Good Cop, Bad Cop

When co-parenting, sometimes we tend to fall into patterns or roles, everything from which parent gets breakfast ready to who reads the bedtime stories. While its great to stick to routines, there are some aspects of parenting where both parental units need to be equally present. Many mums and dads fall into the role of who is the “good cop” parent and who is the “bad cop” parent — the pushover, the softee,  vs. the disciplinarian, the strict one. We’ve talked to a lot of parents about this issue over the years and a lot of you have added your own questions and voiced trouble with this issue on our forums. Though there isn’t always a perfect solution, here are some ideas that may help keep you out of a “police state.”

1. Communication: If you find yourself trapped in the role of disciplinarian to your partner’s “fun parent,” talk to them about it first. Tell them how it makes you feel and let them know that your roles as co-parents need to be equal and supportive of each other’s actions and decisions.

2. A game plan: When it comes to discipline and punishments  no one really wants to be the enforcer, but whenever possible, come to a decision about what the consequence is for what your child’s bad behavior or actions. Some consequences can be determined in advance, while others might be decided upon immediately after the negative behavior. Both parents must be the enforcers and, if only one parent is present at the time of the bad behavior, the other parent must support the punishment that has been decided upon.

3. Follow through: After decided on a game plan and being supportive of each other, the biggest hurtle is the follow through. Make sure you stick with whatever consequence you doled out. Whether it’s a few minutes, hours or days, you must be a united front as parents. In addition to supporting each other, this also supports your child as they learn correct and appropriate behavior. Rules, restrictions, and consequences make kids feel safe and learn boundaries that help make them functional adults.

4. Switch roles: Make sure it isn’t just one parents doing all of the disciplining in your family. It’s important that you switch it up and stick together. Parents should be on equal fotting both with each other and to show their kids a united, stable response to bad behavior.

No one likes to be the strict parent, but it’s even less fair to make one parent take on that role every time. Make sure you’re keeping in constant communication with your partner about this, revise your game plan when necessary, follow through on consequences, and support each other along the way. Each growing stage will bring a new set of challenges, so get going on your communication skills early to help make the best decisions for both your child and your parenting partnership. Go team!


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