Good Cop, Bad Cop Or Team Parent?

Good Cop, Bad Cop Or Team Parent?

Can love and affection walk hand in hand with discipline? Discover why parents must act as one when disciplining their child...

Sometimes, parents play ‘good cop, bad cop’ when it comes to disciplining their children. But a child has an almost radar sense of ability to pick up even the slightest split between parents when it comes to handing out discipline and love.

This act in which one parent spoils the child as ‘good cop’, while the other is the strict disciplinarian, or ‘bad cop’ may look good on paper.

However, in reality, it is a recipe for disaster for both parents, their relationship with each other and with their child, and the mental well-being of the child.

Overly-smart kids

Good Cop, Bad Cop Or Team Parent?

Disagreeing about disciplinary measures in front of your child may result in a turbulent homefront. | Image source: iStock

For many parents who play good cop and bad cop when it comes to their child’s discipline, it can over time, unfortunately, breed contempt for one or the other.

Ideally, parents needn’t have to play a cop of any kind. They need to simply be there as parents and offer guidance to their child.

When parents play ‘good cop bad cop’, a child may see this dynamic as the ultimate way out of their own responsibilities.

So while one parent enforces discipline (the bad cop), by complaining to the other parent (good cop) the child can easily get out of facing any consequences for inappropriate behaviour.

What’s more, the child plays off of both parents’ doubt for each other’s discipline style, which ultimately enables the child to control the household.

Battle of the spouses

Good Cop, Bad Cop Or Team Parent?

Image source: iStock

Perhaps one of the worst mistakes parents can make is when one disagrees with a rule laid down by their partner in front of their child.

Youngsters are very quick to pick up on facial expressions and signs that suggest a disagreement. Such disagreements between parents that happen in clear view of the child can also create tensions in the relationship as one battle with the other for an upper hand over their child.

It simply adds up to disharmony in the household and the result will be an unhappy couple and an even more unhappy and confused child

How to overcome the ‘good cop bad cop’ routine

Good Cop, Bad Cop Or Team Parent?

Even if you don’t agree with the other, display a united front in front of your child. You can discuss the matter later with your partner when your child is not around. | Image source: iStock

In order to avoid the ‘good cop, bad cop’ routine try sitting down with your partner and talking through a strategy in which there is a support network for each other.

Try to come to an agreement that one will back up the other if the child is testing their decision. For example, if a child complains to one parent that the other has taken their mobile phone away for misbehaving, then that parent should back up the disciplinary action.

Make the statement clear and unequivocal and then walk away — case closed.

The net result is that the child, seeing a united front, is unlikely to repeat the unacceptable behaviour or action, and will begin to understand the respective roles in the family.

Do attempt to communicate more with each other. If one partner disagrees with a rule, back it up in front of the child, and then raise the matter later with your partner.

Again, showing discord in front of your child will enable him or her to play both parents off.

Ultimately, a united front with ground rules laid down and each backing up the other will lead to a more open and fruitful relationship between parents and their child.

Don’t forget, it is also true that acting as the bad cop all the time will have its downsides as the child is likely to shut down emotion, love and communication to that parent.

Instead, easing up and spreading the burden of enforcing rules will offer a balanced and realistic perspective on bringing your child up and set up an appropriate balance among all member of your household.

Are you the bad cop or good cop in your household? We’d love to hear from you so do leave us a comment.

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