FREE PUBLICATION – Disease in the Family: A Handbook for Parents

Considering the coronavirus pandemic that threatens a large number of patients in our families, as well as families who are struggling with another illness of a child / member regardless of the current situation, the experts of the Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Center have prepared a parent’s manual “DISEASE IN THE FAMILY “. The manual can be downloaded free of charge from our website in PDF format here (on Croatian language): DISEASE IN THE FAMILY: A Handbook for Parents (PDF).

The authors of the manual are psychiatrist Marjeta Knez Turčinović, social pedagogue Dora Kralj, clinical psychologist Vlatka Križan and social worker Nikolina Škrlec, editor of the publication is director of the our Center, professor Gordana Buljan Flander, PhD, publisher of the Zagreb Children and Youth Protection Center.

You can also download our other publications for free here (on Croatian language):

In the introduction of the publication “DISEASE IN FAMILY” the authors write:

“This handbook is based on years of experience working with families who have been affected by various traumatic experiences. Disease is also a traumatic event, since we experience it as a threat to ourselves or others, it comes suddenly and causes unpleasant emotions such as fear, anxiety, feelings of helplessness, loss of control. A distinction is made between acute (sudden onset, relatively short course and marked symptoms) and chronic disease (a condition characterized by a longer period of time, generally “not disappearing”). The disease can affect our mental or physical system and, in addition to its effects on the functioning of the adult / child, it affects other family members as well as the whole family dynamic.

In addition to the experience and knowledge gained through education, clinical practice and scientific work, all authors have personal experiences with family illness. After all, most people and children are sadly overwhelmed by this extremely stressful experience.

We are completing this booklet in an era where each of us is indoors, disabled for many activities that are important to us – our work with clients, walks with our families, hanging out with friends (live), overwhelmed with concern for the health of dear people, and shaken earthquake. It is no coincidence that right now we have sat down to complete the lines about families who, while living in uncertainty, fears, inability to engage in all activities, try to maintain everyday life and a “normal life” for their family.

Writing this brochure has helped us get closer to the usual daily routine in which we collectively support families in suffering, as well as remembering all the resources at our disposal and the essential things that remain to us. It also allowed us to socialize and socialize in “some other ways.”

We therefore hope that this brochure will serve as a source of support for you and your family members, those of you who live in insecurity and limitations in their daily functioning.”



  1. CHILD AND DISEASE: chronic physical illness (talking to the child, accepting the child’s reaction to the developmental age, preparing for examinations, tests, procedures and hospital treatment; mental illness of the child (what is and why it is important to support professionals, preparing the child to leave mental health specialist, the child’s reactions when diagnosing the disease, types of treatment), the child’s chronic illness and everyday life (school, peers, leisure), the child’s chronic illness and the impact on the family / the impact of the child’s illness on parents, the impact of the child’s illness caregivers, the impact of the disease on healthy siblings)
  2. DISEASE OF PARENTS / GUARDIANS AND CHILDREN: illness of parents / guardians and young children, illness of parents / guardians and older children / adolescents, impact of illness on parenting / guardianship, mental illness of parents / guardians and child
  4. SUPPORT FOR FAMILIES AFFECTED BY THE DISEASE: support of the family on a personal level and support through the institutions of the system
  5. MESSAGE TO FAMILIES FOR THE END: Dear all of you who have this manual in your hands and in it you have found something that reminded you of some of your experiences or you are parents whose child is sick, we want to tell you that there is no person who, as an author unknown to us once said, “life is not scattered into thousands of pieces like the wind makes a wave when it hits a rock ”. This is exactly what we could compare to the first feeling and state in which all those who receive information that their child is ill find themselves, so their previous way of life, routine, family rituals, dreams and desires change radically in a second.


We, as mental health professionals, who work with parents / guardians on a daily basis through similar experiences, wish to alleviate your feelings and difficulties in at least one small part and thus support you and tell you that you are not alone in your problem regardless that sometimes you feel that way. We hope you find the information that will preserve some of the strength and courage you will give to your sick child, and help you feel better and be supportive in difficult moments of fear, uncertainty and struggle.


You can download the publication here (on Croatian language): Brošura bolest u obitelji-za web (1)


Disclaimer: This is unofficial translation provided for information purposes. Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Center cannot be held legally responsible for any translation inaccuracy.   

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