Savjetovališ “A child at the center of a conflict – book review”

On the new website of the Croatian Society of Marital and Family Counselors, led by the Rev. Josip Bošnjaković, PhD, psychologist-psychotherapist, were published his book review of “Child in the center (of conflict)” writen by professor Gordana Buljan Flander and Mia Roje Đapić, MSc. of psychology, at an online promotion held on May 20, 2020 on the Zoom platform. Organized by CSWS Pazin-Branch Family Center, in cooperation with the City of Pula and the County of Istria, the director of Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Center, professor Gordana Buljan Flander first held an online lecture on “Resilience and risks in times of crisis”, and then the authors, with Josip Bošnjaković, PhD and family mediator Milena Poturiček from CSWS Pazin presented the book. We publish the fully inspired text of Josip Bošnjaković, PhD from the website Savjetovališ


It is enriching and ennobling to read books about love. So this book also talks about love, from a demanding perspective, conflict, alienation, divorce, opening perspectives to respect, growth, learning, distinguishing between partner and parental roles, as well as many other distinctions. The book has a Preface written by the Authors, then Part 1 and Part 2, like a piece of bread divided into two parts, and both have the same mixture – the welfare and protection of children. Part one has 24 subheadings and Part two has 8 subheadings. All in all 32. At the end of the book is an extremely valuable document 28 truths of the profession in protecting children from emotional abuse in divorce parents signed by 800 experts from Croatia, then a touching letter from childhood friends, and at the very end, in addition to notes on the authors, and two reviews.


As I read the book, I became curious and wondered where that similar title that matched the title of the book was, and found it. I think I can find that it is in Part One, and you will already find it with ease as you read. In the already tested form, we also find mini-authors in this book, and in fact the protagonists of the book, that is, the literary work, as I said in two parts, and that is children. There are more of their testimonies that are touching, wise, revealing, through words or drawings. Thus, the contemporary literature related to the topic present in the entire book has been enriched by these little scientists. Who knows, maybe one of them will be in our place and in our shoes in 30 years, as we try to be in theirs at least today.


On page 18 the authors write:

The more frequent and longer parental conflicts are, the more likely they are to have negative consequences for children (Kelly, 2000), so it is important that parents, but also institutions involved in child protection, protect children from high parental conflict as soon as possible.

I quote this sentence, and there are more similar ones in the book, because the thought of the German neuroscientist Joachim Bauer often comes back to me, stating that we are the resonance of being, that is, the echo of what we live in. I became even more aware in this book that children are an autonomous and original echo of what they see, hear, hear, watch, touch. And so another thought came to me, namely the thought of the orchestra in which it is important to harmonize around the main melody, because if there is no harmonization, of what should be pleasure, in our case joy but also the torment of raising children, there is the torment of dissonance, torment divergences in tones, instruments, great inconsistency, even until the end of the concert, and leaving the concert everyone to their home.

In the orchestra that plays the melody, the most important role is played by parents, who do not need to mix their partner song with the parent song in the process of divorce and separation, alienation. The partner song is for one other concert hall, with other people, with a different sub-theme, although the main theme still remains love. If anything then reading the book in this has largely helped me understand that. And I applied some of the ideas yesterday. The book is so much I would say “human”, the resonance of our reality. There is also hatred in it, that is, words of hatred uttered, again for the sake of love. LS Benjamin said that parents leave us a Gift of love – a gift of love, but that gift is sometimes packed in boxes of hatred, jealousy, envy, revenge, injustice, abuse – and this can often be read in the pages of this book.

I would like to introduce the third image, and another musical one – when a new sound carrier comes out, it is announced and it is often said which publishing house published that record. This one of ours today, not a carrier of sound, but I would say more a carrier of hope and clarity, was composed and published by professor Buljan Fladner and her colleague Roje Đapić, for the most part, metaphorically speaking, in a music house, such and similar successes, under the name Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Center. In addition, I would certainly mention the real and realistic publishing house Geromar from Sveta Nedelja, which in 2018 has already published the Science and Art of Upbringing, authored by professor Buljan Fladner and associates, including colleague Roje Đapić, in the role of executive editor and signatory of several chapters.

Professor Gordana Buljan Flander,PhD

She is very recognizable for her many years of work. She is a clinical psychologist, permanent court expert, psychotherapist, expert of the Council of Europe and director of the Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Center. She also founded Brave Phone about 20 years ago. She has received many important awards for her work – such as the award of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect for the multidisciplinary team of the Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Center, the award of the City of Zagreb for the greatest achievements and results in theoretical and practical work in psychosocial and health care, promoting children’s rights of the Ministry of Demography, Youth and Social Policy, etc. Excellent scientist, expert, active in many lectures, author and co-author of several scientific papers, books, manuals. I am glad that we were able to cooperate on the protection of children in the Catholic Church.


Mia Roje Đapić

is a psychologist at the Zagreb Child and Youth Protection and a doctoral student in prevention science. She completed a four-year specialization in integrative psychotherapy and short trainings in other psychotherapeutic modalities. She is a practitioner and master of neurolinguistic programming, a longtime volunteer, educator and supervisor at Brave Phone. As the coordinator for research, educational and journalistic activities of the Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Center, she coordinated the national research on preschool children in front of small screens, published several professional and scientific papers and actively participates in numerous national and international conferences on child protection and children’s rights. Her main topic of interest is children in parental divorces, so that’s exactly what the book is about.


Back to the book…

The value of the book The Child at the Center of (Conflict) is also in the fact that the authors present the specifics of the Croatian context, within the topics covered, based on research projects and a database of the Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Center. For example, they cite the techniques that parents use in Croatia to disrupt the relationship between the child and the other parent – the authors cite three, I would mention two:  false reports of violence against the other parent and creating an impression of danger.

For the third, I leave room for healthy frustration and your curiosity to discover the joys of new data yourself.

In the book we can also find such dear terms from the first childhood psychologists such as Winicott, Mahler, and then Kernberg – terms like good enough mom, good enough dad – good enough . It is enough to be good enough, not perfect – a great consolation for all of us. The book frees up various stereotypes regarding who should have more children and who should have less, which parent is better or worse. I have learned that joint custody is in the best interests of the child, the presence of father and mother, and that this is one of the major challenges to our society, as well as that one can grieve the loss of parental identity . I learned how it is necessary to be brave to see in ourselves what we would not want to see, to see the gaps around us, going towards an integrated self, integrated parents, partners, and most of all integrated children, who do good and evil, like everyone else. we, but still capable of the most valuable – to love and be loved. I additionally understood the term splitting, and how dangerous it is for mental and spiritual health to idealize and demonize, either oneself or others. We are one beautiful mix, of both.

“When we work with children, it is inevitable that we work with parents as well”

– the authors write in Part 2, one of my favorite sentences. In fact, Part Two brings me back to the idea of ​​an orchestra – more instruments are involved in the welfare of the child, and in Part Two the authors listed 6 points in the continuum of alienation with very clear and practical considerations and instructions, emphasizing the importance of communication between partners, as with children, that is, from a parental role. Every instrument in the orchestra – CSWS, Hospital, Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Centers, parents, kindergarten, schools, etc. – are invited to cooperate.


The book is easy to read

I experienced it as a combination of science, profession, practice, incentives for practical change and application of what we read, calling also for cooperation between institutions. It is primarily addressed to professionals working with children and parents in health and social care, but will be very useful to parents, partners, grandparents, and anyone interested in the welfare of children, and will also come in handy as required literature in related studies. dealing with the topic indicated in the book.

One of my first work experiences 8 years ago was working with one highly conflicted couple. I often remembered them reading this book. I would be glad if I could read this book at least last year because it would be helpful to me even then, and I am glad that I don’t have to wait for next year but we can buy and read it here and now, apply it, improve it, recognize ourselves or someone around us in many words, fighting for the good of the child within ourselves, but also the well-being of the children we encounter as parents, professionals, relatives, friends, acquaintances.

The authors write that the alienation of a child is a very complex and dynamic process, and is based on the relationship between power and control. Let me also speak briefly to this and make a connection with the gospel, therefore the good news, according to Matthew. Namely, Jesus’ disciples also had problems with power, so they wondered who was the most important, who was the most important here.

In Matthew 18 we read:

And straightway the disciples came to Jesus, and said unto him, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And he called unto him a little child, and set him in the midst of them, to enter the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives a child like this in my name receives me. ”

The child was then a symbol of neglect, carelessness, isolation from others, and Jesus puts that “child” and then all others who are isolated and neglected in the center. In that spirit, I also see your book – caring for the neglected leads to the kingdom of heaven here already on earth. We create paradise here. Dante Alighieri, who knew hell and heaven here on earth, wrote that we are left with three things from heaven:

– the stars,

– the flowers,

– the children.


Thank you, dear Professor Buljan Flander, thank you Mia Roja Đapić, for putting this book – The Child in the Center (Conflict) on the table of the parent and partner menu in an understandable, applicable, enriching, scientific and professional way. You put in a visible place what needs to be seen, so that we can all grow together. I am convinced that reading these books will enable us to love more”



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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