Over Christmas, I read an article about a mother who killed her little boy and attempted to kill her little girl (although luckily, she was ok), to spite the father. She then sent videos and texts telling him what she had done. Luckily this doesn’t occur daily, although still much more often than I would like, but it got me thinking about parents that use children as weapons in relationships.
I don’t necessarily mean those men and women who kill their children to spite their partners. I also mean the men and women who decide that, now their relationship has broken down or maintenance has been missed, that the other person doesn’t ‘deserve’ to have their child. Like they are a treat rather than a human feeling with needs and feelings. I am part of an online forum that discusses all things pregnancy and shockingly, although very tellingly, I saw posts where mums (both current and expecting) where encouraging other mums ‘not put fathers on the birth certificate because then they have rights if things go wrong’. Upsettingly, this doesn’t seem to make a difference either way. If your partner wants to stop you from seeing you child, it will happen. This disgusting behaviour will only change when the family courts and justice system stop allowing children to be treated as possessions and start seeing them as humans who can feel, love and be psychologically damaged through HAP (Hostile Aggressive Parenting) and PAS (Parental Alienation Syndrome).
Although similar, and very often interlinked, HAP and PAS are very different things and should not be confused with each other. PAS often refers to the psychological condition of the child, where a mother (or father) creates a barrier between the child and parent by consistently transferring negative feelings to them or silencing any reference to their other parent. HAP however is about the behaviour, actions and decisions of a single person towards another. For the sake of this blog, I’ve mentioned parents but actually this can be any guardian: grandparent, extended family, in laws and even day-care workers.
For the sake of this blog, I will assume the father is in the positon of being separated from his child(ren). I am not saying it doesn’t work the other way, nor that its right in any situation, but commonly it is the father who suffers. HAP is often used during child custody hearing, with the primary caregiver often stopping access until court ordered otherwise. This is because the court commonly favours the status quo and, if the child is happy where they are (which they often will be because they are with a parent) then they are unlikely to question it. This manipulation of the system often results in fathers being granted less and less access so the relationship becomes strained. This often isn’t as simple as them saying ‘you’re not having them’ – it is much more manipulative than that. They can use various excuses such as:
* Claiming that a child is ill
* Ensuring that a child is unavailable
* Scheduling activity’s during the alienated parents time
* Raising unnecessary concerns about the alienated parent’s ability to care for a child
Who is harmed by this?
As hurtful as being isolated from a child is to its father, it’s worse for the child. Whereas an adult can vent their frustrations, communicate with friends and understand their feelings, a child is stuck. They know they are upset but can often not tell why which leads to them acting out at school and at home. Regardless of if they cry to their parents or not, their feelings are often ignored as parents believe that they know best in the long run or – frankly – do not care!
According to hostile-aggressive-parenting.com, this can lead to a variety of behaviour issues including – but not limited to:
- High levels of conflict and behavioural between the child and the custodial parent
- The child running away from home or refusing to return to the HAP parent
- Exhibiting behaviour problems including anxiety, being overly quiet and reserved
- Emotionally avoiding any question about the custodial parent’s behaviour, being defensive
- Bed wetting
- Sleep disorders
- May self-harm or exhibit suicidal tendencies
- May show aggression towards the custodial parent especially at times when returning from parenting time with their father
- Can show signs of physical abuses
- May lack self esteem
If you are unsure whether your child is suffering from Hostile Aggressive Parenting, and you are one of the lucky ones who get access, you can fill out this form. Its quick, easy and takes just 15 minutes.