Do You Do Good Cop, Bad Cop Parenting? by Fern Weis, Parent + Family Recovery Coach



One of you may be unable to tolerate the kids’ nonsense and is easily frustrated, while the other is more even-tempered. Or maybe your partner is consistent with discipline and you are the ‘soft touch’. In a two-parent home, it’s common for each of you to have different strengths, challenges and styles when it comes to parenting. So who’s the enforcer?

Too often parents can get so caught up in their own differences on how to raise their kids, that they end up fighting with each other, instead of calmly and effectively dealing with their child. Does this sound like your home? It ends up being just what the kids want – to wiggle out of a tough spot!

One mom told me how even when she and her husband agreed about consequences, they had different ways of delivering the message. This was a source of frustration for both of them, and took the focus off their child. A dad shared that he and his wife constantly disagreed about how to handle a situation. They were rarely on the same page, and this caused great stress in their marriage. And again, the focus was off their daughter, and gave her mixed messages and lack of consistent expectations.

This is where you need to take advantage of each others’ strengths. It’s difficult, I know, to let go of being the one ‘in control’, to feel as if you are giving up your authority as a parent. But you are not! You’re actually becoming much more effective! This is the time to see the bigger picture of what you want your child to learn. You’ll be showing your child how people learn to compromise, what healthy relationships look like, and how parents do what’s best for their children, even when they are feeling resistant.

If you are inconsistent and not effective at following through on consequences, hand it off to your partner. Work through your resistance about taking the back seat. This is too important to let your ego get in the way. There is no shame. Think of it as a safety net of sorts for providing your kids with limits and growing responsibility. While they’d rather avoid the whole issue, they are really counting on you to do this. You know they need the limits and higher expectations, don’t you? Just at look at what happens when there are no limits and you lower the bar.

Talk it over. Decide who will be the enforcer. If it’s not you, let your partner be in the driver’s seat. Be more of an observer, and chime in to show your support.

Fern Weis is a certified life coach who learned that caring and good intentions are not enough in parenting.  In fact, they are often the problem! Fern supports parents of teens and young adults who are going through difficult situations, including addiction recovery.  She helps parents release guilt, end enabling and confidently prepare their children to thrive through life's challenges. Her articles are featured in Thrive Global, Medium, Motherly, The Teen Mentor, and Bergen County Moms.  

Learn more about coaching and classes at www.fernweis.com. And then download your free guide, "Five Powerful Steps to Get Your Teen to Talk." For information on Family Recovery programs, visit www.familyrecoverypartners.com.

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