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Pediatricians Can Play a Role in Helping Children of Divorce

Pediatricians should always be the child's advocate and try to maintain relationships with both parents

boy being examined

MONDAY, Nov. 28, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Pediatricians have a role in helping children deal with parental separation or divorce, according to a clinical report published online Nov. 28 in Pediatrics.

George J. Cohen, M.D., from the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health, and colleagues discuss the impact of divorce on children and the role of pediatricians in dealing with divorce.

The authors note that pediatricians should be attentive to warning signs of dysfunctional marriage or co-parenting relationships and impending separation. In anticipatory guidance, they should discuss family functioning and offer pertinent advice, as appropriate. Clear boundaries should be established, and the pediatrician's role should be defined; pediatricians should try to maintain positive relationships with both parents. Referral to child protective services is indicated if there is concern for ongoing or future abusive or neglectful situations. Families should be referred to mental health and child-oriented resources with expertise in divorce.

"Age-appropriate explanation and counseling for the child and advice and guidance for the parents, as well as recommendation of reading material, may help reduce the potential negative effects of divorce," the authors write.

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Physician's Briefing