Thirty-six families with a preteenage behavior problem child were assessed on measures of marital discord, parental psychopathology, and three parental cognitive factors: knowledge of behavioral principles, tolerance for child deviancy, and expectations regarding their child's behavior. Nine nonproblem families with demographic characteristics similar to the problem families were also assessed. Correlational analyses across all families revealed a strong association between marital discord and the parental index of child behavior problems. While a number of significant associations were discovered between the various measures of marital discord, parental psychopathology, and parental cognitive factors, no other measure besides marital discord was associated with parental perception of child behavior problems. The nonproblem families and 15 of the problem families also participated in home observations obtained through random audio recordings during high interaction periods. These observational data indicated a significant relationship between parental perception of child behavior problems and parental negative behavior toward the child, but no significant relationship between parental perception of child behavior problems and child behavior, even when child behavior was weighted by parents' reactions to that behavior. Through sequential analysis, several contingent relations between parent and child behavior were discovered. Findings are discussed in relation to family systems theory.