It's the little things that count ... always
That's true when it comes to being a citizen, an employee and a spouse. It's also true of being a parent.
In each case, the little things add up to a Big Thing ... always.
And the Big Thing is either going to benefit everyone or the Big Thing is going to be to everyone's detriment.
One of the things I notice about today's parents is that they are almost constantly doing little things that add up to Big Things that are to everyone's detriment ... their detriment and their kids' detriment.
Take, for example, parents who bring young children into a restaurant and ask them where they want to sit. Then, when the kids have finally decided where they want to sit -- which is rarely where the parents would have had them sit -- the parents give them menus. Or, if the kids can't yet read, the parents read the menu to them, asking them what they'd like to eat. This takes several minutes, usually.
All of this brouhaha gives the children the impression that their status at the table is equal to their parents' status at the table. It also contributes greatly to children becoming picky eaters, also known as "table tyrants."
That's the big thing, right there; asking children about little things such as where they want to sit, what they want to eat and so on.
The Big Thing is children who believe they rule, that their likes and dislikes determine family decisions; in short, children who believe they are entitled.
Their parents, at the same time, are obviously not entitled. Their parents exist to please them, to entitle them. The logical outcome of this is children who are, in a word, brats.
I'm talking about children who complain, are ungrateful, argue, demand, are petulant and tyrannize their parents with frequent emotional outbursts. Make no mistake about it, these little domestic despots are not happy campers.
Their lives are a constant drama in which they never get enough of what they want.
Their parents, meanwhile, ask themselves how so much love and hard work and giving could have resulted in such difficulties.
Like I said, it's the little things that count.
When parents make a child the reason for their existence, they are likely to get a child who believes likewise -- that his parents exist because of him, to do things for him, to give him things, to defer to him.
The parents become, in effect, vending machines. Predictably, when one of these biological vending machines does not deliver as it should, the child in question is likely to explode in a rage -- shouting at the vending machine, calling it all manner of nasty names, even hitting and kicking it.
The other aphorism that applies is the one about the road paved by good intentions; i.e., lots of little bricks.
John Rosemond, a family psychologist, answers parents' questions at rosemond.com.