- If a child acts violently angry, the purpose of this behavior is to deflect the anger that one parent is experiencing against the other. Violence is, therefore, usually a sign of parental discord.
- Kids hear and understand much more than we think.
- A child will do anything to make his or her parents stop arguing.
- Kids act out parental feelings that the parent can’t express.
- Young adults that refuse to grow up and move out are doing so in order to covertly give their parents who are not getting along a reason to stay together.
- A parent’s obsession with a child is often a substitute for intimacy in the parents’ marriage.
- The pain of one family member always affects all other family members.
- Sibling squabbles can reflect parental discord.
Wedge shows clearly how this trap can be avoided.
- Who are you worried about more, your mother or your father?
- What makes you scared at night?
- What would things be like at home if you did not have this problem?
- What was happening in the life of the family when the symptom began?
- What is the SECOND biggest problem in this family?
- Where and when does the problem NOT occur? What is happening when the symptom is NOT?
The author goes on to illustrate several family psychotherapy techniques for inducing behavior change in family behavior, in clear and easily-understood language. Most of these techniques come from a subschool of family systems therapy called strategic family therapy, whose originators include Jay Haley, his wife Chloe Madanes, and Mara Selvini Palazzoli.