The problems I list all have a common theme: parents trying to micromanage their children's behavior in one way or another. Parents may protest: "I have to focus on my child's troublesome behavior because they won't stop it." They don't realize that it actually works the other way around: the child won't stop the behavior because the parent keeps focussing on it!
After one of these problems goes on for a while, the situation gets more complicated. The parents and children begin to feed into one another's anxiety and compulsive behavior simultaneously.
In order to solve such a problem, the parents have to be the ones who calm down about the issue first, or the children will be very unlikely to ever calm down and start behaving differently. When the parents do stop micromanaging, other difficult but solvable problems predictably ensue. These are discussed in the last paragraph of this post.
In discussing any problematic parenting issues, there is always a rather devilish and perplexing conundrum that makes any such conversation frought with peril. Many troublesome parenting behaviors are driven by a parent's guilt over their own thoughts and feelings concerning their role as parents, and if one discusses what they may be doing wrong, this adds to their sense of guilt. They therefore often become very defensive and, if anything, dig in their heels. Their problematic practices then get even worse than before!
On the other hand, if they do not really understand what they are doing wrong, they also continue doing it.
A real lose-lose proposition this.
Parental guilt is often increased by negative comments about their parenting practices that come from their own parents, the children's grandparents. This in turn is caused by certain changes in western culture which have been rapidly evolving over the last few decades. I describe these cultural issues in more detail in my last book, in Chapter Two, Don't Blame Us.
Really, looking for someone to blame for family problems is a complete waste of time. The most important questions is, which would you rather do: find fault with people, or actually solve the problems? It is damn near impossible to do both. To naysayers I say, "Grow up!"
The problems are created over several generations, so let's all just blame Adam and Eve, and be done with it.
And so I proceed.
Another frequent explanation, particularly by cognitive-behavioral therapists, is that the problematic parenting practices prevent children from acquiring certain social skills. While that explanation may at times have some truth, many of the "skills" such children are supposed to lack are not exactly rocket science. And these same children often demonstrate in other interpersonal and environmental contexts the very skills they are not supposed to have ever learned!
Kids have minds of their own. Other adults in the house or even in the community may provide a counterweight. Some parents behave more consistently, others much less so. Some are consistently inconsistent. Parents might get sick and tone down their rhetoric for extended periods. A zillion other things may come into play.
If you keep making a huge deal about something your children do or say, they will keep repeating whatever it was so you can continue to obsess about it.
Last - and this is perhaps the most pernicious of all - if you constantly give in to your children's demands out of guilt, but then get angry at them because they are too demanding, then they will fear for your mental stability. In response, they will try to regulate your emotions like a thermostat: If you start to get too angry they will try to make you feel guilty, but if you start to feel too guilty, they will try to piss you off royally.