceful protect against them and often with the purpose to interfere with the parent’s relationship with the child.
In the majority
of cases, it is the sole custodial parent who generally exhibits the behaviors listed under severe Hostile-Aggressive Parenting. This is because the custodial parent has greater legal control over the child and knows that the other parent has little, if any, legal authority to challenge them
and is therefore powerless to prevent such behavior.
Often, with HAP
parents there may be also a number of additional risk assessment
indicators present which may provide further evidence that
the hostile-aggressive parent’s problems are deep routed. When behaviors in the severe HAP category
are observed it is also advisable to review these additional risk assessment indicators.
Examples of Critical Risk Behaviors/Indicators
The term “Critical
Risk Behavior/Indicator” refers to any behavior or action of a parent or guardian
which would be considered as so potentially damaging or neglectful to a child's physical or emotional well-being as to warrant immediate
intervention and removal of the child from the care of the parent at the very least on an interim basis.
Under many child welfare protection laws, most of these behaviors would
be considered as meeting the threshold for child abuse, neglect or maltreatment.
In most cases, the presence
of any Critical Risk Indicators listed here will warrant immediate intervention
and removal of the parent’s custody rights and comprehensive review of the child's time with the HAP parent.
1) Plan to abduct or abduct the children and go into hiding.
In some rare situations, HAP
parents may make plans and then flee with the child without any warning and take the child to another state, province and in some cases another country,
leaving no trace of where they were taking the child. In some situations, parents have been successful in hiding the children for years.
2) Rejected all efforts to correct HAP behaviors.
Some HAP parents
exhibit a gross unwillingness or inability
to reduce the child's exposure to HAP influences by literally refusing to follow
any recommendations intended to reduce HAP influences after being formally
cautioned about the harm that these behaviors could cause the child and the consequences of their actions.
3) Threats to kill or harm child.
Some HAP parents will threatened
to kill, to seriously harm, sexually or physically assault
or to use a weapon against a child. Some children have reported being thrown against walls, hit with objects
and forcefully wrestled and held down on the floor for just
doing simple things such as trying to use the phone to speak to their noncustodial parent.
4) May attempt suicide while caring for the child.
Some HAP parents have attempted
suicide, threatened suicide or have overdosed on drugs as
part of a suicide attempt while they have been caring for a child. Some children have witnessed their parents attempt to take their lives.
5) Attempted to extort or to blackmail
Some HAP parents will attempt
to extort a signature on court documents from the other
parent in matters relating to any issue. Often these HAP
parents will use denial of access to children as their key weapon to extort or blackmail the other parent.
6) Attempt murder or physical injury.
Some HAP parents may plan
and attempt to carry out the act of murdering or maiming
the other parent either themselves or through a third party “hit”
7) Child is physically or sexually assaulted by a parent’s partner.
In some cases, children will report being physically or sexually assaulted by the parent’s
current boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse. Sometimes the parent
will help to conceal the abuse from authorities and in some cases
become a collaborator to the crime.
8) Expose the child to excesses of alcohol and drugs.
Some HAP parents will have
wild parties where there is excessive use of drugs and alcohol,
fighting, etc. while the child is staying in the home. Often the child sees these activities and is often feels uncomfortable or afraid of the situation.
9) Expose child to smoke when child has a medical condition.
Some HAP parents are unwilling to control their cigarette habit even for the sake of their
children's health. Some HAP parents will continue to smoke and expose
their child to smoke even when their child has been diagnosed with a respiratory illness such as asthma.
10) Long term medical illness.
Some HAP parents are diagnosed
as suffering from some form of long term mental illness
which can be directly linked to the parent’s HAP behavior.
11) Promote drug abuse
by the child.
In some rare situations, HAP
parents may share drugs or alcohol with their underage child.
Additional Risk Assessment Indicators
most instances where signs of Hostile-Aggressive Parenting are present, some of the following additional risk factors may also be noted. When these additional risk
assessment indicators are know to exist with any person
exhibiting the specific HAP behaviors listed, would further reinforce
a conclusion of Hostile-Aggressive behavior.
Should any of these
risk assessment indicators listed below be detected with
parents who are also exhibiting a number of the behaviors
/ actions listed in the severe category, then it is very likely that the hostile-aggressive parent may have some deep seated psychological problem which will adversely affect their ability to act in the best interest of the child.
This will usually require
professional treatment. The following additional risk assessment
indicators are often associated with HAP parents and they should
also be referred to whenever HAP is suspected.
Additional risk assessment indicators are:
1) Past history
of denial of children's access to a parent from one or more previous relationships. HAP
parents with children from previous relationships often have children who do not have regular contact with their other biological
parent and extended family. A high risk indicator would
be if the HAP parent has another child who has been totally alienated from a parent and extended
family from a previous relationship.
2) Past history
of the HAP parent of being raised as a child in a home where Hostile-Aggressive Parenting was practiced by parents
or guardians in that home. Quite often, parents and guardians
suffering from HAP were raised by a parent who acted in a hostile manner against another parent. HAP behaviors can be passed down from one generation
to the next.
3) The HAP parent
has older or younger siblings in his/her own family who have been alienated from
a parent or other family members.
4) Collection of
child support from multiple parents for the same children. HAP parents will often use their children as profit centers and go after as many former partners for child support for
the same children in a practice called double-dipping. In countries such as Canada, a custodial
parent can collect child support from an unlimited number of parents who the HAP parent
may have had a short relationship with.
5) History of physical
or emotional abuse of a partner’s children from previous relationship during the time that hostile-aggressive parent was co-habitating with their partner.
6) History of obtaining
one or more ex-parte court Orders against a current or former spouse which
were used to gain an advantage in a family court matter.
7) Past history
as a victim of sexual, physical abuse or neglect as a child or young adult.
8) Previous attempts
at suicide or threats of suicide.
9) History of mental
illness or suicide within the HAP parent’s own family.
10) Currently under
medication for depression or mental illness or past history of mental illness or depression
requiring treatment or medication.
11) Current or
a past history of drug or alcohol abuse.
12) History of
bad relations with third parties such as neighbors, landlords, babysitters, in-laws or past
friends. HAP parents will often distance or cut off their relationship with most relatives on the other side of the child's family.
13) Past history
of being a “bully” in school.
14) The child's school has felt it necessary to contact child protection agencies regarding the child's physical or emotional well-being.
15) Parent has
a documented history as a perpetrator of physical or emotional child abuse or neglect
which has required involvement of a child protection agency
16) Past history
as a foster child or child receiving temporary care or assistance of local child protection
17) History of
neglect of children such as leaving children alone in the home when the children were too young to be left alone.
18) History as
a perpetrator and/or as a victim of physical or emotional abuse against / from their partner during cohabitation.
Few or no long term friendships. Hostile-aggressive
parents tend to constantly move on to finding
new friends and associates as people become aware of the hostile-aggressive
and distance themselves from the HAP person.
20) History of
protracted family or civil court litigation with one or more previous partners.
21) History of
poor relationship with own parents or other members of immediate family.
22) Past history
of conflict with in-laws and former in-laws from previous relationships.
History of having former partner(s) charged criminally for sexual or physical abuse. (Often hostile-aggressive parents use false allegations against the other
parent to get revenge)
24) Neighbors and
friends of the family also express concern about the behavior and motivation of
the hostile-aggressive parent.
25) Anger management
problem such as history of yelling at children, spouse and others.
26) A pattern of
multiple, short term sexual relationships or promiscuous lifestyle.
27) Past history
of deceptive practices such as shoplifting, fraud, use of false or misleading information relating to abuse of welfare or immigration laws. In many cases,
HAP parents are good liars and masters of
Currently involved in an intimate or live-in relationship with a new partner. HAP parents may become more determined to alienate children from a previous relationship in an attempt to make the
children more attached to a new partner.
29) Currently involved
in an intimate or live-in relationship with a new partner who has a history of
violence, drug or alcohol abuse, or who has a history of himself or herself of engaging in HAP behaviors. HAP parents often get strong support and encouragement from
partners who themselves have a history of
HAP behaviors. Quite often these new partners, view themselves
as a savior and will help their partner to get rid of their former partners and help to
Past history of naming children from a relationship with the mother’s maiden name. HAP parents (mothers) will insist at the birth of their child that they want the child to carry their own last name rather than the name of the
father which is considered normal for most North American
tradition and culture. Many HAP parents quite often have already made plans to leave
their current partners at a future convenient time, and even pregnancy may be part of their
plan of deception. HAP parents generally want to get things in place that will give them full control when they do make the move to separate from their partners.
31) Past history
of using a different surname to a partner they may have been married to as a form of disrespect to their current partner at the time. Some HAP mothers have been
know to resort back to their maiden name and
sometimes use the last name of former husbands even while married
and living with new husband. This does not include those professional people such as doctors
who are happily married but who keep their original surnames for professional reasons.
Past history of engaging in paternity fraud (usually mothers). Some HAP mothers have named a particular man into a relationship, claiming he was the father of their
child , when in fact, he is not. Often this deception is done
for purposes of collecting child support from the unwary man.
Escalating involvement in a religious organization or cult. Some HAP parents may increase their involvement in a religious group or cult. Often HAP parent find
sympathetic supporters in such activities and are often
able to get the others in the religious group to support their HAP
Many times the
HAP parent will also get their child tied up with activities with the group and will use
this as an excuse to deprive the other parent of access at times.
34) Currently collecting
welfare or social assistance or has a history of collecting welfare or social assistance at various times over a number of years. Studies document that there
is a direct link between poverty and problems
within families. The risk of HAP behaviors are increased when
parents are on social assistance, likely due to the added pressures caused by financial hardship.
35) Past history
of HAP behavior in previous relationships. Many HAP often end up becoming involved in multiple unsuccessful marriages or relationships during their lifetime.
Upon investigation, many of their previous relationships
involve HAP behaviors as well.
Dysfunctional family relationships
as a risk indicator
It is a foundation
and a principle of psychology that people learn their foundational relating patterns and
skills in their first relationships, i.e.; parents, siblings, extended family and then friends. It's a simple rule that is valid in the vast majority of situations. Many people will agree
that people are a product of the social environment they
were raised in.
People with strong
wills and self discipline can change the surface level of their relating patterns but seldom
can they change the underlying emotional patterns that have been learned during their developmental
years as a child and young adult. The current behavior of an HAP parent can be highly
influenced by the kind of relationship that the HAP parent had with his/her parents, siblings and extended family members during the years since childhood.
can be the relationships that the HAP parent has observed
amongst the other members of his/her family and circle of
friends. The bottom line is that if the HAP parent comes
from a family where there would appear to be a lot of conflict
within the family unit and those associated with the family unit, then there is a significant
risk that the HAP parent may carry these sorts of relationship problems into new relationships
they develop themselves during their lifetime, such as with a new spouse.
This is what many would refer to as being part of the “baggage” when entering
a new relationship.
Observable effects on children resulting from exposure to Hostile-Aggressive Parenting
Raising a child in a hostile-aggressive parenting environment is, without a
doubt, one of the most serious forms of child abuse imaginable. The behaviors of HAP parents can seriously affect their children's emotional, social, and intellectual development in many ways.
To those with the
knowledge to identify HAP, most children living under the influence of an HAP parent will
exhibit some signs of being adversely affected. It must
be emphasized that no specific behavior problem observed
in a child can be assumed to indicate that the child has been abused in any particular manner or even abused at all.
Some of the signs
observed in children can be misleading to those without knowledge and experience
in HAP to the point where outside third parties,
even professionals who are unfamiliar with HAP, may be totally misled initially and in some cases misdiagnose the behaviors. In one case a child may be reacting in one way, yet another child will react in a totally opposite way.
Although HAP is a behavior is often looked as an issue affecting
only the parents, by its very nature, HAP is a form of child abuse and neglect. Neurodevelopmental research (Glaser, 2000; Schwarz and Perry, 1994) suggests that child abuse and neglect
can affect brain development at critical and sensitive periods.
Abuse and maltreatment
of children through HAP behaviors can have lasting effects on a child's cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and interpersonal functioning (Glaser, 2000). HAP must
be taken very seriously for it can significantly affect the child for his/her lifetime.
In many cases,
it is not unusual for a child to exhibit signs of affection and love towards a HAP parent at some times which can be very confusing to the occasional or untrained observer who
may see the child showing affection to the HAP parent at some particular
time. Psychologists have recognized for years that even children living under the care of abusive caregivers, often will have deep seated loyalties
to those who may be physically and emotionally abusing them.
Most children often long for the love and approval from their caregivers so it is not uncommon for a child who is being abused by an HAP parent to be seen showing affection at some times to their HAP parents.
Where an HAP parent has been successful in alienating the child from another parent, the child may have the HAP parent as the only source of what the child perceives as love and affection. In reality, the behaviors
of many HAP parents cause the child to develop an emotionally dependency on the HAP parent, which in itself is not healthy for the child.
The presence of
HAP is more precisely determined by analysis of the child's overall behavior patterns and the overall parenting patterns of the
HAP parent over a period of time and also reviewing
the associated risk indicators. Evaluating HAP can be very deceiving to unsuspecting observers, especially when children have been coached or have been made to have
fears of their hostile-aggressive parent or guardian.
Therefore, in order
to provide greater accuracy in determining the presence of HAP
and identifying who the perpetrator of the abuse is, it
is important that conclusions be based on known behavior patterns of
the child and parents/guardians over a period of time so that the behavior patterns of the HAP parent can be identified.
Note: Because the
behaviors of children can be misleading if looked at in isolation, it is important
that the observable effects on children as listed in this section be cross referenced with
the known behavior patterns of the parents.
example, an HAP parent may complain about a child who is misbehaving and creating problems every time the child returns from the noncustodial parent’s home. The
HAP parent will then claim that the child's behavior is because of the influence of the non-custodial
parent and then using this reasoning, may attempt to further restrict
the child's access to the non-custodial parent.
Often, many professionals
agree with this position without looking at the behaviors
of the parent who is complaining and as a result great harm
is done to the child. However, if the situation is carefully analyzed by looking at the behaviors
of the parents and involved extended family members, it may be found that the HAP parent and his/her family
has an extensive history of interference with the child's relationship with the non-custodial parent.
signs are affected by the age of the child and the intensity of the hostile aggressive parent’s campaign. Sole custody and control
of a child can be a significant barrier to the evaluation of HAP. A child is at greatest risk when sole custody of the child is in the hands of a parent who is hostile and aggressive to the other parent.
Sole custody in
the hands of such a person, when there would appear
to be another caring parent available, is often nothing more than a license to
emotionally abuse the child. A non-custodial parent, even if they may have tendencies towards HAP, are not in an position to influence a child to any great extent as the custodial parent can easily take
steps to reinforce their control over the child and diminish the non-custodial parents influence over the child.
Below are some
examples of the widely-varied indicators that may be observed in a child who is being adversely affected by Hostile-Aggressive Parenting:
High levels of
conflict and behavioral between the child and the custodial HAP parent
High levels of
conflict between a child and the custodial parent, especially about parenting time and/or
communication with the non-custodial parent, are almost always a sure sign that the custodial
parent is an HAP parent. A determined child will often rebel against their custodial parent and create
all kinds of problems when they feel that their natural wishes and desires to see or to communicate with their other parent are being interfered with by the HAP parent.
This is a natural
reaction which is often a result of the child's frustration and a desire to have their wishes and preferences
Children, especially children above the age of 7 to 8 may begin to show anger directed at their custodial
HAP parent. Children at this age begin to come out of their shell and begin to develop a greater
ability to reason and to differentiate right from wrong. Children who are being adversely affected by a custodial parent’s
Hostile-Aggressive Parenting, may at this age begin to start
speaking of what it is that is bothering them and start
challenging the authority of the HAP behaviors of their parents.
They may become
defiant and aggressive with the custodial parent, especially
after they first go back to the custodial parent’s home after a visit with the non-custodial parent.
Children at this age often begin to see that what their custodial parent has led them to believe about their non-custodial parent is simply not true. They may become angry for being lied
to by the HAP parent. Children when questioned, if they have not developed a fear or an emotional dependency of their
custodial parent, will be able to speak out and clearly say what it is that is bothering them.
They may begin
to speak about some of the things that the custodial parent may be doing that are listed
in this document as being HAP behaviors. In some
situations, children may even start to create incidents in an attempt to have
their custodial parent get in trouble with authorities.
Left unresolved, often these conflicts will turn to physical altercations
between the child and the custodial parent and/or other family members who
support the custodial parent. Boyfriends and girlfriends
of HAP parents sometimes get involved an assist
the HAP parent to discipline the child without fully understanding the previous history.
most HAP parents, of course, will claim that the
conflict between themselves and the child is caused by the non-custodial parent and will not admit that it is their own HAP behavior that is causing
their child to behave in this manner.
Child runs away from the home of the custodial HAP
parent or may refuse to return to the home of the HAP parent
Another sure sign
that a child is being exposed to the influences of an HAP parent
is when the child runs away from the custodial parent’s home and goes
to the non-custodial parent’s home. A child who is having their physical and emotional needs by a custodial
parent seldom has no need to run away as the custodial parent
has all the power and control to protect them.
Sometimes the child may refuse to return and do such things as refuse to get
out of the car when dropped back at the home of the custodial
parent. Running away from an HAP parent’s
home is one of the symptoms of reverse parental alienation
where the child begins to develop a distain or even hatred of the HAP
Child may exhibit behavioral problems
Children exposed to Hostile-Aggressive Parenting likely will demonstrate
a number of behavioral problems as a result of their exposure
to HAP ranging from minor to serious. These problems may be observable at school, in the home
and in the community. Some studies have shown that as much as
85% of children with behavioral problems come from single parent (usually fatherless)
associated with children of separation and divorce generally are the result of two
contributing factors, both of which are closely connected to HAP
(1) Behavior problems learnt from child's exposure to HAP environment
When children observe their HAP parent acting in an anti-social
and aggressive manner over an extended period of time they
often pick up on a number of these behaviors and over time, consider them
to be socially acceptable.
Children are a product of their environment and do learn what they live.
Children living under the influence of a hostile-aggressive parent may
become themselves, selfish, self centred and have growing
anger management difficulties as years pass on. Children who are being physically abused or yelled at constantly
by a HAP parent will begin to deal with their own problems
in the same manner, often hitting out at siblings or schoolmates.
Many of these negative behaviors are often observable at the child's school. HAP behaviors picked up by a child from the HAP parent will, in many cases, seriously
affect a child's development and interfere with their ability to lead a
normal and balanced life.
may misdiagnose the child as having a conduct disorder and prescribe medication but,
in reality, these professionals fail to realize that the
child's own parent is instilling these types of negative and anti-social behaviors into
Some young children who exhibit behavioral problems as a result of exposure to HAP
parents do improve over the years. However, at least half
or more get worse. Older children often develop a hostile, aggressive attitude as well as being disobedient and defiant to parents and authorities.
Often these children get involved in more violent physical fights and may start
to use weapons. They may steal or lie, without any sign
of remorse or guilt when they are found out. They refuse to follow rules
and may start to break the law. Teenagers exposed to the influences of an HAP
parent start to manipulate the parents so that they can
get anything they want.
children witness their HAP parent lie and deceive people and get away with it, then the child may develop the same attitude that if their parent can get away with it, then they can too.
Often, the parent
who may have practiced HAP parenting when the child
was younger, now find themselves held hostage to a child
terrorist. HAP parents, fearful that the child may
leave them and go to the other parent if they don’t
get their way, often fall prey by letting the child set their own limits.
The fear of losing child support payment, alone, is enough to make a parent ignore good parenting just to maintain their legal control over the child.
Many of these affected
children get involved in criminal activities with their
friends. They may steal cars, break into houses or shoplift. They
may take risks with their health and safety by taking illegal drugs or having unprotected sexual intercourse.
Children are less
likely to act out aggressively when their parents use more effective parenting techniques
than those who rely on hostile-aggressive techniques such as
reacting to their child’s wishes to have a reasonable
relationship with their other parent with anger, and using negative rather
than positive reinforcement to the child’s relationship with the other parent.
McHale of Clark University headed a team of undergraduate and graduate students in
the research project he called Families Through Time. The project examined coparenting relationships
and how they can affect and predict the behavior of children from birth to preschool age.
The Families Through
Time project extends prior research McHale did with Jeffrey Rasmussen from
Purdue University. Here are the conclusions of this study which are available from the Clark University Website:
an understanding of what happens in
the triadic relationship between mother, father and child
during the child's infancy helps us to predict the child's patterns of coping with distress during the preschool years.
the preschool children rated high by
their teachers on a scale of hostile/aggressive behavior were more likely in infancy to have witnessed low levels of family harmony
and a hostile competitive coparenting environment.
the preschool children rated high by
their teachers on a scale of anxious-fearful behavior were
more likely to have had in infancy a parent who was significantly under-involved.
husbands from families that worked
hard at promoting family harmony during the child's infancy
were more likely to indicate approval of their wives when talking with the preschool child
outside the mother's presence.
wives from families that demonstrated
a hostile-competitive family dynamic during the child's infancy were more likely to indicate disapproval of their husbands when
talking with the preschool child outside the father's presence.
preschool children relatively free
of behavior problems were more likely to have fathers who strove
to promote a strong sense of family and mothers who spoke positively to the child about
the father even when he was not around.
(2) Behavioral problems caused by child’s unresolved anger and frustration from living under the control of an HAP
Some children develop
behavior problems as a result of unresolved anger and frustration because of
being forced to live under the control of a hostile and controlling parent. Too often, family
courts place custody of the child in the hands of the wrong
parent who is often the HAP parent.
Too often, the non-custodial parent is rendered helpless to assist the children
and placed fully under the control of the custodial HAP parent. Children become angry and frustrated by the
efforts of the HAP parent to further interfere with their relationship with the non-custodial parent. This anger
and frustration develops into severe behavior problems which
affect them at school and at home.
caused by frustration and anger can only be effectively addressed when the children’s
wishes and preferences are considered and the children provided the opportunity to have a meaningful relationship with their non-custodial parent.
From an early age,
children need security and safety. A young child who does not feel safe and is exposed
to the behaviors of a hostile-aggressive
parent may have significantly elevated levels of anxiety.
This might show up in simple nervous behaviors (habits such as twirling hair or biting
or actually be seen in the development of phobias, panic disorders, and obsessive/compulsive disorders.
The anxiety that
the child exhibits may be associated with a particular person or environment,
or it may be more generalized with the child constantly feeling on edge or irritable.
Children may be
afraid to talk about summer holidays or about future parenting periods for fear of saying
something that may offend the custodial HAP parent.
Young children often use avoidance to cope with this kind
of anxiety or develop other symptoms such as nightmares, bed wetting, or physiological
symptoms such as headaches or stomach distress.
May be overly quiet and reserved
who is living under the primary control of a hostile-aggressive parent
is often threatened with punishment if they say something
about the parent’s Hostile-Aggressive Parenting. To protect
themselves from retribution by the HAP parent, children may become quiet, reserved and afraid to speak out about the HAP
The child will
find that by saying nothing, even if it means hiding abuse
against them, keeps them out of further trouble with their hostile-aggressive
parent. This type of behavior is not uncommon with
children under 12 years of age. Children raised in this kind of environment
often grow up lacking in self esteem and confidence and unable to compete in the working
Conflict with the HAP parent’s new partner
under the influence of an HAP parent may often experience difficulty with the HAP parent’s
new partner. Sometimes this may be due to a personality conflict, but in many cases the HAP parent’s new partner will often support the HAP parent’s alienating behavior
quite often as a result of the HAP parent having convinced
his/her new partner that the other parent is the problem.
It must be remembered
that HAP parents are masters of deception and one of the first things they do is
to convince all the persons they associate with that they are the “good” parent and the other parent the “bad” parent. New partners, acting only on information given
to them by the HAP parent, often in good faith, try to assist
the HAP parent by trying to assume the role of parent, rather than
The child knows
the truth but only sees the new partner taking sides with the HAP parent
which causes the child to be angry and defiant with the new partner as well. Often, conflict between an HAP parent’s new partner can have devastating effects of the dynamics within
the family, sometimes totally destroying the family unit.
In many cases,
children report being physically and emotionally abused
by the HAP parent’s new partner.
Bed wetting and sleep disorders
Some children adversely
affected by HAP parents may suffer from enuresis (bed wetting) with some affected children known to have wet their beds well beyond the time
when most children are toilet trained. Some children abused
by HAP parents have reported to have been still wetting their bed
even as old as eight or nine years of age.
May become defensive or fearful when
questioned about the hostile-aggressive parent’s
body language will give these kids away. When questioned during an interview about
the HAP parent, they may squirm, become easily distracted or use phrases such as “I don’t know” or “I want to go now” or “I don’t remember”
or “I don’t want to talk about it”.
Some children may forget things that the HAP parent has done that other children
or witnesses can clearly recall. Children under the primary
care and control of a hostile-aggressive parent will often learn
to say what the hostile-aggressive
parent wishes them to say while they hide the truth as well as their real
know that their HAP parent is trying to hide the truth and that the child
may be punished for telling the truth to others. Sometimes it is only the body language of these children that will give them away during an interview. May express to their teacher, a desire to share their school related work with their non-custodial parent or to ask for help contact the other parent.
Teachers at school,
especially elementary school, may be faced with situations that they find strange when
dealing with children being affected by a Hostile-Aggressive Parent.
Some of these situations may include:
Children in this
situation are wanting to share their accomplishments at school with their
non-custodial parent. Hostile-aggressive parents often will not
share a child’s work with the other parent and quite
often will destroy it out of spite.
child may tell the teacher that they don’t want a particular parent to be at the school.
child may ask school staff for help to use the phone to call their non-custodial parent.
or notes may reveal the child’s hidden feelings such as unhappiness, anger at one or both parents, wishes to live with one parent, etc.
The child may disclose information to
third parties about the behaviors of the HAP parent
A child may reveal
to third parties such as teachers and other family members, specific details of some
Hostile-Aggressive Parenting behaviors they have been exposed to.
Children will usually
have the courage to speak up between the ages of 7 to 14
years of age with a number of factors influencing when a
particular child may begin to speak up. Some of the most common things that children
may speak out about may include such things as one parent saying bad things about the other
parent or not being able to call the other parent on the phone.
The child may even
tell third parties that they want to live with their other
parent, rather than the one they live with now. This is a
sign that the child is reaching out for help from others and has not developed a total fear of the
parent as of yet. This situation must be handled delicately so as not to place the child at greater risk of abuse at the hand of the hostile-aggressive parent.
In most cases,
the hostile aggressive parent may punish the child for exposing things that the hostile-aggressive
parent was trying to keep a secret. Third parties
must demonstrate that the child can trust them by not turning them
back into the clutches of the HAP parent. The child may
show greater affection to a parent/guardian contrary to the claims of the
Hostile-aggressive parents will often attempt to paint a bad picture of the other parent/guardian to everyone they know so that they can turn others against that other person, often as
part of a strategy to isolate that person from others in
the community and to solicit the support of others to help isolate
the child from the other parent. This strategy is most often used by custodial parents to turn school officials and babysitters against the non-custodial parent.
Hostile-aggressive parents will often say that the
child’s relationship with the other parent is not good and that the child does better when he/she does not have contact with the other parent. This strategy is usually used when
children are younger as it becomes more difficult for the
HAP to continue these lies as the child becomes more aware
which is usually above the age of 7 years of age.
However, when given
the opportunity to see the child and the other parent together,
many in the community find that the child and the other
parent enjoy a loving relationship together, contrary to what they were told by the HAP
The child may indicate fear of reprisal of a parent for disclosing information
A child who lives
in a safe and secure environment, should never have a fear of telling the truth to anyone
about his/her living and or parenting environment. Should a child express a fear for their physical or emotional safety and indicate that they are fearful of one parent knowing about
them disclosing information, then this is another supporting
sign that the parent who the child is afraid of is an HAP
The child may show excessive animosity/fear/hate towards the non-custodial parent
In some severe
cases of Hostile-Aggressive Parenting, the hostile-aggressive parent may have been successful in implanting Parental Alienation in the child to the point where
the child may express severe animosity,
fear or even hate towards the non-custodial parent. In some cases, children will literally run away or hide should they accidentally meet the alienated
parent in public such as on a street or in a store.
This reaction in
children can be very misleading to those without knowledge of parental alienation and
the brainwashing of children by hostile-aggressive parents. To
those without knowledge, it could lead them to believe that
the non-custodial parent is actually a bad parent or has abused the child.
Persons who witness
a child, especially a young child speak very badly of another parent should consider
the possibility that the child may be the victim of brainwashing. It is not normal for ANY child to express strong animosity toward a parent without very clear and understandable reasons.
Should the child’s
animosity be directed towards a non-custodial parent, then this is usually further evidence
that the custodial parent may be responsible for the child’s hate of the other parent. When children are carefully questioned however for details of why they hate their parent
so much, that is when the truth usually starts to become
Seldom can children
provide specifics to why they feel the way they do and only
given general statements such as “ he/she used to hit me” or “he/she
was mean to me.”
can be suspected when interviewers start to ask for specifics
and the child’s recollection is vague or inconsistent. The pattern of the parent’s behaviors may also help one to determine if the child’s reaction is justified
or if this behaviour has been implanted in the child by
the custodial parent.
The child’s personality may change when the hostile-aggressive parent is present
A change in the
child’s personality toward one parent may be noticed when the child is in the presence
of both parents. Such a situation may occur at a school function where both parents attend.
Persons may notice that the child is very affectionate with one parent such as holding hands and appearing excited and happy. As soon as the hostile-aggressive
parent comes on the scene, the child will suddenly
stop showing their affection to the other parent.
The child recognizes
the power that the custodial parent wields over them and
in order to protect themselves, the child will hide the affection
they would normally give to the non-custodial parent because they know the custodial parent
will disapprove of this and may become angry.
May self inflict injuries or exhibit suicidal tendencies
It has been
reported that children have committed suicide while living under the influence of an HAP
A small number
of children become so depressed and distraught about not being able to
have a meaningful relationship with their other parent that they end up taking their own lives. Some children may cause physical injury to themselves such as cutting or burning themselves.
The presence of HAP parenting in any household affected
by divorce and/or separation must be carefully looked at
whenever children show symptoms of hurting themselves or have thoughts of doing
Often these children
are diagnosed by professionals as being suicidal, yet in many cases professionals
are unable to relate the child’s suicidal thoughts to the behaviors of the HAP parent because in many cases the HAP parent is able to appear to the professional as being a wonderful
and caring parent. The
child may produce notes and drawings indicating sadness living with the HAP parent
or indicating a desire to live with the non-custodial parent.
affected by an HAP parent may sometimes make drawings or write notes where they
express their sadness about the way they are being treated by an HAP parent. Sometimes they will write that they wished they were living with their other parent.
May show aggression
towards the custodial parent especially at times just after returning
back from parenting time with the non-custodial parent. A
common reaction seen in children living in the care of a HAP custodial parent is that the child may exhibit anger and hostility towards the custodial
parent when they return from the noncustodial parent’s
This, in a sense,
is one of the symptoms of reverse parental alienation where
the child begins to develop a distain or even a hatred of the HAP parent. Some children may fight, kick, spit and break things upon their return and generally be uncooperative with the
become angry because of being forced back into the care of a parent who they
know is not as nice as the other parent. Often this reaction is caused because the child does not get to spend enough time with the non-custodial parent as the custodial parent will
often do everything they can to keep time with the non-custodial
parent to a bare minimum.
What is important
to note is that in many cases, the HAP parent will claim that the aggression by the
child is caused by the non-custodial parent. The HAP parent will often report that this aggressive behavior is happening when the child returns or during the days following the child’s
return from the other parent’s home.
The HAP parent,
knowing that it is difficult to hide the children’s
behavioral problems blame the cause on the other parent in an attempt to hide their own abuse of the child. Often blaming the other parent is part of a well thought out strategy
to get the court to further restrict the child’s time
with the non-custodial parent and to further. Ultimately, this only
makes the child even angrier at the custodial parent.
May show signs of physical abuse
to the personality related observations, children who may be physically abused by an HAP
parent may exhibit a number of physical injuries such as:
a) Bruises or welts on their body or face (One should be especially concerned when bruises or welts would appear in various states of healing, in unusual patterns or clusters
which would reflect
the instrument or in multiple areas of the body);
b) Burns (cigar
or cigarette burns, glove or sock-like burns on extremities, doughnut-shaped burns on buttocks, or any burn that shows the shape of
the item used, such as an iron);
c) Bone fractures (spiral
fractures of long bones without a history of twisting force as the cause,
multiple fractures in various stages of healing, any fracture in a child under the age of two);
d) Internal injuries;
e) Lacerations and abrasions (especially around the mouth, lip, eye, or external genitalia);
f) Teeth marks from biting.
May lack self esteem and confidence
A child's sense
of self can be negatively impacted when living under the control of an HAP parent. Levels
of self-esteem (a child's positive view of him or herself) and appropriate self-confidence
(a child's realistic view of their capabilities) are crucial to the ongoing psychological
development and well-being of a child. When a parent or
guardian assaults the child’s self-esteem using hostile aggressive
this will negatively impact the child's developmental progress.
When a child has an impaired sense of self or a reduced sense of self-esteem,
they are often unable to cope with situations in which there
is increased stress. Exposure to HAP during developmental years can also
have an impact when children need to separate or become independent from others in later years. The child may be subject to separation anxiety disorder at a later time in life.
Later in the child's development the child may have difficulty in defining his/her
own boundaries or appreciating the needs and desires of
others in their environment. In addition, children raised in an environment
where he/she is being exposed to hostile-aggressive parenting may lack adequate self protectiveness and
may at greater risk of being victimized or exploited by others.
HAP parenting and its relationship to ADHD in children
Children being abused by an HAP parent often end up being
wrongly diagnosed as having ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).
because of the emotional abuse that HAP parents
inflict upon their children and the resulting behavior problems that result, many HAP parents
take their children to doctors and get prescription drugs such a Ritalin prescribed to modify their child’s behavior, especially those children who begin to rebel against the HAP
parent’s constant emotional and sometimes physical
drugs such as Ritalin are often turned into walking zombies
and become much more submissive to their HAP parent and easier to control
by the HAP parent. A significant number of children end up being misdiagnosed with ADHD
because the HAP parent does not disclose to the physician the true situation at home.
In most cases because the HAP parent is the custodial parent, the doctor
is prevented from speaking to the child’s other parent,
who in many cases could alert the doctor of the emotional abuse in the HAP parent’s
home. Most HAP parents who have their children prescribed drugs such as Ritalin, place blame
on the other parent or other factors, but never look at what their own HAP parenting is doing to their child.
parents will ignore the long term heath risks to the child because to them, only their interests are what is important, not the long term health of even their own child. For another
caring parent to be able to remedy the misdiagnosis it is
important the doctor be made aware of the HAP behaviors that
the child is being subjected to in the home of the HAP parent.
Once the child’s
doctor is made aware of the abuse that the child is being
subjected to, the doctor should ensure that no further medication
be prescribed to the child until such time as he/she is certain that the abusive behaviors that the child may be subjected to by the HAP parent have ended.
SEVERE CASES OF Hostile-Aggressive Parenting (HAP)
In the vast majority
of cases, effective legal approaches will eliminate or at the very least, effectively control emotional and physical harm to children caused by Hostile-Aggressive Parenting.
must be noted that in the vast majority of cases, the behavior of HAP parents will correct their behavior quickly once the watchful eye of the court or other specialists
from the community who have knowledge of HAP have been brought
into the case. One of the main problems is that in recent
years the courts have become too lenient when dealing with
hostile-aggressive behaviors with parents.
The courts failure
to sanction those parents who are abusive to their children
through HAP has actually resulted in a greater incidence of abuse against children caused by HAP. To effectively deal with Hostile-Aggressive Parenting, the courts
must apply positive motivators to reward parents for good parenting behavior as well as effective penalties to discourage Hostile-Aggressive Parenting.
a power balance between the HAP parent and
the other parent is one of first, most crucial steps in stopping HAP
behaviors as this allows the child to see that the HAP parent is no longer able to prevent the child from seeking meaningful help through the other parent (usually
the non-custodial parent).
who continue to expose their children to Hostile-Aggressive Parenting need to be warned by the court that if they do not end their hostile parenting
patterns, court sanctions will be imposed upon them, including
reversal of primary care or even custody of the child.
not only serve to "remind" the hostile
parent to cooperate and to behave in a civil manner, but are very useful
for the children as well. Effective sanctions set an example to the children and all family members that Hostile-Aggressive Parenting is not acceptable behavior to our society and that the courts will not tolerate it.
When a child feels
reassured that the system will protect him/her from their hostile-aggressive parent it will give
the child the courage to express their love to the more reasonable
parent and will ease the fear they might otherwise feel if they were to admit to the HAP parent that they themselves really want to see the other parent.
In such situations,
the child can say what they know they must to satisfy the hostile parent’s need to feel that the children love them more than the other parent but knowing at the same time that the hostile
parent must take them to see the other parent and that what
they say to the hostile-aggressive parent will not be somehow
used against the friendly parent.
Many times HAP
parents will pressure the child to say that they don’t
want to see the other parent. This of course is used as part of the strategy to justify what the child should not be seeing the other parent.
in most communities there are a number of biased social
workers and counselors who have no knowledge of HAP who will support the hostile-aggressive parent’s campaign to alienate the child from
the other parent. Some of these workers have a personal
background which has caused them to become biased.
It cannot be emphasized
strongly enough that one of most powerful incentives to get the hostile-aggressive parent to act in the best
interest of their child is through a collaborative approach from family,
the community and the courts. This is a very important factor in providing the children of separation and divorce with the support mechanism, outside of their parents, they so desperately
Children are often
afraid to express their wishes and preferences out of their fear of a custodial
HAP parent. Generally, children want a relationship with both parents and need the help of the courts and the community to ensure this without the children themselves, having to
Steps to intervene and effectively address Hostile-Aggressive Parenting
In all cases, identifying
an HAP parent is not meant to vilify any parent in the process,
nor should a person who has been identified as HAP be automatically deemed incapable of being a good parent.
of HAP is part of the process to clearly identify
what a parent is doing wrong and to clearly show what kind
of behaviors the parent is engaging in that is wrong. When it comes to HAP, it is not the past history of HAP that is the most important, but the ability and willingness of
the person(s) involved to correct their undesirable and
harmful HAP behavior and to work towards a more productive relationship with their child and with other members
of the child’s family.
In all cases, one
of the main purposes of the intervention process is to give all parties (usually both parents) the fair
and equal opportunity to correct their behavior during a process of education, while
at the same time provide relief to any children who may be adversely affected by HAP.
One main objective of the courts and those in the community when helping
families of separation and divorce should be to help make
all parents in the community the best parents possible, not to just vilify
those identified as problem parents based solely on their past history. Unfortunately, the current court process is far too focused on laying blame on one parent and then to make decisions
which punish one parent by making one parent less of a parent
than the other, often relegating that parent to the role
of being an “every other weekend” non-custodial parent.
During the intervention
process any parent/party identified as HAP should
feel reassured that their right to have a meaningful lifetime
relationship with their child will be assured should they demonstrate
their willingness and ability to act in the best interest of their child by correcting their HAP behavior.
Fairness and equal
opportunity must be ensured to parents during every step of the intervention
process as unfairness is one of the primary causes of conflict which in turn helps to fuel HAP behavior in
the first place.
arbitration or family group conferencing (Most Ideal situation if successful). Before the courts intervene in the parent’s dispute, at least one
of the parents should be able to show the court that a reasonable
attempt to resolve ongoing problems through some form of meditative or family
group conferencing approach was made prior to asking the court to intervene.
The courts should always be the option of last resort in settling disputes. To minimize
the potential for conflict or false allegations during mediation
or arbitration, communication should be done with the assistance
of at least one trained, neutral third party. Any attempts to enter into an out-of-court process prior to a dispute being taken to court should be monitored and documented by the
third parties who are familiar with the process and trained
to facilitate communication between the parents.
If mediation is
used as one of the processes, ideally “open” mediation is preferable as the mediator will be allowed to submit a report that may be helpful to the court in determining
the willingness of each parent to negotiate in good faith.
In most cases,
this first step is initiated by the friendly and cooperative party as they are the party who is adversely affected the most and the parent who most desires a solution to the
Hostile-Aggressive Parenting to be found.
The friendly parent, with the assistance of a third party, should make
a documented proposal to the other side which they feel will address the difficulties being created as a result of Hostile-Aggressive Parenting.
Generally, a parent
who initiates the mediation process, especially one who
is willing to involve themselves in an “open” mediation or conflict resolution
process, likely is the parent with the least to hide and the most willing to work in the best interest of the child. At this time, those involved with mediation or arbitration should explain
to both parents, the process of resolving the problems through
the court process should a voluntary agreement not be successful.
In many cases,
except in some severe cases, once a hostile-aggressive
parent sees that a fair a comprehensive review of
matters will be undertaken by the court and that this is going to create nothing
but expense and inconvenience to them, they may at this point elect to become a willing participant to a process that will avoid court. For those remaining parents who are unable
to reach a reasonable agreement because of the resistance
of a hostile-aggressive parent, then the process of dealing with the situation should move on to step two.
It is important,
however, that the parents, especially the
hostile-aggressive parent, know that the Court will not
be tolerant of Hostile-Aggressive Parenting behavior and
that it will take the effective steps as outlined below to deal with
it. The purpose is to motivate parents to settle matters fairly between themselves without intervention of the court.
Family group conferencing
approach to resolve HAP. Early in the process during or after mediation has been attempted, as many of the family
members and friends of the family should be contacted and
asked to participate in a family group conference (FGC).
Family group conferencing can be very effective because in the vast majority of cases, parents
using hostile-aggressive techniques do not want others in the
community, especially their family and friends to see what
they are doing or for others to see the true facts.
In most cased,
will modify or improve their parenting if they feel that there is a chance that others will see the truth. As a result of fear of the truth being exposed, these parents will modify
their behavior if they feel that others in the community,
especially family members, take a direct interest in their family
matter. The modification of the parenting style by an otherwise abusive parent through community
and family involvement uses the age old concept of “it takes a village to raise a child”.
This approach to
resolving family relationship problems can be a powerful influence on parents and extended
family members. Family group conferencing (FGC) is a participatory
approach to case planning that was originally developed
by the Maori people of New Zealand, in response to concerns that the child welfare system
was removing Maori children from their homes and cultural ties at a disproportional rate.
Based upon the
success of this approach in New Zealand, FGC has been utilized as a case planning approach
in many other countries and is spreading to many countries and jurisdictions. An underlying
philosophy of the FGC model is that extended families have the commitment, resources and
capacity to create safe and caring plans for children within their family unit.
Family group conferencing can be extremely effective in dealing with Hostile-Aggressive Parenting. Studies show
that FGCs engage more family members than other case-planning methods, result in high
degrees of family and professional satisfaction, and expand the quality of support available to families who have participated (for a review, see Lupton,
Findings from child
welfare studies where there was not a FGC provide
support for the importance of active family involvement. Gleeson
et al (1997), for example, found that an absence of active family involvement in case planning and decision-making can create a barrier to achieving permanence.
It has been found
that FGCs did a better job than regular case planning approaches in promoting family
unity, increasing safety for all family members, and reducing reports of child maltreatment and domestic violence. The study found that overall levels of abuse and violence had decreased
significantly for the families using FGC approach.
Although the actual
process of facilitating a family group conferencing process is not described in this
document, using the process of family group conferencing as a first step in resolving issues relating to Hostile-Aggressive Parenting can have significant impact in the elimination of child abuse and maltreatment by HAP
Another tool that
can be helpful is the appointment of a parent mentor. A
parent mentor is another parent in the community who has a successful track record
of raising children and who volunteers his/her time to help other parents in parenting their children.
Implement first stage of intervention
plan for family. Quite often the HAP parent will refuse to participate in mediation or any other process intended to resolve conflict. They know that by entering any kind of process that
involves others in the process, that their hostile-aggressive behavior may be exposed and that this will likely disadvantage
them in the court. Hostile-Aggressive Parents will sometimes give lip service in an attempt to sway those involved to their line of thinking, but they are seldom successful providing those
involved are properly trained.
In some cases, lawyers representing
hostile-aggressive parents may advise their clients not to participate in mediation or family group conferencing, or if anything,
to pay lip service to alternate processes so that their
client does not look uncooperative to the court. A lawyer representing
an HAP parent may argue that he/she has a legal
obligation to help protect the hostile aggressive parent by helping to hide the Hostile-Aggressive Parenting from the court or from any outside
parties which places them in a conflict with the best interest of the child.
If the more friendly
parent has demonstrated that they have attempted to resolve issues through a reasonable
process but that because of the response of the hostile-aggressive
parent this has failed, then the court at this time
must provide whatever support it can to help the parent most willing to participate
in a process intended to reduce conflict.
This would be accomplished
by ordering both parents into a program or process specifically
designed to end or effectively control the Hostile-Aggressive Parenting. It is important
that both parties be ordered to participate in any program or process
so as not label one parent as all “bad” and the other parent as all “good.”
The process of
dealing with Hostile-Aggressive Parenting should equally involve BOTH parents as it is a matter of education which ultimately will benefit both parties and any child of the relationship.
Ordering the non-cooperative parent or HAP parent to attend a family group conferencing session and providing the authority for the family group to provide recommendations
to the court can be very effective and powerful tool to
First stage interim court
Order to implement provisions below (if required)
The court should
provide a court order ordering the following to be implemented and completed within
a) Have the family
support group meet and submit recommendations (optional) To provide valuable input from the family, a family group conference should be organized
with the family providing its recommendations to the court
to resolve the conflict.
The concept of family group conferencing is somewhat new and its use will
depend on the availability of trained facilitators in the
area and the ability of the parents to gather a group of
family members and willing supporters. Input regarding the child’s wishes and preferences
should be provided by the child to the family group at the conference.
adjustment of parenting schedules to minimize damage to child caused by Hostile-Aggressive Parenting
To prevent any
further chance of the child being emotionally damaged by the hostile
the parenting schedules should be modified to promote greater influence of
involvement of the non hostile-aggressive
parent in the child’s life and lesser influence of
the HAP parent.
If one of the parents
can put forth reasonable arguments to show that this adjustment
of the parenting times may be of benefit to the child, then the court should approve
such a schedule as an interim measure.
c) Review of parenting history and parenting
capabilities. Before the court gets involved in making any
decisions relating to the most effective steps to eliminate
problems between parents caused by Hostile-Aggressive Parenting behavior, it
is important that a thorough review of the parent’s parenting patterns as part of a formal family evaluation process be undertaken. This evaluation process should include an
analysis of the parent’s past behaviour as it relates
to the best interest of children and the rights of children
in order to determine the suitability and capability of both parents to parent
their own child.
d) Submission of parenting plans by parents
During the time
that a formal assessment is being undertaken, both parents should prepare a comprehensive
parenting plan which they feel is most suitable for the child. Each parent’s parenting
plan will be reviewed as part of the assessment process for the purpose of determining
which parenting plan is best for the child. Parents should be encouraged to obtain
help from competent third parties to complete their parenting plans.
Some of this help could come from attending parenting education courses.
of a neutral third party to assist the family and monitor their ongoing progress
and report to the court.
The court should
order the involvement of third parties (family coordinator, parent referee, etc.) to be part of
a two person monitoring team. It will be the job of this team to help deal with
any problems and to provide solutions to the parents to resolve any problems encountered.
It will also be the responsibility of this family support team to report to the court
any behavior considered relevant to the best interest of the child.
Persons on this
team can also be given the responsibility of reviewing the
past history of the parents as outlined in (b) as well as
all mitigating factors relating to children. At least one
person of the monitoring team should be knowledgeable about the identifying signs
of Hostile-Aggressive Parenting behavior as well as Parental Alienation and Parental Alienation Syndrome.f)
Any parent who
has engaged in Hostile-Aggressive Parenting behavior should be ordered by
the court to attend at least one course specifically about teaching parents how to parent cooperatively and how to best understand what is in the best interest of their children. It
is recommended that both parents attend such education so
that even the parent who may not be considered as HAP, will be familiar with all aspects of good parenting.
Having both parents
attend also removes the stigma of one parent being considered the “bad” parent.g
or anger management counseling(* Optional)
be ordered to obtain professional help to deal with their behavior problem when
reasonable evidence would suggest that a parent may be exhibiting behavior patterns that
would be considered in the “severe” category of Hostile-Aggressive Parenting.
In the event that
one or both parents behavior involved intense anger, violence or unacceptable
levels of abuse, then the parents responsible for this more serious form of abuse
should be required to attend and complete anger management courses.
h) Evaluation of parenting plans
The parenting plans
submitted by the parents should be reviewed by independent third party persons
or agencies, having the specific training to properly review and evaluate such documents.
Based on a review of all the factors relating to the best interest of the child this evaluation
should clearly state which of the two parenting plans best meets the best interest of
Reasons for determination
must also be clearly provided for the court and the parties
to review. The purpose is to ensure that where more than one parenting plan has been
made available, that only the one that best satisfies the criteria considered relevant to the best interest of the child be used. Once
the court has ordered the above components, in the vast majority of cases, the hostile
aggressive parent will
modify their parenting behavior in a positive direction.
Early and effective
intervention by the court could eliminate further emotional
damage to the child and motivate the hostile aggressive parent to focus on positive parenting skills.
Implement second stage interim court order (90-120
When the components
(a) to (g) of Step Two have been completed, the next step will be to have the parties
come back to court to update the court on all of the requirements that were set down in step one. The court will now have reasonable evidence before it so that a realistic and effective
court Order can be crafted.
There is a good
possibility by this time that the Hostile-Aggressive Parent has curtailed
much of their destructive behavior as they now are conscience of the fact that a continuation
of their Hostile-Aggressive Parenting behavior will likely result in sanctions against them by the court.
Again, many of
the hostile parents will be willing to settle at this point with only the very extreme and most contested cases left unresolved. At this time, should a voluntary consent agreement be reached between the parties,
then the Court should order that the one parenting plan
which has was previously identified as being most child focussed
become the current parenting arrangement ordered by the court.
Ideally, the most
suitable parenting plan should include an interim joint
custody arrangement and meet all of the minimum criteria
for the best interest of the child.
Third stage final court orderAfter the interim period has expired as stated in the court Order from
step three, the matter will be brought back to court for
a final determination of parenting arrangements. A second review of the family’s
compliance to the previous court Order will be made by the third party team and a final report with recommendations will be submitted to the court.
This may also include a revised
parenting plan which may address any others issues not previously
identified at Step Two of the process.
In most cases,
the final court order will be just a formality with the court being asked to endorse a final
consent order based on the most current recommendations of the family’s monitoring team. Quite often this can be dealt with by the parent’s solicitors or agents without
the parents even having to attend court in person. In only
a few rare situations will the court be required to significantly
change any of the provisions of the previous court order and this will be in cases where the hostile-aggressive parent
continues to disobey the court and to continue with their pattern of abuse.
Those parents who
demonstrate this level of defiance most likely have deep-seated emotional
or mental problems which may make them unsuitable as primary caregiver to the child.
At this point it
may be necessary for the court to impose sanctions on the hostile-aggressive
parent which may even include awarding sole custody
to the friendly parent or giving the friendly parent enough
control over the child’s environment so as to lesson the impact of the hostile-aggressive
on the child. Should matters reach this stage, however, the court will have very reliable
evidence before it, including recommendations which will make the court’s final order a rather simple matter.
Collaborative Community-Based Support Strategies
Hostile-Aggressive Parents generally try to keep their pattern of behaviour from being noticed by friends and others in the community. Most of the time they know that
what they are doing to their children is wrong and do not
want to be embarrassed for what they know most people in the community
would consider to be bad behavior.
These HAP parents continuously hide the truth behind a wall of deception and over a period of time become quite skilled at
deceiving others. Often HAP parents may threaten and intimidate children to remain silent about abuse, causing children to be terrified of saying anything about their abusive parent’s
Members of the
community can play a vital role in eliminating the harm done by hostile-aggressive
parents. By learning
to identify the presence of HAP and refusing to
participate in a hostile aggressive parent’s campaign of abuse against a child,
they are helping to protect that child and helping to make
the community a better place for all to live.
Schools, child care agencies
and their workers
Schools and child
care agencies are in the front line when it comes to dealing with the problems associated
with families in conflict as a result of separation and divorce. Many teachers and school officials will undoubtedly have to deal with children from broken homes where parental conflict
Through their extensive
day-to-day involvement with children, teachers and early childhood educators
may often be in a position where they are exposed to the behavior of hostile-aggressive
parents or may observe
the effects of HAP with children they teach or care
Quite often, HAP parents will attempt to drag the school into the conflict
and will try to get the school to take sides against the
wishes and preferences of the child. At any time, should a parent request
school officials to take an action that would appear to contradict a child’s reasonable wishes and preferences, the school should become highly suspicious of this request.
should perceive the school as a safe haven for them where they are free from parents harassing or intimidating them while on school property. If a child indicates that they do not
feel comfortable with a particular parent coming to the
school and there would appear to be reasonable reason for this,
then school officials should respect the child’s wishes by keeping that parent from coming on school property.
Schools and day
care facilities need to have appropriate policies regarding children who are being exposed
to abuse by a HAP parent. Schools should also develop
protocols when abuse by an HAP parent is suspected.
Some of the things
that schools and child care agencies and their workers can do to help protect children
are as follows:
a. Ensure that all workers working with children
are educated about Hostile-Aggressive Parenting and its solutions
as part of their training.
b. Before accepting children into a child daycare
facility, providers should ideally meet both parents before
agreeing to provide day care services or at the very least provide both parents the
equal opportunity to meet with providers. Make parents aware right up front that there will
be no discrimination against either parent.
c. At all times, schools and day care facilities
should provide both parents with the same level of service,
courtesy and access to information unless a clear court Order indicates otherwise.
Schools especially, should be wary of discriminating
against parents as this may violate constitutional laws
and result in an expensive and messy lawsuit. Schools and daycare facilities
must send a clear message to those children affected by separation and divorce that schools
and daycare facilities are a safe place for children and that Hostile-Aggressive Parenting behavior will
not be tolerated.
d. School officials should be willing to speak to
the child and to be aware of the child’s wishes and
preferences if requested to do so. Quite often, children will report abuse to teachers they
trust before they will report it to strangers such as child welfare protection workers.
Again, school officials must consider the possibility
of parental coaching of young children and interview children
outside the presence of either of the parents. Children who have not been
coached should be able to clearly articulate their wishes and preferences and provide clear
reasons to support their wishes.
e. Never interfere with one parent’s access
to services based on the word of only one parent. Should
one parent try to interfere with the child’s relationship with another parent or with one parent’s relationship with the school or day care facility or any worker, then insist
that the parent present a court order requires the school
or day care facility to comply with these demands or at
the very least, provide reasonable third party information, in writing, to support
the parent’s claims.
Claims by HAP parents often begin to fall apart when they are asked
for credible evidence to support their claims.
f. In all cases where parents are requesting school
officials to take some form of action which they claim is
to protect the child, then some sort of evidence, in writing, should be provided to
school officials to support a parent’s requests. If a parent’s complaints appear to be valid, then that parent should have no problem in obtaining a court Order in a reasonable
period of time.
Refuse to become a collaborator to child abuse by
not being a part of a parent’s campaign to abuse the
child and/or the other parent unless the parent can provide you with evidence,
in writing, to support their allegations.
g. Studies show that the involvement of non-custodial
parents in their child’s education can have a positive
impact on the child’s learning experience at the school so parental involvement
at school should be encouraged whenever possible. The best interest of the child
must take president over the wishes of a hostile-aggressive parent
who in most cases want to keep the other parent from involving
themselves with the child’s school.
h. At the first sign of conflict between parents,
insist that the parties use a neutral third party for communication.
Insist that parents not involve teachers or daycare providers in their personal
issues and instead have parents use a neutral third party appointed to deal with issues
The third party can then communicate with school
or daycare facility regarding any issues which may affect
workers with these agencies. Should a parent not be willing
to have a third party get involved then suspect that parent’s motives.
parents generally want to have full control of the situation
and generally do not want neutral third parties helping
in the conflict.
i. Have those working with the children maintain
proper records and logs whenever hostile
is observed or if the child exhibits signs that could indicate abuse.
Such signs may be the child’s sadness about not seeing
one parent or about reporting abuse by a hostile parent. Remember, Hostile-Aggressive Parenting is child abuse and will likely affect
the child in some manner at school.
j. Be ready and willing to report Hostile-Aggressive Parenting and to provide reliable testimony
to the court if be requested by the parents. Exposing HAP
parents and supporting children who are victims of the actions
of HAP parents is one of the best ways to control
and eliminate this serious form of child abuse.
Extended family, friends and community
too often, friends and family tend to support those who are part of their family or group
of friends without questioning how their support for the parent they know may be affecting the child. This approach can often be wrong and have devastating negative effect on a child.
Many times, family members end up supporting the HAP parent without knowing it.
and neighbors should be cautious in believing negative comments from one parent about
the other, even if it is their own family member who is giving them information. People in the community whose support is being sought by a parent should take the time to make themselves
of the issues before providing their blind support.
They should be
especially cautious when it would appear that their support
is sought to support what are considered as Hostile-Aggressive Parenting behaviors by one of the parents
such as trying to restrict the child’s access to the other parent.
If it would appear that any parent is exhibiting any of the HAP
behaviors listed in this document, then extreme caution
must be exercised in supporting this parent.
People in the community must do what is right for the child and to be careful not to cause further harm to the child by providing support to the HAP parent. When extended family members and other people in a community refuse to
support parents who abuse their children through HAP behaviors, then those parents harming
their child by HAP will more
than likely change the way they parent their children.
The concept that,
“it takes a village to raise a child” is still a concept that has worked for many generations in the past and still works today. A community that stands united against Hostile-Aggressive
Parenting, will help to send a strong message to
parents who may be harming their children that this is not acceptable behavior.
Only when the community
stands up can we hope to eliminate this most serious form of child abuse.
Health care professionals
Health care professionals
in the community such as doctors and nurses should be very careful that they
do get themselves involved in the hostilities in a manner that hurts the child. Hostile aggressive parents will often present themselves
quite well to professionals such as doctors, nurses, police
officers, etc. and are often masters of deception.
parents will often feed misleading and one-sided information
to health care professionals for the purpose of extracting opinion or recommendation
letters from these professionals which favor the HAP
parent’s position in court. Often the HAP parent will use these letters to block the other parent’s
access time with the child or use the letters in court against the other parent at
some time in the future. In most cases, however, when professionals
do look into matters more closely and seek information from the other side before
writing such letters, they find that they have been duped by the HAP
Under such circumstances, many professionals can find themselves the subject of
a disciplinary hearing or civil lawsuit. Any professional
who is requesting by a parent to support any action which would be appear
to be a hostile-aggressive action or a violation of the child's rights, should carefully and fully review the circumstances
before taking action for one parent.
Taking the time
to speak to the other parent is usually one of the best
things to do to protect both the professional and the child who may be under the control of a HAP parent. Police and child welfare protection workers Law enforcement and child welfare protection agencies in the community must also very careful that
they do not involve themselves in a manner that end up hurting the child and benefiting the HAP parent.
Failure to identify
and effectively deal with an HAP parent can have
a devastating effect on the child.
parents will often attempt to use the police or child welfare protection agencies as a tool in their campaign
to destroy their child's relationship with the other parent. The most common thing that
an HAP parent will do to involve the police or child welfare protection agencies will be to allege that the
other parent has assaulted, stalked or threatened them or has physically or sexually assaulted
The HAP parent tries to get police to lay charges as once charges are laid,
then the court or child welfare protection workers will likely prevent the other parent from having contact
with the child. Even if the parent is found innocent, the effect that the HAP
parent wanted would have been achieved.
parents are masterminds of deception and can often spin a good story
when it comes to making false allegations against their former partner. The problem is that with the Zero Tolerance policies in many areas, the false allegations often achieve the desired
result of interfering with the child's relationship with the other parent for a long period of time.
Police and child welfare protection agencies must be very diligent in investigating such allegations and
to see if the behaviors of the accuser categorize them as an HAP
parent, then police should be very careful to get involved
unless there is clear and convincing evidence that would show that the allegations
Police and child welfare protection agencies should carefully interview all collateral witnessed and should never lay charges or take a child away from one of the parents based
on just the allegations of the accuser. Allegations must be supported by reasonable collateral evidence.
Failure by authorities
to properly investigate allegations made by HAP
parents will ultimately result in the loss of respect of
the authorities by people in the community. Children who have had their relationship damaged by the HAP parent with the help of local authorities will likely grow up with
a strong dislike of local authorities.
This is not good
for these agencies which rely on support from the community.
Agencies should encourage the involvement of other family member using “Family
Group Conferencing” strategies before using the criminal justice system to intervene in these types of family matters when the risk to a child may be small, however, where serious risk to a child may be a potential possibility, or where a child is expressing fear and anxiety of the HAP parent, authorities must move quickly to remove the child for an interim period of time from the care and control of the HAP parent.
Sanctions for Hostile-Aggressive Parenting
Generally, it is recommend
that the first level of such sanctions be an adjustment of the child's parenting time to lesson the amount of time the child is being exposed to the behavior of the parent who has
been identified as being hostile-aggressive.
Being exposed to the influence
of a hostile aggressive parent is not healthy for the child and so the child's exposure to this negative influence must be lessened whenever
circumstances permit.. Lessening the amount of time that the child spends with the hostile-aggressive
parent will also provide relief to the child and reassurance that the hostile-aggressive parent’s behavior is wrong and will not be
tolerated by others, especially the authorities.
Seldom will any
parent want to have their parenting time significantly reduced, especially if it is to be
less than the other parent’s time. Often, when faced with the choice of either improving their parenting behaviors or losing time, even the most hostile
of parents will modify their behavior rather than risk losing
some of their parenting time with the child. Adjusting parenting time is a powerful motivator to better
parenting and must be used liberally where the other parent is capable of
caring for the child a greater period of the time.
Where parents live
close enough to each other to accommodate the child at the same school, parenting time should be moved to a
50% equal time share providing the HAP parent is
not exhibiting too many of the behaviors considered in the
“severe” category in which case, the HAP
parent’s time may have to be reduced to less than
time maintains equality and fairness between parents and
for the child which will help to reduce conflict and also give the child a more time away from the HAP parent.
If simply reducing
time with the hostile-aggressive parent
does not serve to improve the situation then the hostile parent should be ordered to undergo psychological testing, cooperative parenting courses and if anger is a problem, anger management courses. Ordering the parent to
provide community work or to make a financial contribution
to a worthy cause in the community can also serve as an
effective sanction as well as a positive motivator to change their behavior.
If the simple sanctions
listed above do not serve to bring about more reasonable parenting attitude/behaviors,
then mental health problems should be suspected and the hostile-aggressive
time with the child further reduced as part of a strategy to protect the child from further emotional harm. An analysis of the HAP behaviors listed in this document as well as the additional risk indicators should give some guidance as to parenting abilities of the
who exhibit behaviors that fall into the category of “severe” may have mental heath problems and should be diagnosed by a competent mental health professional.Circumstances which warrant removal of the custodial rights (sole or joint custody) and responsibilities of the primary guardianship of a Hostile-Aggressive Parent.
The rights of the
child to have the equal protection and enjoyment of both parents must be regarded as
one of the fundamental rights of the child. Parental rights and responsibilities automatically flow when
the child's rights are protected by the parents. Treating a child's care and protection by both of his/her parents as a fundamental
right requires the presumption of joint legal custody by both parents
in reasonable situations.
The right of a
child to be raised and protected by two parents is fundamental
and falls within the security interest of the child and under the equal protection of the law as defined under
the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
rights are neither absolute nor are they unlimited. Parental rights are not absolute
in a sense in that they may be overridden by other considerations such as the presence of HAP behaviors shown
to be harmful to the child. In a sense, parental rights are fiduciary rights in that
the parent must exercise their parental rights and responsibilities in the best interest of the child.
Case Law from the
Supreme Court of Canada reinforces the most basic concept that parents must act
in a manner consistent with their child's best interest and rights or potentially lose their custodial and
parenting rights once they have passed over the threshold of what would separate a “fit” parent from an “unfit” parent.
In some cases,
the parental rights and responsibilities of an HAP
parent may have to be taken away completely and given conditionally
on an interim or permanent basis to the parent who is identified as
being the friendly or non HAP parent. The rights
and responsibilities of the HAP parent must be taken away in situations where clear and convincing evidence exists to
suggest that continued sole or joint legal custody
of the child by the HAP parent may be harmful to the child or where the HAP parent is not fulfilling their fiduciary responsibility to parent the child in a manner that is consistent to the child's best interest.
In situations where
HAP is a serious problem between parents, it is
important that the child be placed in an environment where the child is as free from the influence of HAP parenting as much as possible.
Under such circumstances,
the HAP parent would be considered as being an unfit parent and unable to carry out his/her fiduciary responsibilities
to the child. In some cases where both parents may be considered as being unfit, custody of the child may have to be taken from both parents and given to other
family members or to a child protection agency should extended family members not be
able to provide interim care for the child.
The sole custodial
rights and responsibilities of a parent or the primary guardianship of a parent should
be removed on a conditional and limited basis when reasonable and probable evidence would
suggest any of the following:
The HAP parent has coached, attempted to coach or has used
threats, intimidation or terror to make the child to provide false or misleading information to authorities.
The HAP parent has physically harmed the child or has failed to take adequate steps to protect
the child from being physically abused by others while under his/her care.
The HAP parent has brazenly denied the other parent’s
access to the child in violation to a valid court Order or signed
The HAP parent has threatened the child with the use of physical force beyond that considered
reasonable as parental discipline.The HAP parent
has threatened or is planning to kidnap or to take the child out of the country, province or state against the
reasonable wishes of the other parent or against the
reasonable wishes of the child.
evidence would indicate that the HAP parent may
be preparing to relocate the child without the consent of the other parent and without evaluating all of the factors
that would be considered in the best interest of the child under any of the following situations:
a) Relocation of
the child would require the parents to move legal matters to a new court
b) Relocation of
the child would required that the child attend school in another school district.
c) Relocation of
the child would require that the parents drive more than an additional
30 minutes combined by automobile in order to physically exchange the child between one residence and the other.
The child is showing the early signs of parental alienation syndrome.
The child has inflicting injuries upon himself/herself or has attempted injury to himself/herself
and the influence of the HAP parents is suspected
to be the cause of the child's self destructive behavior.
The child is expressing a fear for his/her physical or emotional safety while in the care of the HAP parent.
The HAP parent has exposed the child to dangerous or highly undesirable environment such
as drugs, alcohol, criminal activity or domestic violence in the home
and the potential exists for this environment to continue.
The child is expressing a strong desire to not live under the primary control of a parent and where reasonable evidence would suggest that the parent who the child does not want to live under the control of is engaging
in HAP behaviors and/or other poor parenting practices and other forms of child maltreatment.
The child is expressing a strong desire to live with the parent considered to be the non HAP parent and current
reasonable evidence would support this to be in the child's best interest.
and more reasonable parent, of course, would be expected to adequately provide for all of the child's emotional and physical needs while in his/her care. Placing a child in the care of the friendlier parent gives the child a needed break from the emotional abuse of the HAP
parent and helps to build the child's confidence in the justice system by allowing the child to see that the system will help him/her and that the justice
system will do what is truly in the best interest of the child and not the HAP parent.
In all cases, however,
sanctions against the HAP parent, based on past
behavior, should be removed once the HAP parent has been able to successfully demonstrate his/her willingness
and ability to parent the child in a normal, healthy and positive manner. Joint legal custody should be restored
as soon as possible after the HAP parent is no longer
considered a source of harm to the child through HAP behavior.
The simple and
effective approach to correct Hostile-Aggressive Parenting can be highly effective in
the vast majority of cases. The advantages of the approach outlined in this article can be summarized as follows:
approach is simple and the steps to implement the process are consistent in every case.
results are highly predictable.
results provide maximum recognition and support to the criteria considered relevant to the best interest of children.
effective – minimal use of courts, legal and health care systems. Much of the implementation and monitoring of the system can be done by lower paid trained specialists
from the community, rather than highly paid professionals.
Fairness and equality is ensured at all steps of the process.
balance and consideration to parental rights, children's rights and all elements of law and the principles
of fundamental justice.
and time tested principles of the use of “consequences” for unacceptable behavior are applied. Parties who behave in a hostile manner will be penalized and those who foster cooperative
behavior, rewarded. Maximum use of positive motivators is promoted throughout the process to foster cooperative
of early intervention in dealing with Hostile-Aggressive Parenting cannot be emphasized
enough. Not to do so is likely to result in a worsening of the conditions that will predictably
cause significant long term psychiatric disturbances in the child affected, with the possibility that parental alienation will take hold of the child.
In most cases it
is recommended that both parents have the opportunity of sharing in the parenting of their children on an equal and consistent basis with an outside, neutral party monitoring the parents
during an adjustment period. It is only when one parent cannot, or will not, inhibit his/her Hostile-Aggressive Parenting that custodial transfer to the more friendly parent should be implemented.
coupled with the support of the community can be instrumental in preventing
progressively more pathological levels of HAP and even greater
levels of emotional and behavioral problems in the children. Only in the most severe of cases should sole custody ever have
to be awarded to one parent.
The presence and
severity of Hostile-Aggressive Parenting (HAP) is only one of the factors in determining what is in the best interest of the child, but it must be noted that it is one of more significant
factors to be taken into consideration. While other factors must also be considered, effectively
dealing with Hostile-Aggressive Parenting is crucial if one is to make proper recommendations
concerning the parenting arrangements in families where this very serious form of child abuse and maltreatment is a factor.
source site: click here
But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in
me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of
the sea. “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by
whom the temptation comes!
my personal truth
by kathleen howe april 13, 2009
I'm not sure where to begin in explaining how I experienced hostile aggressive parenting,
but I can tell you what I am sure of. For several years, all I had to do was think of one of my children who weren't with
me and were with their fathers and I would break down, become unable to function at all, and most of the time experience extremely
intense panic attacks. I had a pain in my solar plexus worse than the pain from childbirth and it lasted for hours, not minutes.
I'm sure that when I found the information in the left hand column, I was mesmerized - as
the more I read, the more I knew I had experienced it and it just kept going on and on and on... being more and more familiar.
Years after experiencing these behaviors and situations I am still traumatized. So I will
write here daily until I've recalled it all for you. I want you to know that I understand what you're going through if you're
experiencing hostile aggressive parenting from an ex spouse or even parental alienation. I know your pain.
april 14, 2009
Yes, I experienced dealing with a HAP parent who was my ex-husband - twice over though. Both
men I had children with ended up ganging up on me together although they had been arch enemies while I was married. Two men,
one so hateful that he continually said extremely bad things to my two girls about me. His wife was just as caustic. She couldn't
get along with my oldest daughter as they vied for his attention constantly. She kicked my oldest daughter out of their house
in her junior year of high school. I had no way to get in touch with her when I eventually found out it happened.
That's the first part of the story. The second part became my very horrific truth when my
best friend decided she wanted my husband and then she vowed to steal my son as well. I honestly believe that between she
and he (he was an abusive spouse who was a police officer) it was inevitable that I would be fighting for my own life never
mind the custody of a child. My son, I only had one child in that 8 year marriage because my husband had a vasectomy immediately
after I gave birth to him even though he had no other children. Our marriage was a farce from the beginning because when we
separated and I was desperate for money - I took my engagement ring to the jewelers to find out how much I could get for it
and the jeweler took off his lens and rubbed his forehead and said, "My dear... I can't even give you five dollars for this
ring... it's a fake and not a very good one either."