Parenting and Being the Bad Cop
Any parent that has ever had to scold their kids or discipline them has experienced the “joy” (not) of playing bad cop. Growing up, typically it is the mother figure who is good cop, loving and nurturing. The father figure, however, they are typically the strong unbreakable kind. The one who has to put their foot down. Watch Inside Out, they discuss it a little better there. Now, to avoid the blow up over roles, two moms/dads, etc., understand that growing up for me, child of a single parent, my mom was always both.
I do not envy single parents, because it really takes two to raise a child. Again, I am not saying single parents don’t do an incredible job, they do. I am friends with a good deal of single parents, and they do better than most couples. However, I am talking about the strain it takes on the parent. Playing both often means you have to pick what you say and do a little more carefully. My mom spent so much time scolding with one hand and comforting with the other. That kind of duality can wear a person down quickly, and too many are being run ragged that way.
Ideally, when two people have children it would be best for both to play each role. Just because you are always good cop, doesn’t mean you have to lose your ‘dad voice’ (that’s what my fiancé calls it). However, the same goes for bad cop; You don’t have to spend all of your time being the bad guy and taking the glares and the slammed doors. In my first marriage, my nickname from her family had been the Tyrant. To be completely honest, I kind of liked the name, just not how I obtained it. I was told I was too hard on my kids, and that I needed to let them be kids. In my own mind, I was tough because I was overprotective. Everyone was right.
It only took a divorce to get me to see how badly I was doing at parenting, let alone being the bad cop. You don’t earn a nickname like that for nothing. After that I realized that I am raising two excellent boys (three now), and that, yes, they are respectful because I pushed hard for that, but they are also silly and a little crazy. Before, as The Tyrant, I would have seethed at their craziness, expecting them to sit down and be good. But now? I was so used to playing my role. I think in all honesty I was making up for the lack of bad cop I had growing up.
I hate doing it now. I hate being bad cop. I love the feeling when my kids come up to me instead of mom for comfort. Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple. Or maybe it is. Maybe it is so simple as to say, sometimes you have to be both. Like pro-wrestlers tagging each other in to handle the angry combatant. I suppose the point of this is that we need to understand that having two standard roles, one for each person isn’t always the best way to go. Ideally, parents just agree and be hard together or soft together. It is a game of choosing your battles, but always being on each other’s side.