As a parent of a toddler, I get my fair share of seeing or hearing the same movie on repeat for several times a week. My two-year-old son is currently enamored with The Lego Movie. In short, this movie tells the tale of Emmet and his quest for greatness. Along the way, Emmet is avoiding a cop character that has split personality disorder and conducts his business in a “good cop” and “bad cop” persona.
Many families follow this same model as the cop from The Lego Movie. One parent is the fun parent (good cop) that does a lot of the activities and let’s a lot of things slide when it comes to discipline. The other parent is the one that does all the disciplining, says “no” all the time, and can be known as the mean parent (bad cop). In many families, one parent stays at home with the children while the other parent goes to work. With one parent being at home with the children for a large chunk of each day, that parent probably disciplines more. By default, they become the “bad cop”. My family carries the above dynamic. My wife is at home with the children all day. When I come home, it is a welcomed break, for both my wife and my children, from each other. My son gets a new a play
buddy, and my wife can finally take a moment to herself. I strive to find a perfect balance of friend and authority figure in my children’s lives. If I were to be a good cop all of the time, my kids would know they could get away with anything. On the opposite side of the coin, if I threaten time outs all the time, how can they come to me when they make a mistake and just need a listening ear? I want to help coach my children through their lives. Finding a balance between being the fun parent (playing with Batman toys) and the strict parent (discipling when necessary) will help me achieve this goal. My parents are great examples of this type of parenting. They both were two people I grew up loving and having respect for because they weren’t totalitarian with their authority, but they weren’t loose with our rules either. For example, I was expected to be respectful in my speech and to do my chores. If I ever told my parents to shut up or I didn’t clean my room, I faced the consequences--I lost privileges with friends and video game systems. I have also seen the other side of things where one parent is strict and the other aloof with the family rules. Spoiler alert, it doesn’t work.
Life is about balance and communication. If you feel that your family is heading down the “good cop” “bad cop” route, then talk with your spouse or partner and find balance.