I see the good cop/bad cop parenting dynamic a lot. The other day, I was at the park having a picnic, and a couple with a young toddler was picnicking next to me. Their kid saw a very young puppy she wanted to go pet. The dad almost instantly said, “Yes, you can pet the puppy!” and the mom said, “That puppy is very young—we should ask if he’s had his vaccines yet.” The dad said, “Ah. It’s just a dog. Dogs are good for kids!” They had this back and forth until, eventually, the person with the puppy was long gone. The toddler didn’t get to pet the puppy. And the dad sat back, angry, giving the silent treatment. Their picnic was clearly ruined. They both had excellent points, if you ask me, but neither was willing to look at things from the other’s perspective. It was a bad cop/good cop situation and you can see how it ruined their mood and dynamic that day—and perhaps for life. It’s no surprise that having kids is one of the life changes that causes divorce, even. Here is why the good cop/bad cop parenting dynamic can ruin marriages.
The bad cop’s efforts are overlooked
The bad cop can put in tons of work—running the kids to their doctor’s appointments all day, building the baby-proof den, and other not-so-fun acts—and all the good cop focuses on in is the fact that the kids won’t be allowed to eat candy that night. Because it’s a “school night.” Meanwhile, the bad cop is left sitting there thinking, everything I do gets overlooked because I only handle the mundane stuff.