Hostile-Aggressive Parenting (HAP)
generally can be categorized into three levels, the first being
“moderate” (the most common) and the second being “severe” and the third being “critical.”
Identifying the behaviours of hostile-aggressive parents is the first step to determining the category
and deciding on the necessary corrective actions to be taken.
The majority of hostile-aggressive parents falls into the moderate category. Parents in this category
are often able to keep their abusive parenting behaviour from being noticed to any great extent by
others or they manage 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 symptoms. The risk of harm to a child is greater in the serious category than
with the items considered as being 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.
In the “critical” category, most people would consider this behaviour highly abnormal and even
dangerous to the well-being of a child. Intervention is usually required immediately.
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
behaviour 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. The rationalization that the hostile-aggressive parent uses to justify their behaviour
becomes more frivolous & absurd as the degree of HAP progresses. 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.”
Symptoms of Mild Hostile Aggressive Parenting
Symptoms of Severe Hostile Aggressive Parenting
Examples of Critical Risk Behaviours/Indicators
The term “Critical Risk Behaviour/Indicator” refers to any behaviour 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 behaviours would be considered as meeting the threshold for child abuse, neglect or
In most cases, the presence of any Critical HAP Behaviours/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.