All pediatric practitioners are familiar with the concept of the “difficult” encounter with a family. Such encounters can range from those that leave clinicians with a slightly uneasy feeling once the family has left the office to those in which actual disputes occur. Barbara Korsch, MD, wrote, “There are certain names on the day's schedule that make the practitioner's heart sink and feel fatigued in advance.” (1)

Although the responsibility of an effective partnership between pediatric practitioner and parent is shared, the larger part of the task falls to the clinician. A recent policy statement published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) refers to pediatric clinicians as “privileged and trusted advocates for the well-being of children.” (2) With privilege and trust comes the responsibility to foster relationships with families and to fortify such relationships when they are threatened. The AAP states that “communication and collaboration”...

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