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Aggressive Hostile Parenting Vs. Parental Alienation Syndrome.

Updated on June 19, 2013

Hostile Aggressive Parenting. What is it?

Hostile Aggressive Parenting or HAP for short, seems to be a fairly new idea and one that not many people know about. HAP is identical to Parental Alienation Syndrome(PAS) HAP is defined as the actions and choices of the alienating parent before PAS starts. HAP has almost all of the same symptoms as PAS. Social Scientists draw a line between the two. Hostile parenting is a pattern of behavior that leads to the psychological condition known as Parental Alienation Syndrome. Children who are the victims of Parental Alienation develop an unjustified deep seated dislike or hatred for the targeted parent. Hostile Aggressive Parenting and Parental Alienation Syndrome are serious forms of psychological maltreatment and child abuse. HAP and PAS are found mostly in individuals with bullying personalities or individuals with moderate-severe personality disorders. HAP seems to be more common in sole custody situations, with the majority of sole custody parents being mother's-85%-95% of custodial parents are mothers. Research has shown that mothers are more likely to practice HAP/PAS than fathers. Research has revealed the following stats:

  • Children who live with only their mothers are nine times more likely to have conflict with their mothers rather than if they lived with only their father.
  • Children are more than twice as likely to have no contact with their other parent if they lived with their mother.
  • Children living with their father felt positively about their mother while the children living with their mother were more likely to feel negative about their father.
  • Mothers are five times more likely to bad mouth the father than fathers about the mother.
  • In cases of PAS, the mother is more favored in court and it is the fathers who are denigrated.
  • When the mother and father had an equal income, the children showed to do better when living full time with the father rather than the mother full time.
  • 42% of children said that their mother tried to prevent them from seeing their father after divorce or separation. 16% said their father tried to prevent them from seeing their mother.
  • In relation to perpetrators of child abuse and maltreatment, 40.3% of children who were abused, were abused by their mother who acted alone.

Generally, parents who practice HAP/PAS have not moved on with their own life and remain controlled by their negative emotions towards their ex spouses parenting, and in extent, remain in control over their children's lives as well. Most HAP parents do not see their child as an individual, but rather see them as a possession and use their children as a tool to hurt the other parent.Hostile Aggressive Parenting is mostly found in child custody disputes. Hostile parenting is often used as a tool to align the child with one parent during litigation over custody or control of the child, while attempting to alienate the "target" parent, which is usually the father.

What causes a parent to become hostile?

There are many reasons why a parent would engage in HAP. Some research has shown that it boils down to the parents feelings toward the other spouse. Some parents use it because of anger towards the other parent. The HAP parent may feel like they were wronged in the relationship and by using the child to hurt the other parent, this is their revenge. Some parents use it because of jealousy. Some parents may feel insecure of their own parenting or they may worry that their relationship with their child is not as strong as the relationship between their ex spouse and their child and they use HAP as a way to align the child with them to make themselves feel more secure. Someone I know used to use her child as a tool to gain power over the father. The mother had significantly more time with their child and would use the child as a tool to keep control over the father. Some parents may suffer from a mental disorder such as Borderline Personality Disorder or Antisocial Personality disorder. No matter the reason for the alienation attempts, interfering in a child's relationship with the other parent for no good reason is wrong and is considered child abuse.

The effects on the child.

Neurodevelopmental research done by Glaser;2000, Schwartz and Perry;1994 suggested that child abuse and maltreatment through their parents HAP behaviors can have lasting effects on a child's cognitive, emotional, and interpersonal relationships that last a lifetime. Children living with a HAP parent may also begin to behave in an aggressive manner because they feel this behavior is normal and acceptable. A child who is abused or yelled at constantly may begin to handle difficulties by yelling themselves.

A child may develop anxiety such as hair twirling or nail biting. All children need to feel safe and secure and when they don't they become anxious and nervous and may begin to show signs of anxiety. A child may become overly quiet and reserved for fear of saying too much about the HAP parent. Emotional Avoidance is a way for a child to not deal with what's going on. A child who has a HAP parent may become very reserved and "shut down" when asked about the HAP parent for fear of being punished. They may say things like "I don't remember. I don't want to talk about it." This is there way of "covering up" for the HAP parent. A child's personality may change when in the presence of the HAP parent. A child may be very warm and affectionate towards the non- custodial parent, but as soon as the HAP parent shows up on scene the child becomes less affectionate and reserved towards the non-custodial parent for fear of upsetting the HAP parent.

Reverse PAS. What's that?

Parental Alienation Syndrome is the alienation, programming, or "brainwashing" a child against the other parent. In some cases, this may backfire on the HAP/PAS parent. Some children, through their life experiences learn or sense that what the HAP parent is doing is wrong and will rebel against the HAP parent and over time the child may start to feel hostile towards the HAP parent. A child may even begin to hate their HAP parent for what they are trying to do. If left untreated, the hate the child feels for the HAP parent may last a lifetime.

What does HAP parenting look like?

A HAP parents actions and choices may be very subtle or their choices and actions may speak loud and clear about what's really going on. There are many symptoms of HAP/PAS, but when trying to figure out if your child is being alienated, it's best to look at the whole picture and not just one occasion here, or another situation there. There should be quite a few of the symptoms taking place in a short time period.

  • The HAP parent will make excuses as to why you can't see your child during your scheduled visits. The HAP parent may say the child is ill, tired, has too much homework, or would rather do something else. This is not is not the child's choice to see their parents and the parents should make a good faith effort to make sure the child visits the other parent. Being legitimately ill should be excusable.
  • The HAP parent will sign the child up for numerous other activities during scheduled visits..Sometimes in an attempt to keep the child so busy that the other parent can't spend time with the child. I understand that sometimes soccer practice, ballet practice etc will fall on the other parents time, but there should not be so many activities planned that the other parent does not get a chance to spend quality time with their child. Mmake-up time should be offered.
  • The HAP parent will interrogate a child when they return from a visit. They will ask the child what they did, who was there, where they went etc..not just being curious, but to see if the child had fun or to see if there is anything they can use against the other parent.
  • Will not allow the child to have belongings bought by the other parent. HAP parents have been known to throw away gifts, pictures etc given to the child by the other parent.
  • Will use the child as their own personal therapist. Telling the child graphic details of the divorce, the relationship, etc.
  • Will place blame on the other parent for all the problems of the custodial parent like blaming the absent parent for financial difficulties.
  • Will blatantly refuse to cooperate for the sake of the child. They will be difficult when planning vacations or holidays. They will create undue problems for the non custodial parent when vacations are brought up and may even refuse to bring the child for the other parents vacations or holiday celebrations.
  • Will refuse to follow the court orders such as refusing to bring the child to visits. Will refuse to allow the child to see their parent on special occasions or they will make it extremely difficult.
  • Will punish the child for expressing their want to see the other parent.
  • Will bad mouth the other parent to the child or in front of the child.
  • Will not share information about the child with the other parent. Such as not giving info to schools, doctors etc. Sometimes will not inform the other parent of school functions, or will inform them when it's to late.
  • Will refuse the child phone contact with the other parent. Sometimes they will tell the child that the other parent does not want to speak to them or vice versa or will make the child use speaker phone so the HAP parent can listen in on the conversation.
  • Will tell the child lies about the other parent in hopes the child will pick sides. Will punish the child if the right side is not chosen.
  • Will play on the child's feelings of guilt or sympathy such as telling the child they will be lonely if they go with their other parent. Will try to make the child feel guilty for wanting to see their other parent.
  • Will get the child to place blame on the other parent such as the custodial parent making plans during the scheduled time knowing that the non custodial parent wont/ will be unable to follow through on the plans. This makes the non custodial parent look like the "bad guy." Usually the custodial parent will say something like "Oh, I'm so sorry your father won't take you, I know how much you were looking forward to it.I don't understand why he wouldn't Want you to go I'm so sorry." This makes it look like the non custodial parent doesn't want the child to do this or that. When it's really the fact that the parent just can't afford it, didn't make plans for it etc... I was in this situation. The mother of my stepdaughter told my step daughter that she was going to a soccer game that was 500 miles away, knowing that my husband and I couldn't take a trip that far. The mother then blamed my husband when he had to tell my step daughter no. My husband had no idea about this soccer game.

In the end, anything that continuously disrupts or constantly interferes with your parenting time with no justification is wrong and needs to be stopped. Understandably, things will come up, that is life, but if it turns into a weekly/every other weekend thing, then that's when it becomes a problem and intervention needs to begin before it gets out of hand and turns into PAS.

The symptoms go on and on. There are many different scenarios when it comes to trying to alienate a child. Some are obvious and some are very subtle. When looking at your situation, examine the Whole picture when trying to decide.

My Conclusion

At the end of the day, there is only so much you can do to stop HAP/PAS. In order to stop it, the hostile parent must realise what they're doing is wrong and they must want to change. In most cases, the HAP/PAS parent will deny what they're doing, or will honestly believe what they're doing is justified and in these cases court intervention is a Must. Usually, the only way to stop this maltreatment is to remove the child from the HAP/PAS parents custody. I have another Hub that talks about PAS and what you can do to curtail it. As a(stable minded) parent, no matter what gender, you have a right to co-parent your children and no one should be allowed to stop that. Practice your rights and don't let anyone get between you and your child/ren.

© 2012 Dannell


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      3 years ago

      This article is bs and is very malinformed. And it certainly wasn't written from personal experience. I'm not sure where these alleged statistics were obtained from but there are plenty of mothers who do not have custody due to narcissistic fathers. We are alienated, we are bullied, we often do not have the financial resources to fight, and most importantly, we do not have our babies.

      My child lives with his father. I am rarely provided any important information. I am not permitted to even know or visit my child's doctors. I do not have access to teachers and limited information online. I do not speak poorly of my child's father to my child. My child's father and step-mother, however, have no problem speaking ill of me, not just in their household where my child can hear, but via social media, to previous babysitters, and to anyone who will listen.

      In addition. courts do NOT favor mothers. It's all politics. Whose lawyer knows who. Who pays who. It's f-ing politics and money, not what's in the child's best interest.

      Thousands of non-custodial mothers throughout the US are shamed that they must be "unfit". This is untrue. The older my child gets, the worse things get, as the father fluffs off any communicative responsibility off to my child. That is not my child's responsibility. It is the father's. My child's father wants only the control, title, and money. I have been the only true emotional support system, yet am somehow the bad guy. This article is offensive to women who struggle everyday not being able to be with their children. It's unnatural. Everyone's situation is unique, but this article seems very anti-mother.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Thanks for the reply, the access side is not as much a problem now, at the start it was, she was sited for contempt 5 times but got nothing more than a warning. It's the brainwashing of my daughter against me that I'm concerned about, I have first hand witness evidence that this is going on although I've know for years but could not prove it. My ex cannot move on and blames me for everything, but she does it in front of my daughter and im sure it's having an effect on her. She is doing really well at school but I believe that is due to being away from the hostile environment.

      There have been occasions when my daughter has wanted to go to an event instead of coming to me and I've capitulated to keep her happy and give her the time she wants with friends ( party etc) in the belief that she will see me as caring and have her best interest at heart, rather than the bad dad who is forcing her to see me just because I have the court order in place. She is a great kid and love her to bits but her mother displays so much hostility towards me, behind my back and in front of my daughter that I fear for her mental stability. My biggest fear is that I cannot stop this now before anymore damage is done. I would hate for her to end up with the same attitude as her mother cause like her mum she will live a very lonely bitter existence rather than a life .

    • Dannell profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      You say you have a court order. If the other parent is not following this court order, then the other parent can be held in Contempt of court(even though sometimes difficult) It is not your child's responsibility to see you. It is the parent's responsibility to make sure the child/ren see their other parent. Every time the other parent does not follow the court order, document it on paper. Every time your ex refuses to show up for a drop off, call the police and file a report. An officer can not enforce a Civil court order, but they will write a report for you. Save all communication between you and your ex. Save all the texts and emails. I would try to communicate only through text or email, so you have proof of the conversations. No one likes hearsay. Would this "someone" you mention be willing to write a declaration for you? You need all the evidence you can get your hands on and declarations are a wonderful thing to have. And of course your daughter can not remember. That is common, children being brainwashed are always on edge and in fear of upsetting their parent and getting their parent in "trouble" Children do not want to betray their parents, especially when they are being Alienated.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Everything I have just read is happening to my 10 year old daughter, I have a court order in place but my ex recently told someone that she has got my daughter 75% brainwashed into not coming to see me. My partner and I have known all along that she has been doing this but where do you go to get help. No one believes me, my daughter just clams up and "can't remember" how can I prove that her mother is a HAP parent?

    • profile image

      Bruce Boyman 

      5 years ago

      Family courts are often the last place to get help. They are so biased against dads, they irrationaly turn anything good he does against him and further empower the HAP mother. Government at it's worst. My children were trashed.


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