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September 19, 2006


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I totally love your sidebar list of the greatest children's literature books! Couldn't agree more. Only one I might add is the Ramona collection.


I loved From the Mixed-up Files too. I've given it to a couple of my nieces, and I can't wait until K is old enough to get into real books like that.

I am Bad Cop around here. My husband is a total pushover!


Consistency all the way from both of us.
We do this thing where we recognize the behavior and offer an alternative . "I know it's tons of fun to stick a fork in the outlet, but how about we play with the fascinating toy block over here."
I'm sorry to say three is worse than two. They become master manipulators.


James and the Giant Peach is the BEST!!!!!

I'm de-lurking, and from what I've read of your posts, you sound like an attentive, thoughtful dude-dad.

And hey, you two are the parents! It's completely o.k. to deny the cookies and ice cream. Because you and the Boss Lady are the ONLY ONES who'll guard the Peanut from a lifetime of cavities and sugar-addiction.

We don't think of it as policing — it's "guiding" and "structuring." (How does that sound?) If you stay consistent, the Peanut will get used to it, and so will you.

Then all the years of practicing this will prepare you for the teen years...yipee! ;)


Both R2Mum and Dad trade being the bad cop--like most of the people in here. Our problem--we both start cracking up 3/4 of the way through our schpeil, ruining the whole routine. Then the R2 runs around being naughty and just making things worse. Worse than the Timeout Lamby: Ratty, the transient rat that lives in the neighborhood that we can call in to eat R2's toes when he's a timeout out on the stoop. I know, we're evil...


What a terrific post! I linked to it and gave my own thoughts here:


It seems typepad has trackbacks disabled for the moment.

Thanks for great food for thought!


In our house the older son does the bad cop, younger son is good cop, daughter takes bribes and fences the goods. We usually end up doing what they want pretty quickly.

L. Lee

I'm so jealous that you even THINK about all of these parenting issues. My husband doesn't help out with the parenting duties AT ALL! He would NEVER think about being the bad cop.


It's funny, I was talking with my mom a couple of days ago about how rotten my two younger brothers have been over the last few years (currently ages 16 and 20), and she quipped that the "Terrible Two's" were a walkin the park compared to dealing with (pubescent) teenage boys.

At least you have a few more years to prepare yourself... from what I hear, the worst is yet to come! ;)

Mama Nabi

Well, PN is convinced that he's the bad cop - we'll see about that when LN learns how to give (or perfect) the little puppy dog eyes. This man has no idea how unscrupulous females can be when we need (want) something. Meanwhile, I'm okay with being the bad cop if it concerns her health and safety... it's when she says "dan dy" (candy) so cutely that I have a hard time...


The good Dr. V. is the "Reading-The-Paper-While-Watching-Sports-On-TV-And-Making-Empty-"Do-You-Want-A-Time-Out?"-Threats-But-Not-Getting-Out-Of-The-Recliner-To-Enforce-The-Rules" Cop.

Which is why *I'm* the Bad Cop.


I loved Jonathan Livingston Seagull. It was a great source of comfort for me when I was younger and felt "different" from all my peers. It's such a special book and I can't wait for my kids to read it. Did you know that the author (Richard Bach) claims he didn't write the book? That it appeared to him in a series of visions? Weird, huh?


How do we handle the division of discplinary duties? It's all MOMMY! My husband doesn't do CRAP when it comes to parenting. I think that's why I secretly have a crush on you and all the other great daddy bloggers out there.


Well, let me first say that I totally love "From the Mixed Up Files..."--absolutely one of my favorite books. The last time we were in NYC, we went to the Met, and we spent a lot of time trying to decide which of the beds was the best one to hide under.

As far as bad cop goes, I think it's fair to say that we've both been bad cop on any given day. I'm just happy when I'm not The Bad Lieutenant.

Linda Freedman (Therapy Doc)

So happy to have found you.

I grew up like you did, and hated it so much I had to become a shrink.

Anyway, in my humble opinion, a kid should see both parents as, well, BIG. They do, anyway, cause they're little.

So if either LARGE parent (you're both large in their eyes, really, really large) independently just reaches down and firmly picks up a kid-- that's enough to produce the FEAR FACTOR.

If both 'rents are around, then one picks up said kid and gently (but firmly if he/she's fighting you) confines the miscreant to the Green Chair (need not be green, ours was).

The other 'rent hovers close by and shows support for the procedure, and can even say things like, You'll be all right. You just can't act like. .do. .. What-ev.

Kid awaits bail or release on good behavior. You should get an apology, and you shouldn't have to keep a little tyke more than a couple of minutes.

I start this intervention at age 2 and end it at 21.

Oh, and enjoy the whole thing. It goes by way to fast. Linda


Truly excellent post, MD. You bring up issues that I think we all struggle with.

Back when I was pregnant, Nate used to say, "get used to it. You're going to be the disciplinarian and I'm going to be the fun one." I haaaaated that. I wanted to be the fun one!

Now I think he's sort of both. I'm just the one who brings home the milk at night.


HOnestly, we trade off. Like chores and other tough jobs... We usually do the handoff verbally. "Honey, this one is all you.." or something like that. It gets harder when you have a grillion kids...


I'm the disiplinarian. It seems the only person the husband is good at yelling at is me. Go figure. I'll put Archer in time out and Hal's like "You don't need to put him in time-out."

I wish I could my husband in time-out.


P.S. Peanut i SO cute. Archer wantsa piece...(ahem) of her ice-cream.


I was always the bad cop because I was the one who was home with them and I always dealt with things immediately. My husband couldn't discipline his way out of a paper bag -- he is very mild-mannered so keeping order has fallen to me. The kids are in high school now and are pretty well-behaved, mostly because they are just good kids, but one loves his car and one loves his Xbox so I have leverage if they start to act up.


Great entry... I completely forgot about Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler!

My husband and I battle with this dilemma as well. Usually he ends up being the "Bad Cop" because I'm weak and won't follow through with my threats.


When it comes to discipline, we ask the following questions of ourselves, and each other:

1) is it REALLY such a big deal that s/he does this?

2) are you willing to go to battle over this each and every time, from now until eternity (or kindergarten, whichever comes first)?

My favourite thing to hear from THe Lovely Wife is this:
"I wasn't going to say anything to The Toddler about it, but if it's that important to you, I'll back you up".

Might as well just say, "Dude. Chill."

Wait. What was the question?


If a bad cop is required I ask my dad to come over.


What a cute photo of the Peanut. She's so adorable. Makes me want to run out and get some ice cream!


Toddler Serpico. Classic.

We're still figuring it out, but since ours is only 19 mos we still get by with random rules like, "We don't wear shoes in the house" when she insists on shoes on, or "Puppy doesn't come to breakfast" about her lovey. Right now, she's so hell bent on language she walks around mumbling the rule, but we can already see the end of that tunnel and we have no idea.


Because pumpkinpie has always been such a daddy's girl and he hates seeing how much it smarts when she tells me she doesn't love me (yes, she does that on occasion, but it doesn't last), he is making a point of stepping in at least as often as I to make sure he's not sweetening the deal with her.

What I'm working on is becoming the Ignorer. And I want him to start too, but haven't had time to discuss. Some tantrums are just better left unanswered.

LA Daddy

I've been going through this. LA Toddler is 2 and change now. LA Mommy and I have been trading off on "bad" cop. But my problem is I don't have that whole "nurturing, food-providing, super-soft feminine thing" going on for me. So when I play bad cop, the little one can really hold a grudge. Mom is forgiven instantly.


My mom was actually the bad cop while my dad was the good cop. She didn't have to resort to threatening to call our dad. In public places, all she had to do was look towards the public restroom and my sister and I immediately toed the line.


We're both the good cop and the bad cop. We've decided on some things that we will give in on and things we won't and we don't let him play one of us against the other. Amazing how quickly they catch on to that little trick!

Loved "Mixed-up Files..." too and it's on my list of books I'll share with my kid that I did for the Sesame St. anniversary meme that Lovely Mrs. Davis suggested a month or so ago. All excellent choices, MD.


First time comment. I LOVE "From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler." I always think of the kids sleeping in the old antique bed, dining in the automat, etc. I LOVE that book and I want to read it again (over 15 years later). Your blog is great, too. :)


I am get all the respect around here and do all the dirty work. Papa and princess doan play that way. I guess I'll be 2nd generation tough mama.

Although, I have started to put the "daddy wouldn't like it if we...." without him knowing it.

ps.. have you read any Dahl as an adult? I loved him as a kid but now I think it's all women hating and drugs.. green capsules?? what is that about?

Dad in Progress

Whenever things are getting wily with the girls, my wife always says "can you please come in here and deal with this?" She HATES to be the bad cop. And I don't mind being the bad cop at all -- I just hate being the bad cop all the time. Why do we want to flee the discplinarian role all the time? Is there some sense of fulfillment in having a child say "I want mommy" when daddu is being the jerk?


I don't think I've ever clicked "FEED" as fast as when I happened upon your blog! Primo!!

And I totally agree about "Mixed Up Files"!!



My kiddo's tia actually does the dirty harry thing. She hangs a squirt bottle from the neck hole on her shirt and my 1 and a half year old daughter gets squirted after a "go ahead make my day" warning.

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