Good cop ....bad cop.....wanna swap?

Gail Kotze, July 2008

So the kids know right? They know it's Dad they ask when they want to have a sleep out, in a mouldy tent, on the back lawn, with weather forecasts of 5 degrees and steady rain. And they know it's Mum they ask at 6pm on Sunday night when they need help with their social studies assignment which is due on Monday morning.

The kids have got you sussed! Whether it's through 'personality analysis' (!) or smart timing our kids are pretty on the ball when it comes to asking for things that they want.

Whilst watching Brothers and Sisters on T.V. the other night my son exclaimed "Oh my gosh! That is just the kind of thing you would do Mum. She SO reminds me of you!" I stared back at the screen and looked anew at the character. Straight away, I knew my son was eerily accurate. "Wow, he sees me", I thought, "He sees me !". Out of the mouths of Babes" - so the saying goes.

Have you ever wondered how it is that your child 'sees you'?

We all have a uniqueness that influences the roles we play. Dad might be 'the emotive perfectionist' while Mum is 'the laid back stabilizer'. Mum might be 'the soft touch negotiator' whilst Dad is 'the firm layer down of the law'. In all relationships we make space and find our niche. Generally, when this is respectfully done between parents, the push and pull, light and shade of their roles weaves the unique dynamic that makes up their family. Sometimes though we can find ourselves cornered into a role that we no longer want, that doesn't work or perhaps a role that stops us from stepping into a different role as much as we'd like.

The expression 'he was angry enough for both of us' explains well how a partner might influence our behaviour. When one person is so proudly the organiser it might not leave anyone else (including their partner) room to be this. Feelings of frustration or inadequacy can step in. Even, as a single parent we have a certain ways we see ourselves - a certain 'parental identity' that can disallow us ways of being we might prefer.

How might it be to step away from 'planned and organised' and into 'we'll go where the breeze takes us' - even just for an afternoon? Or how might it be for 'the timekeeper' to take a break sometimes and be able to hand her watch over to Dad? Likewise it might be good for Dad to come home and find that consequences have already been metered out and he is free to cuddle by the fire with the kids and be 'just loving' tonight.

Is there a part of your parenting role you would like to play more often? Good cop / Bad cop....wanna swap?

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