Why Playing Good Cop/Bad Cop Makes For VERY Effective Parenting

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Love, Self

How we've found a balance between drastically different disciplinary styles.

Lately, my 7-year-old daughter has been throwing some attitude that makes me tremble in fear at the thought of her teenage years. The other night, I asked her to help me clear the table after dinner, a request that earned me an eye roll of Lindsay Lohan proportions.

I launched immediately into full-blown scold mode, lecturing her on respect and the importance of contributing around the house. As I lit into her, I caught a glimpse of my husband in the other room. His head was cocked to one side and his bottom lip was stuck out. The message he was sending me over my little girl's head was unmistakable: "Aw, hon. Give her a break."

My husband is a sucker. Especially for 4-foot-tall blondes with blue puppy dog eyes.

When we first started dating, his laid-back personality was one of the things that led me past our initial attraction and into the level of love and respect that made me realize that this was the man I wanted to spend my life with.

He rarely gets frustrated, and always takes life in stride. He also has a huge heart; if we had the bedrooms and the food budget, we would probably adopt every stray child and dog in the state. I love these things about my husband.

Most of the time.

I love how calmly he reacts when his car is broad sided by a bicycle. I love how he's ready to hug me well before I'm done yelling during a fight. What I don't love is how his chill approach to life has him giving the kids a raised eyebrow and a head shake when I think they need a timeout.

While I'm not one to let minor offenses slide, he relies solely on the power of gentle corrections, and saves his firm hand for more serious situations. And honestly? Sometimes it sucks being the heavy.

Every once in awhile, I'd like to be the one letting the kids off the hook while he enforces the discipline. It just never works out like that. And this makes me furious.

So as I stood in front of my eye-rolling pre-tween, staring over her head at my pacifist husband, I felt my blood pressure soar.

And then I looked back at my daughter, who was waiting for the conclusion of my lecture, any trace of her previously bold attitude as much of a distant memory as Lindsay's career. And in the midst of my completely logical lecture, I grudgingly realized that maybe my husband was right.

While eye-rolling isn't something I plan on accepting from my kids, my lecture may have been a little excessive. So I wrapped it up: I gave my daughter the bottom line — that that kind of disrespect wouldn't be tolerated by either parent in our house — and left her to finish clearing the table solo. 

While she tearfully scraped plates into the trash can and loaded the dishwasher, I headed into the living room to have a talk with my husband. Ultimately, we agreed that calling our kids out when they showed sass was important.

We settled on a standing consequence for eye-rolling, and discussed my tendency to be a bit long-winded when I'm lecturing. We also discussed his tendency to be a total pushover. We agreed to disagree on who's approach was better, and promised to meet somewhere in the middle.

While our differing approaches to discipline have caused a few arguments, I have to admit that our differences actually make us a better team. We tend to balance each other out and reach a middle ground that makes us pretty effective as parents.

And I guess that's the beauty of raising children with a partner whose parenting style doesn't match yours exactly, even if their general philosophy does.

Because at the end of the day, all we're trying to do is raise non-delinquent members of society while still keeping our marriage intact. With as few eye rolls as possible, preferably.