What to do if you are Estranged or Alienated from your Child

by Dr. Reena Sommer

Author of Developing An Effective Parenting Plan

Do Any of the Following Apply to You?

  • Has your relationship with your child been strained by loyalty issues related to your divorce?

  • Has your relationship with your child been influenced by parental alienation syndrome?

  • Have you and your children endured a lengthy and bitter custody battle?

  • Has your relationship with your child been interrupted because of geographical distancing?

  • Do you want to establish a relationship with your child whom you never knew?

If you answered "YES" to any of the above, read on!!

The Problem

The bond children have with their parents is essential to their development, their self concept and their self esteem. It provides children with the framework for how their view themselves and the world around them. More importantly, it sets the blueprint for how they form relationships with others. The importance of this bond cannot be over stated or under estimated.

Sometimes events or situations occur and result in this important bond not being formed or disrupted or broken. Some of these circumstances include but are limited to:

  • A child may not have established a relationship with their biological or birth parent because of adoption or separation from that parent at birth because of geographic distancing and/or because the relationship between the child's parents broke down. Some times a parent chooses to not establish a relationship with the child because he/she feels at the time, it is not in the child's best interest to do so. Often times, a father is not even aware of his child's existence and as a consequence, he never had an opportunity to form a relationship with the child.


  • A parent's physical and mental illness or events that alter a parents' ability to function and relate to his/her child at times might have a significant impact on a relationship with his/her children. Some illnesses or medical/psychiatric conditions such as stroke, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, drug and alcohol addictions or brain injuries, may result in impairments in the affected parent so great that it might be difficult for a child to continue his/her relationship as it once was.


  • A divorce and its fallout often leads to disruption in children's lives. During this time, children might become hostile toward one or both parents. Most often this disruption is brief and resolves in itself within the first year post separation. However, there are times when it is difficult to sustain a relationship that once particularly when a custodial parent relocates.

  • The most serious consequence of divorce is when one parent deliberately attempts to distance their child or children from the other parent. It is even more painful and devastating to the children and the affected parent when the children engage in the alienating process. Without intervention, preferably swiftly, the chances of re-establishing the important parent-child bond and repairing the relationship becomes increasingly difficult as time goes on.

Click this link to review Dr. Sommer's Report, Children's Adjustment to Divorce, which highlights and explains the Parental Alienation Syndrome.