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*Photo courtesy of Babble.com
Why do we say this?
Are we afraid we can’t control our kids on our own?
Are we trying to be the good guy by painting Dad as the bad guy?
Are we reaching for something to say so we can have the last word?
Whatever your intent may be, listen up…
The impact is that you are alienating your children from their Father.
If that is your intention, then keep it up, it’s working.
However, if your ego is strong enough for your children to have a healthy and strong relationship with both parents, then you ought to consider changing your behavior. That’s right. Not his behavior, yours.
I have heard single parents say that one of the hardest things about being a single parent is having to be the good cop and the bad cop in the same 10 minutes. I would argue that the other parent is often used as the bad cop after a divorce. Often.
And when parents are still married does it make sense for one parent to be the good cop and one parent the bad cop?
I surely don’t want that in my house! I want my children to have a strong, positive relationship with both of their parents.
I don’t want to be the good cop at the expense of my husband. I don’t want my children to fear their Father. I don’t want to put a wedge between my children and their Dad that is driven in a little bit further each time I say “Wait until your Father gets home!”
Driving that wedge isn’t only done with words. It is done with rolled eyes, heavy sighs, and not supporting your spouse when they draw a line. I don’t want to rush to my children’s defense against my husband and earn a “good cop” badge. Why? That would infer that he is wrong, doesn’t know what is best for them, and doesn’t have authority over them. What foundation does that set for teen years? How does that encourage their Father to be actively involved with our kids? How does that strengthen our family bond?
It should never be Mom and kids against Dad or vice versa. The strongest foundation and sense of security you can give your children is to work as a parenting team and provide consistent rules. And it doesn’t matter if you are married or divorced, kids need to know their parents support each other’s decisions and that both are acting in the children’s best interests.
Are you wondering if there is ever a time that being bad cop is a good idea? Heck yes! In business and in parenting there are definite situations where making another into the bad cop is a great idea.
When my stepsons were littler we often had some pretty intense discussions when I was driving them to school in the mornings. For whatever reason, this was when bullying or peer pressure issues would be voiced. My suggestion for any time they were in a situation that they didn’t feel comfortable with was to use me or their Mom and Dad as the excuse to why they couldn’t participate. Someone’s smoking on the way home from school? Tell them your step mom would kill you if she found out you did that. Sorry, just not worth it to me – she’s scary. Your Mom or Dad would be happy to be your excuse too, I am sure of it.
A client wants you to cut them a special deal on some merchandise. You don’t want to do it, but have exhausted your reasons. Use your boss as an excuse – “I would love to give you a break on these prices, really I would. But my boss would fire me if he found out.” Be careful though that you don’t use this between staff within your own company. You don’t want to tell your direct report that you can’t give them a raise because your boss is a bad cop. That drives a wedge between your direct report and your boss. When you are working in the same firm, you are a family, and those wedges between family members are toxic. Make sure you aren’t doing the business equivalent of “Wait until your Dad gets home!”
So what about you? Are you bad cop or good cop at home? What about at work?
*Blog title inspired by Heidi Cohen’s 125 Free Blog Topics