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The fear of being the bad cop

by admin

The fear of being the bad guy

We all know that when it comes to kids, one of the most common forms of discipline and / or parenting is the tried and tested good cop / bad cop routine. As cheesy and outdated (according to the Nanny McFee types of this modern world) as it appears, there is no denying that it works. In our house it was typically Renee that was the voice of reason and sympathy, while I seemed to excel at the ranting, raving, temple-vein-popping bad guy. (surprise surprise 🤣)

Now, as you’d imagine, I really don’t give two-fifths-of-fuck-all if this is acceptable parenting in this cotton wool wrapped society of ours today. And I don’t believe for a second, anyone that pipe’s up with “we would never do this in our house”, because, well, you’re a lying sack of shit.

Anyway, onto the point of this whole shebang.

We had a little occurrence today, and by “occurrence” I mean G had a semi meltdown for reasons I’m still trying to fathom. There were tears, scowls, an extended period of arm crossing and back turning and, of course, accusations and falsification of numerous facts.

The event itself is of no consequence, we all know that this shit happens way too frequently to deserve an in-depth post-game analysis. Suffice to say, there came a moment in the spat that bad cop / angry Dad was the only logical and appropriate course of action.

Which, while the veins in my temple were still throbbing, brought the matter to a timely and effective close. I felt strong, authoritive and very parentey.

But then I realised I had to follow through.

The car ride home was icy at best, but it was when we got inside and my myriad of consequences came in to effect, the proverbial really hit the fan. After all the moment had passed and everyone was seemingly ok again.

But rather than feeling strong and authoritive, I felt worried and cautious. Why? Because during the consequent tears and tirades of unfairness, I was concerned that I was driving an irretrievable wedge into my relationship with G, a relationship that has been forged upon connection and similarity, on comradere and unity. And here I was smashing those barriers with an angry Dad ice pick.

I felt (irrationality) that I was pushing her away, and at such a pivotal age in a young girl’s life, that it could spell disaster for our future relationship as father & daughter. And I don’t have any backup this time.

Don’t worry though my empathetic friends, it was naturally nowhere near as dramatic and tenuous as my overly active mind makes out. It’s nigh on 3 hours later and you would be hard pressed to imagine such a catastrophic event had even taken place.

It has in retrospect, however, brought to mind the potential fragility of the solo parent’s emotions. Had Renee been here, I would surely have continued the upset, bad cop routine until Renee had coaxed a “look how upset you’ve made your father” apology from the stubborn little offender. Yet I realise today that this is the first time I have “stuck to my guns” since her passing. (in a meaningful way)

Yes it all worked out OK. Yes I hope that this was a lesson hard earned for the little witch, and indeed myself. But I feel this is an overlooked, if even contemplated, negative to being a solo parent.

We don’t get to be the bad cop and the good cop at the same time. Can you imagine the confusion as we go from ranting and raving to hair stroking and cuddles?

There is a subconscious need to be everything and all in our defined roles within the core family unit. There is no avoiding it and no changing the fact. It is simply something that we have to grapple with, make concessions for and try our hardest to be. Which yes, sucks big hairy balls most of the time, but is infinitely rewarding when accomplished in even the most fleeting of moments.

I hope that there are a few of you out there that read this, breathe a sigh of relief and pour that 3rd glass of wine, knowing that you are not insane or even remotely unique in your fears.

For me, however, I feel empowered. To be the bad cop and/or the good cop when needed. I think I’ve finally realised that I can be everything the kids need. I can bring these little monkeys up without fear of adequacy. They don’t judge me for only being a Dad, in fact if I do it right, they may even just admire me for it.

So if you’re bogged down in the trenches of solo parenting, fear not, your kids appreciate everything you do way more than you suspect. Even when you’re a grumpy, swearing, tactless shit. ✌

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Anonymous May 20, 2018 - 10:16 am

You’ve totally got this! Keep up the great work

Anonymous May 20, 2018 - 10:22 am

You pretty well summed up my day here as well!

Anonymous May 20, 2018 - 10:28 am


Anonymous May 20, 2018 - 10:37 am

I so hear you on this one, Chris. It has been one of my toughest realisations that there is very little room for the good cop because the bad cop somehow had to out in full force every day. I’m not sure the kids notice but I certainly do. I remember what it was like to be able to ‘switch’ between the two and to be able to be the good one once in a while l, I think it often does make for a more balanced parent when you can but alas we do the best we can..

Anonymous May 20, 2018 - 10:37 am

You got this!!!

Anonymous May 20, 2018 - 10:50 am

Very well said. xx

Anonymous May 20, 2018 - 11:02 am

The lessons of life are often learnt from bad cop… which is why I am now choosing to call it “LOL Cop” because at the end of the day we do it out of “lots of love” and even get to “laugh out loud” later. LOL cop is always doing what they think is best for said “demon child” at the time and if that means I’m a bad cop, I wear the badge with pride. And I’m sure you do too?

Just A Dad May 20, 2018 - 12:34 pm

Oh hell yes!

Anonymous May 20, 2018 - 11:13 am

Your gorgeous girl will continue to push the barriers at different stages, it’s what us amazing females are best at stick to your guns and there’ll be plenty of time for hair stroking and cuddles

Anonymous May 20, 2018 - 11:27 am

Your doing a great job. We bring our kids up to survive one day in the real world. Puberty with girls is hard. They start young and the mood swings and the comments ” like Whatever” when you are trying to discipline at times in these early years are hard to hear. I felt bad at times , however i said to daughters yes i know your going through changes and get frustrated easy , however if you speak or behave in a way that is disrespectful and carry on then you are only making a mountain over a molehill. But must admit as a dad on your own must be hard. When kids are little its easier .

Anonymous May 20, 2018 - 11:27 am

That would have to be one of the hardest parts of solo parenting. You can’t play both good and bad cop. The guilt you feel when you fight with your child and not step down from it so they don’t walk all over you is hard, because there is no one else there to help. It literally just has to have time to cool heads and cuddle later. I still to this day struggle with that and I have a new partner which is an amazing step father to my kids but even so, it does feel like you’re solo parenting at times due to the restrictions step parents have. They’re busy trying to build that relationship of acceptance with the kids while you’re being the parent. Two different gigs.
The guilt parents feel is enormous. Constantly questioning if we’re stuffing up. We’re not alone in that one hahahaha

Anonymous May 20, 2018 - 11:29 am

Dont doubt yourself. You know who your wife was and what values she wanted for the kids. I feel so sad for you all.

Anonymous May 20, 2018 - 11:46 am

Hugs you’re doing a stellar job

Anonymous May 20, 2018 - 12:06 pm

Wow man, great piece. Even though I’m not a solo parent, I too get these doubts. I guess we’re all just winging it.

Just A Dad May 20, 2018 - 12:34 pm

Cheers man!

Anonymous May 20, 2018 - 10:11 pm

You’re an amazing dad and G and A will look back in awe at your efforts to ensure they had a happy and stable childhood. You manage the discipline/love balance perfectly and that’s why they are such great kids to be around xxx

Anonymous May 20, 2018 - 10:12 pm

Thanks Sare – I’ll ask you the same question after 2 weeks in Thailand 🤣🤣

Anonymous May 22, 2018 - 11:51 am

I struggle to understand how anyone could cope doing what you do Chris , however it’s after reading this I realize that I too , am the bad cop !

This is truth mate , down & dirty in the trenches of being a parent.

Keep up the great work bad cop

Just A Dad May 22, 2018 - 11:57 am

Cheers mate 🙂

Anonymous May 23, 2018 - 7:21 am

You’re only human and you’re doing an amazing job, at good cop AND bad cop. Just wait until you have two teenagers .


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