Good Cop, Bad Cop Parenting
Why is it called ‘Good Cop, Bad Cop’?
The “good cop, bad cop” technique is a psychological tactic that law enforcement officers frequently employ during negotiations and interrogations.
Parenting is a difficult job. As a result, it’s common for parents to disagree on how to approach certain situations with their children. When parents, on the other hand, give mixed messages, the entire family suffers – whether you recognize it or not.
The “good cop, bad cop” technique is a frequent psychological tactic used by police enforcement in negotiations and interrogations. However, the word has now evolved to apply to a parenting style in which one parent, known as the “bad cop,” administers all punishments and enforces all regulations, while the other parent, known as the “good cop,” stands back and only participates in the enjoyable elements of parenting.
While this may appear to be a viable approach (and perhaps even the parenting style your own parents employed), research today reveals that it is detrimental to spouse relationships and home dynamics in general.
This Parenting Style Destroys Marriage
It’s no surprise that children have an impact on a couple’s relationship. Legal & General recently polled over 1,200 parents and discovered some disturbing findings about the influence of the “Good Cop, Bad Cop” parenting technique. In fact, according to the report, 90 percent of parents disagree about the best approach to reprimand or reward their children. The majority of parents believe that the other parent sets a poor example for their children. Fathers often feel like they don’t have any support when it comes to disciplining their children because 42.5 percent of mothers believe fathers are too harsh.
When there are significant disparities in work patterns, this breakdown becomes even more pronounced. Nearly 40% of full-time working parents believe they are more likely to play the “bad cop” role and are nearly three times as likely to believe the other parent is preferred. This is likely why studies show that once a couple has children, their relationship worsens and that couples with children are roughly twice as likely to divorce.
Parenting that is “Good Cop, Bad Cop” also skews parent-child relationships.
While it’s easy to see how this parenting style can destroy marriages, the influence it has on parent-child interactions may not be so obvious at first. On the other hand, demonstrated how harmful this parenting style can be for both children and their parents.
When this parenting style is used to its maximum potential, secrets start to form all throughout the house. Children conceal secrets from the parent they perceive as the “bad policeman,” even going so far as to inform the “good cop” and include them in the secrecy. The “good policeman” wants their child to trust them, so they keep the secret – even if it means harming their marriage and their child’s bond.
Furthermore, when the children witness the good cop failing to support the bad cop, they lose all respect for the bad cop. Instead of following the rules, the children perceive the parent who imposes them as the enemy. They regard her as the household’s adversary. If the kids are going to follow the rules, she’ll need the good cop’s help. According to psychologists, this can lead to a false sense of entitlement in children, or, worse, complete disrespect for rules and social etiquette.
If you notice indicators of the “good cop, bad cop” parenting trap developing in your family, you can begin working with your partner on some basic remedies to help prevent the dynamic from becoming habitual. To begin, chat with your partner and see if you can establish any common ground. Once you’ve established a more solid parenting foundation, you may commit to sticking to these guidelines and ironing out any inconsistencies as they arise.
When you and your partner have a disagreement in front of the kids, set a signal to let your partner know that you need to talk about it before dealing with the problem. In fact, experts believe that 95 percent of problems don’t require immediate resolution, so it’s not the end of the world if you and your spouse take a break. It’s preferable to be unified in front of the kids and support one another than to make rash decisions that lead to conflict and strain family connections.