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Parental Alienation – The Long War

David Pisarra Dec. 22, 2011

For parents who once had a close and loving relationship with their child, becoming the targeted parent in a child custody battle, who is estranged from their child through no fault of their own, the time away is an excruciating period. Having an estranged child or estranged children means every little thing can be a stark reminder of what is missing in one’s life.

My child custody and divorce clients in Los Angeles County and Orange County have told me they want to run away from the constant reminders. From the Hollywood Hills where they would hike with their daughters to the beaches of Santa Monica and Venice where they would play in the surf, there is a constant source of painful reminders for these parents.

The parental alienation or estrangement didn’t happen over night, the alienating parent had to work for years to force a wedge between the alienated child and the alienated parent. Breaking the bonds of parent and child is not easy, and consequently, rebuilding them is not a quick or easy process particularly in the midst of a child custody dispute.

The estranged parent needs to be patient during the long war of child custody hearings and conjoint therapy sessions to rebuild a trust and love that was once as natural as breathing. Being impatient and failing to see how long it takes, or to recognize progress when it happens will only prolong the process.