Problems relating to hostile parenting


Hostile parenting is child abuse!

Children don't have to be physically harmed to be abused.  Hostile parenting by an uncooperative parent is CHILD ABUSE!  Hostile parenting can cause a lifetime of emotional damage to a child.  Hostile parenting is very similar to interference of parenting but it is much more widespread and involves many more issues than just interference of parenting.  In many cases hostile parents may not directly interfere with parenting time, but make every other aspect of the child's relationship with the other parent as difficult as possible.


Uncooperative and hostile parents often have a personal background, which may include any one or more of the following

  • Have a personal history of emotional abuse against any of their children and/or former spouse.

  • Have a history of anger management difficulties

  • They may have either a poor family support network or a family that supports them in their hostile parenting practices.

  • May have been abused themselves as a child.

  • History of broken common-law or marital relationships.

  • History of having made false allegations of sexual or physical abuse against a former partner(s)

Some of the behaviors and actions of a hostile parent

  • Refuse to promote more effective communication between parents.  Hostile parents will often not talk to their former spouse and try to find ways to thwart any means of communication.  Such parents may refuse to get fax machines (even when they can afford it) or divulge their E mail address.  Hostile parents generally do not want to have a paper trail which may show that they are being uncooperative with the other parent.

  • Always wait until the last minute to settle summer vacation or holiday periods.  Hostile parents always are trying to find ways to frustrate the other parent.  Often the only time that a hostile parent may cooperate is when they are threatened with imminent court action or other third party intervention.

  • Not inform the other parent of upcoming school activities, events, or holidays when the child may be off from school.

  •  Choose daycare providers who are their own friends and know will side with them or bend the truth in their favor to help them make things difficult for the other parent.

  •  Choose daycare workers who they know will not get "involved" to help resolve problems or to keep silent about irregularities involving the children. When a daycare provider does try to do what is right or to expose problem, then the hostile parent will switch to another babysitter without notice to the other parent.

  •  Select daycare providers that only they have had the chance to talk to without any consultation or involvement with the other parent.

  • Not ask the other parent to care for the child when the child is sick but instead prefer to take the child to daycare providers outside of the children's own family members.

  • Not giving the other parent the chance to parent  the children when the other parent is more than willing

  • Tell the other parent that the children are too sick to come for their regularly scheduled access visit or to be late because of illness.

  • Create difficulties for the children to see the other parent on special occasions such as birthdays, father's or mother's day, special family gatherings, etc.

  • Make the children feel guilty about seeing the other parent.

  • Insist that the non-custodial parent return the children precisely on time while the custodial parent enjoy flexibility and is able to set their own times.

  • Refuse to have a third party act as a mediator, coordinator, or have any other professional involved in helping the parents co-parent effectively.

  • Take the children to counselors or other professionals to get letters of support in a custody dispute but do not want those counselors to meet or to obtain any input from the other parent.  (Referred to in the industry as recommendation letters for sale)

  • Refuse to participate in mediation or any kind of assessment program, which involves the participation of all the members of the family.

  • Unwilling to consider any kind of fair and equal parenting arrangement for the children when such an arrangement is desired by the other parent and were circumstances would permit such an arrangement.

  •  Always exhibiting anger towards the other parent, months or years after the separation.

  • Practice parental alienation techniques designed to keep the children and step children from seeing the other parent.

  • Afraid to permit the non custodial parent to take the child to any kind of counseling or other third party professional in case the child may reveal something that they do not want the non custodial parent to find out about.

  • Refuse to disclose important and relevant information from the non custodial parent which  may be relevant to effective parenting of the child, such as refusing to disclose place of employment, phone numbers, contact numbers, health card information, etc., when there is no valid reason to keep this information secret.

  • Make it difficult for the non-custodial parent to communicate with such as having the answering machine always on or having others pick up and screen calls, etc., etc.

  • Refusing to promote methods of communication such as E mail or Fax machines.  Hostile parents will say that they don't have E mail when they do or say their fax machine is broken.

  • Encourage the children to lie and to hide about what is happening in their home.

In each of the examples above, the hostile parent gets just what he or  she is after, usually the feeling of power and a sense of revenge against the other parent.   As a consequence, the child and the non-custodial parent lose a precious part of their life together. For the child the damage is life-long.

What can be done to stop hostile parenting

There are some very simple and effective strategies that will help to reduce the incidence of hostile parenting.

  • Require parents to communicate by way of fax machine or E mail.  This method of communication helps both parents to relay request and pass information while leaving a paper trail.  This puts a hostile parent on notice that a request has been made.  Generally hostile parents will not be as aggressive when they know that others will be able to see what they are not acting in the best interests of their child. 

  • Have third parties such as family coordinators to get involved with the family and to monitor the communication between parents.  Family Coordinators ensure serve as valuable third party witnesses to ensure that parents communicate effectively.

Parents must be taught that there are consequences for emotionally abusing their child through hostile parenting. The court must be effective in ensuring that consequences are administered.  Parents who learn that they can be hostile and uncooperative without any consequences will only be encouraged to continue with their hostile behavior.

To stop the needless abuse of children, the Courts must:

  • As a first step, to ensure fairness and to ensure in its orders that BOTH parents are treated equally. This is the most powerful and effective way for the court to gain respect for its orders..

  • Shared parenting and shared responsibilities in raising the child must be given top consideration.  When both parents know that they have a legally recognized status in their child's life, then both parents will focus on maintaining their status by being the best parent they can rather than trying to get the other parent out of the child's life and risk having their parenting status removed by the court.

  • Provide BOTH parents the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to parent the child before making any final custody Order.  When both parents know they will have the opportunity to demonstrate their parenting abilities their will be less incentive to act in a hostile manner during the early stages of separation or divorce.

  • Special considerations must be made to the parent that demonstrates the willingness and disposition to promote a relationship with the other parent and to consistently act in the best interests of the child.

In summary, the courts can be effective tool in eliminating child abuse caused by hostile parenting providing they exercise their power in an appropriate and measured manner.