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September 19, 2006


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Anne Glamore

First, LOVE Mixed Up Files. Finn loved it, too.

Bill and I try to handle discipline together - either switching off or at least in consultation on the major things. That way neither of us is always the Bad Cop.

If it's really bad, we'll have to impose punishment together, then retreat to the bedroom and console ourselves.

It gets easier, and you're right, the united front is key, I think.
Great pic!


In our house, it's about crimes and misdemeanors. My wife has the tough job of being the small claims court, holding the line on things like snacks, tooth brushing, wearing clean clothes. In this area I try to toe the line, but I'm the softy, the easy touch. This drives my wife nuts until a real crime takes place. I'm always the heavy here because I have THE DAD VOICE. So while she may be annoyed when I dole out a fruit snack, she's glad to step back and let THE DAD VOICE take over when the two year old is planting dental records on his older sister.

Her Bad Mother's Mother 'Hood

I so totally second you on Mixed-Up Files. The first time that I visited the MMA it was all that I could think about. I *still* thrill a little bit at the idea of sneaking inside a great museum and living there, hidden away, among the pictures and the artifacts.


Now, what was that you were saying about good cop/bad cop...?

Queen of Ass

I am the good cop and that bad cop. Sometimes its a miserable balance. Sometimes it's not a balance at all. But I don't think he's turning out so bad.


I got divorced.


Hey just text me and I'll be bad cop.

MD: Peanut I just texted what you did to bad cop Henri, now you're gonna get it. Ok here it comes. Bad cop Henri says...
UR teH baD PenUtzorrrs!

Oh did you hear that? Don't you regret what you did now? Bad Bad Penutzors!

Wendy Boucher

I hate it but I'm definitely the bad cop. I hear my Hubby saying things to Girlie like, "Your mom said that you have to get ready for bed now."

Yup, I'm the wet blanket on their fun.


I'm around kids all day, so i have a pretty high threshold for kids' crap. We are fortunate in that we have a pretty well-mannered chill kid. I chalk it up to nature AND nurture and a whole lot of consistency along the way. That said, hubby has the shorter fuse of the two of us and tends to come down harder and more swiftly than I do. We never spank, we just take away television and postpone favorite activities until she's done whatever she's been asked to do.


we follow FIFA's lead and focus on the instigator.

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah

I am totally the bad cop.

Sometimes it is okay.

Just Linda

The main thing we do? We keep each other in check.

Sometimes with kids, it's easy to go REAL bad cop... like, corrupt shake-down cop, like this-city-block-is-my-turf-and-you-will-pay-any-price-I-demand-for-my-protection cop.

When I get all bad-ass - too bad-ass - my husband will look at me like "Uh, Lin? She's FOUR. You're doing it again." and I'll know I need to back the truck up.

I do the same for him.

What a team we are...


I think "The Dirty Harry Guide to Parenting" might just be a future bestseller, MD. Get on it!


Our "Good Cop" is always the parent that's in the mood to practice patience and walk Little-E through the occasionally slow, trying (but important) steps of talking about why she's acting like a 2-year-old nutcase.

The "Bad Cop" is the one that didn't pull the trigger fast enough to be the initial disciplinarian, and is thus forced to bring the smack down when questions about "feelings" turn into shouts of "NO! I DON'T WANT TO! WAAAAA!"

At least we rotate.


"division of discplinary duties?" I wish. It all falls on me.

I can switch it on and off like a light switch--bad cop while scolding one boy, then smiling good cop a split second later as I turn to help another boy.

The hard part is making sure I don't carry anger towards one child to another child.

I used to be a total softie, but with 3 boys, I had to learn how to be a bitch sometimes.


Probably you should call yourselves 'Gentle-but-Firm Cops'.

I know it doesn't have the same ring, but it's a little more accurate, no?


I absolutely LOVED your ranking of the all-time best children's literature. "From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler" definitely has to be near the top of the list. It was one of my favorite books as a young child and I was so glad to see my kids get the same enjoyment from it as I did. My daughter pestered us constantly to take her to NYC, mainly just to go to the Met. Meanwhile, my son's favorite book has always been "James & the Giant Peach." Great choice, MD!


I would say I'm the Bad Cop. Most of the time, unless it's a really bad offense, my husband will tell Stinker Bell, "Listen to your mommy." Gee thank, hon. If we didn't agree on the "united front" there are times when I'd tell him to shut up. In front of her. But I try not to do that.

One thing we've tried that has actually worked is telling her about the consequences. For example, she's having a temper tamtrum. We say, "Stinker Bell, do you want to be in Time Out [the harshest punishment, even beyond spanking for her]?" She says, "No." We say, "Then quit throwing a tantrum, or you will be in Time Out."

That approach works. So far. Unfortunately, I've heard that the 3's are more terrible than the 2's and she will be 3 in December.

FWIW, there are many "mean moms" and "mean dads" out there. Check this out:


Be sure to see what is on the back of the shirts.

Mike Miller

I'm normally the bad cop. Mom and I are both pretty good at not letting the kids run wild, but if I'm around and it's time to bring order back to the house, it normally works better if I bring out the daddy voice.

I've been thinking about trying to find a company to outsource this responsibility to. Actually, I wouldn't mind doing this to the neighbor kids at all. Maybe we just need to get a group program going. I'll provide 3 bad cops to the neighbor's kids per week for the same in return.


Didn't I tell you about Timeout Lamby? Make him do your dirty work.

Liberal Banana

Eh, I just say let her do whatever she wants. Cookie? You got it. Don't wanna get in the stroller? Sweet - walking is great exercise. She can walk off the extra calories from all of those cookies. Problem solved.


Hi, I've been reading your blog for a few weeks. I really enjoy your gentle and thoughtful writing style. Humorous since I found you on the Zero Boss site and love his style as well.

I'm usually the bad cop. I feel guilty that my husband has to work and I want him to get a chance to have fun with the girls. Not worry about discipline. He doesn't have a problem being bad cop if he has too, but I don't mind the job at all. I minded it more when they were little. My youngest will be 7 next month.

I don't think of it as bad cop though. I think of it as teaching them to be proper adults. When you love and respect your kids, discipline is more about teaching than correcting.

I feel much better saying - lets get your room clean and surprise Daddy when he gets home- than I would saying - Clean up your rooms or no dessert. They learn to clean up either way. The first way they also learn to enjoy it.


Eh, both J and I are bad cops since we've got little time and short fuses. Also, it's easier when you have two because even if one hates your guts at the mo. you've got a back up that will kiss and hug on command.


Damn you...now I want some ice cream.


My daughter is only 14 months, but we both agree to back each other up.

So that pretty much means, we don't know yet.



Both parents need to be bad cop. Mom Bad Cop lays down the emotional beatdowns with the guilt and accusations. Dad Bad COp lays down the beatdown like I pulled a wallet out of my back pocket in NYC.

And when did you parents call you "Mister?"

I dunno if my Dad ever called me by my name, it was always "Yah, eenomu saekki yah!" I don't recommend you do that, I bet Bosslady with pull a Psycho Dirty Cop a la Gary Oldman from the Professional on you.


I hate to admit this, but I am definately the bad cop. My husband is the softy. I was raised in a time when kids were 'seen not heard' and it's hard to rise above that family history at times. Of course, now my mom is all easy going and spoils my kid, letting her get away with all the stuff that got me in deep trouble. Suddenly, her tactics are too harsh for my daughter!
P.S. Been a fan for a while (great writing!), just never commented before.

Suburban Turmoil

I loved "From the Mixed-Up Files" too! In fact, I still love going to museums and thinking about where I'd sleep and hang out if I lived there. :)

I hate it, but I'm the disciplinarian here. My husband just can't say no to any of our girls. With my two-year-old, if he has to tell her no, he says "Mommy says you can't have that." Unbelievable. I'd get mad, but other than this, he's like the best dad in the world, so I consider the good coppishness part of his charm.


I'm the disciplinarian. My husband hides upstairs.

Because he's a wuss.


I loved the "Mixed-Up Files" as a kid, and often contemplated doing the running away thing by stashing my violin and filling the case with clothes and splitting. Except I wouldn't have taken any of my siblings with me.

We take turns on the good cop/bad cop thing, but my husband is usually the bad cop. His dad was the bad cop and so that's what he assumes his role is going to be. His mother was the good cop, or as I call her, a sucker. She could not bear to discipline him at all (only child syndrome). As a result, my kids run rings around her.

So, I usually have to moderate my husband from going all Denzel Washington from "Training Day" on them, but they know not to cross me, either. The first time my in-laws saw me discipline the Munchkin for disobeying me, they were shocked because I didn't let my husband deal with it! My FIL said, "Wow... she's not going to get away with anything, is she?" The same man who has been a bad cop all his life has now become a pushover as a grandfather. Go figure.

Susie K.

I haven't thought about "Mixed Up Files" since I read it as a little kid. Just hearing you mention it brought back a flood of fond memories. Gonna go on Amazon.com now and order a copy for the girls. Thanks, MD!

My husband and I are both good cops and have a hard time disciplining our girls. I think it's partly because we both came from screwed up families. Thank God our girls are well behaved and don't take advantage of us!


Mixed-Up Files is definitely my all time favorite from my childhood, and it was an amazing feeling to read it with my daughter (8 yrs old) this summer, I fell in love with it all over again. She loved it as much as I did-priceless! CityMama had a blog last week where everyone shared their favorite book titles.

My husband and I are both Bad Cops, we back each other up. Our children have very strong personalities and are quite stubborn and willful, hmmm, wonder where they got that from?

I agree, my husband and I hate being tough and saying "no" it sucks to be the Bad Cop. I remember when my children hated being put in their stroller, the arching back or going all floppy-who teaches them that? It must be genetic or there is Temper Tantrum 101 being taught by some invisible squad of 2 year olds running around out there.


In our family, it is all about proximity; which ever parent is closer, gets to discipline.
Some days, when I have been after my little guy all day long, because it has just been one of "those" days, it is nice when my husband comes home with the Dad Voice. I must say that it is an unfair advantage that all men can do that deep booming voice that says, "stop now or face your doom", and women can't.

I think that if you share the parenting, you should share the good cop/bad cop times too. For your sanity and to keep the Peanut guessing.

Lady M.

With 4 young boys in our house, both my husband and I are ALWAYS playing bad cop with one kid or another. The bandits have us cops outnumbered so we're constantly trying to find new recruits!


In our house, we both do it. Really whoever is closest gets to be bad cop. But we try to always back each other up. I don't like to be bad cop either, but I know it's better than having "those" kids.

I sooooo want some ice cream right now.


Rock, Paper, Scissors all the way, my friend.

Can't argue with it(you throw what you know), totally random (so it keeps the Bean on his toes)...

RPS is really the solution to every situation.

metro mama

We have trouble with this one. Neither of us want to be the bad copy, but we know we have to set limits. We try to present a united front. Our other problem is, we both have Jane sometimes when the other isn't present--sometimes we find out later we let her do things the other doesn't.

andy b

In our house it is a pretty even split of bad cop. We have tried our best to be consistent and think that is paying off.

The 10 yr old girl is becoming quite an efficient provider of quick correction to the 3 yr old boy as well, she really keeps us in check on consistency, nothing gets by her.

The one place where I (Dad) am the predominate Bad Cop is in the car. Regardless of whether I am driving or riding, I lay down the law with the 'quit it now or the car is going to be pulled over and we are going to talk have a not so fun talk.' We only had to do that once with the girl, scared her straight. The boy has been to the bumper for a talk about 6 times now...he is bright, but not a quick learner. (and no the talk at the bumper does not involve spanking, but we do spank if the perp is violent to another)


I'd just like to say that you are my hero, if for no other reason than the fact that I've been trying to remember what the Encyclopedia Brown series was called.

My very favorite children's book is Ender's Game.

Other good ones:

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engel
Sun and Spoon - I actually can't remember...
Animal Farm - George Orwell

I guess that last one isn't exactly for children, but when I have 'em, I fully plan on giving it to them around 10 or so and seeing what they make of it...

Ryan O'Rourke

Where else am I going to read a post about parenting that references James & the Giant Peach, John McEnroe, and Serpico? First time commenter here, MetroDad. Have to admit I was making fun of the whole daddy blog concept until I started reading you and daddytypes. Thanks for the entertainment. As an older dad to 3 kids, I'm having fun watching you newbies get put through your paces. All the best to you!

JJ Daddy Baby Momma

Good Cop/Bad Cop dilemma solved.

Rock/Paper/Scissor for it.


Do you watch The Office? Just curious, because "From the Mixed Up Files" was mentioned in one of the last episodes of last season (which I saw in a rerun a couple of weeks ago.) I thought it was cool that they brought it up, since it was such a great kids book.


We are definitely along the lines of Ned Flanders' beatnik parents - "We don't believe in discipline, like...you gotta help us Doc - we've tried nothin', and we're all out of ideas..."


Well, we haven't had to manage it much, not yet, but I'm usually the bad cop. You know, junior high school teacher and all. Not like I've had any experience with the role. It's not fun.

God I loved "From the mixed up files ... " I must have read that book at least 14 times. I wanted to be a palentologist because that's what one of them (can't remember which) wanted to be. I didn't know what a paleontologist was but I wanted to be it.


I agree that a united front is absolutely necessary. And in our house, both me and Rigel are so damned cranky it's definitely Bad Cop/Bad Cop.

That said, we don't believe in spanking, but I think a healthy dose of fear, er - I mean respect - is a good thing in parenting.

Bad Cop

That's me. The bad one.

My huz does the "mommy says you can't do that"

BAD parenting. I correct him all the time.


Hands down, Herr and I are both bad cops. Sometimes we are Bad Cop/Badder Cop. And sometimes we are Bad Cop/Pissed Off Cop. Sigh.


Daddy is all fun and I'm all business. That's how it's been so far, at least. Even though I'm in marketing, I suck at selling unpopular ideas, like "Let's take a bath!" My husband excels in making the most drab tasks seem fun.

Guess I'm just one of those grumpy moms.


In our home, Daddy is definitely the bad cop. All he has to do is lower his voice an octave and the kids will wither in fear. Sometimes, I have to tell him to ease up because I worry that it will affect his relationships with the kids. However, he comes from school of hard knocks. Anything less than tough love is pandering to him.



We don't play GoodCopBadCop; We're more like Law and Order. Wife is Law and I'm Order. She lays it down and I enforce. Remember that consistency is the most important thing. Without it, she will play both of you like a game of musical chairs.

It's a war out there. I have (3) teenagers and a young adult at home.

Parent On!


My hubbie is the disgruntled "bad cop" b/c he doesn't want to be one, and Mommy's, of course, THE "good cop".

Love the picture of Peanut by the way! I can see why you don't want to be "bad cop" with her.

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