It never ceases to stop me in my tracks when I hear my husband intone to our children one of the oft overused phrases from my stockpile of, “Can you just not?” categories.
It is both somewhat bizarre and refreshing to hear him exclaim: “Are you serious? Why do you have to do this now? You had all evening and the minute I tell you it’s time for bed, you decide that now is the time for this carry-on?”
The ‘carry-on’ he was referring to was the re-enactment of The Battle of Waterloo that our son was currently attempting to stage on his bedroom floor as my husband called time on the day.
What struck me most was the sheer incredulity he expressed at the situation, almost that he could not fully comprehend the logic which our children employed in the form of avoidance tactics in relation to having to spend a few hours horizontal and in silence.
“There’s no point questioning it. But you might want to check what the other one is up to considering she’s fond of test-tubes and sticking electrodes into spuds.”
In our house, Himself is the fun parent. The Good-Cop if you will.
Which leaves only one option for me. Therefore, I derive intense happiness during the few instances where he assumes the Killjoy role.
Regarding more pressing parental issues, we are very much on the same page. Which makes the whole Bad-Cop rep, which I have been assigned, a little easier to shoulder. Where our parenting styles differ is highlighted in the day to day, hum-drum pace of the routine.
Our children were astute enough to note same, one in particular. The same one who creates Franken-Spud in her bedroom.
Searches online in relation to the topic of ‘Good Cop/Bad Cop Parenting’, will in turn yield some pretty grim stats and articles advising to avoid it at all costs.
One particular paper from a leading University studied the families and the effects of the aforementioned style of parenting upon children as they grew.
The study revisited the participants at the ages of 12, 14 and in some instances, up to 20 years of age. This, is where I logged off.
We live in an era of parenting which brings with it so much freedom and opportunity for our children. We have a plethora of information at our fingertips.
But with this knowledge, it also brings the doubt that we must be doing something incorrectly. For the most part, my addled theory is one of, if my children feel I’m doing it wrong then I must be doing it right. Yet, even with that scant, and wildly unproven, thought, you cannot fail on occasion to feel that you may very well be making a hash job of the whole situation.
I remember sitting amongst a number of parents a few years back, all with new babies and toddlers. Our children were the oldest of the group and what quickly transpired was that our parenting skills appeared to be pre-historic in comparison to everyone else present: despite there being a mere five-year gap between our kids and the next in line at the table.
Talk turned to an app that everyone appeared to be using to chart the leaps and progressions of their offspring. When someone enquired as to if we had used it, our reply was to state that it had not been available when our kids were younger.
A general air of curiosity as to how we managed without this glorious advance in tech arose. We simply shrugged our shoulders.
Because asking how we managed without an app that told us when to expect our child to throw a wobbler or when they would radiate sunbeams, is up there with a study that would chart the repercussions of our parenting upon our children as they transition into adulthood. I want neither.
I certainly do not want to predict my kids’ futures. Even if that is as simplistic as measuring leaps and bounds on my phone.
Nor do I want to know that my style of parenting might be one to avoid today but could be the hot flavour next month. I do not want to know if I’m doing it right or if I’m doing it wrong. I just want to muddle us all through, relatively unscathed and still speaking.
If it means I have to embody Bad-Cop, well so be it. I’m fine with that, so long as, on occasion, himself breaks out the, “Can you just not?” playbook to give me respite. But mainly to give me a break from picking up numerous miniature men from the floor, primed for battle, before we’ve had a chance to have breakfast.