Good cop, bad cop

This is the type of approach to parenting that drives me crazy. The bad cop is always the primary carer of the children and the good cop may come in the form of the other parent, who dips in and out, a grandparent or other relative or even a child care professional.

Us bad cops are not really bad at all, we are just with our children all the time, day and night and therefore trying to maintain a consistent parenting approach around the clock. We might sound like nags to the rest of you but really we are just trying to keep the peace, instill some boundaries, discipline and routine, among the fun and frolics.

So when you think it is unreasonable that we raised our voice when one on the children threw their food on the floor, when your response was “oh dear, never mind” please remember that whilst that might have been the first time you have witnessed that behaviour, it is likely to be about the 20 something time we have picked up food from the floor, or chiseled it off the walls that week.

Whilst treats are fine and flexes to a routine necessary to enjoy various different things, please remember that the bad cop has to get things back to ‘normal’ at some stage.

One of the most unfair things the good cop does begins in simply playing with a child. As the good cop might not get the opportunity to do this very often, play can quickly escalate to winding a child up and the bad cop is then required to intervene and ‘fix’ the situation.

As a child I don’t ever remember a divided opinion when it came to asking my parents something, they always at least said, that they thought the same.

For a child it is very confusing to hear mixed messages from parents. This can also lead to dishonesty and manipulation later on. I remember a few of my school friends saying they always asked one parent something as they knew the other would say no.

Are you in a good cop/bad cop situation? Which one are you? Are you sabotaging another persons approach without realising?

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20 comments on 'Good cop, bad cop'

  • Yep, you’ve just described our life to a T. I’m at work all day and often get home with only 45 minutes until their bed time. A couple of times the kids haven’t been allowed to play with me before bed or even speak to me because they’ve been told off by the bad cop. But I will say this, while the bad cop has probably had to tell them umpteen times through the day, they’ve also probably had the opportunity to be good cop through the day too. The parent who is at work all day hasn’t had the same opportunities to find that balance, we have to play both roles in a much more condensed space of time. Give them 10 minutes of fun and enjoyment and then let the good cop re-establish the calm by being bad cop for a bit, otherwise you’re saying only enjoy your kids on your days off, which isn’t really fair.

  • When we are both around I tend to be the good cop because just having someone else with me makes me feel more patient. The Husband less so. I think the phrase “wait until your father gets home” is in my future! Thanks for linking with #effitfriday

  • This sounds familiar! I am definitely the more strict one in our household as the stay at home parent and sometimes my husband finds it difficult to understand the way I react to certain situations. It’s also bloody hard sometimes to keep your cool when as you say, it’s the 20th time it’s happened that week. My husband also hates shouting whether its the kids or me so automatically ssh’s us which drives me mad! Especially when it’s me raising my voice and he does that in front of the children.

  • Great post :) Kids soon learnt the art of manipulation, and they know exactly which parent to ask for certain things, or when to wait and ask a grandparent, auntie etc. #effitfriday

  • I’m sure I’m sometimes seen as bad cop but like to think at times i’m good cop! My husband and I always try to work together so we’re always reading from the same page in regards to our decisions, hopefully we will continue this way! Great post and popping by from the #binkylinky X

  • I was always the bad cop, my ex was the good cop who would constantly undermine me.
    This had very bad repercussions when we got devorced, and has ultimately led to a estrangement between my youngest son and myself #binkylinky

  • Completely get where you’re coming from here. I’m not sure there’s a definite good cop and bad cop in our house. I suppose I do the majority of the telling off, and I do experience his Dad winding up to the point where I have to intervene. Me and my partner have equal turns at being the primary carer as we work different shifts to each other, therefore one looks after our son whilst the other is at work. I’m quite easy going though so I’ve probably got elements of good cop in me! But when we’re both with our son in definitely the one making the boundaries!

  • You are so right! There is no way that I will let anyone do that with my little man. I’m his mum and what I say goes. Others are too quick to point the finger and also spoil peoples children, it just makes it harder for the ‘bad cop’ to keep some form of discipline. Nice post! #binkylinky

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