Good Cop, Bad Cop

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There's this new game I have been playing with my partner-in-crime (aka husband, roommate, Daddy-in-Training, Guy Who Never Does Dishes) since we welcomed our first child, Little D, into our lives 5 months ago. Thing is, we didn't realize we were playing it-and I certainly didn't agree to the terms. Charles and I have been together for a long time...long enough to have a kid just shy of being allowed into a PG-13 movie solo; had we chosen to have one when we first started "talking" (that was his word for dating). During that party-of-two stretch, we talked about how we imagined life would be if we had children, how we'd rear them, what life we'd want to provide for them and the values we'd instill in them. Of course, now that we have our baby daughter, it's all been about just getting through the day-to-day. (Seriously, just bathing ourselves is still a challenge.) But what's become oh so clear in this short time is how I've somehow emerged as Bad Cop Mama in some ways: the one who lets the baby cry for a while, leaves her to play by herself on the floor/swing/chair and lets her go hungry compared to Good Cop Papa. He, on the other hand, will jump to D's side at the slightest whimper, won't leave D unless someone else is in the room with her and will use all of Mama's stored milk (that I struggled to pumpfor days, by the way) or fill a bottle to the rim with formula to feed his baby the minute she starts fussing...even if she was just fed. In short, D's Papa gives her anything and everything he thinks she wants, even if (I think) she doesn't need it. And why shouldn't he, right? Why can't parents all play good cops when caring for a child at this tender age? The thing is, in my mind, I think I am the good cop and the Guy Who Doesn't Clean Bottles Either is the bad cop for those same reasons.
  • I'm allowing my baby to express herself, whether it's a sob, a cry, a giggle or a scream-for extended intervals on occasion. :) Good cop!
  • I'm letting D explore "the world" (anything within arm's reach or eyeshot) on her own, under my watchful eye (in the adjoining room). Good cop!
  • As for this whole hungry business, I think a mama knows if her baby is hungry or not. I'm teaching D that I know you love me, but I can't have you attached to my nipple 24-7. In short, mother knows best! Good cop!
With Halloween upon us, I've decided to try out Papa's "Good Cop" behavior for the week to see the world through Charles' eyes, and to turn the tables on this parenting game. Will my baby be confused by a mama who doesn't let her cry, never leaves her side and will feed her all day? Will she love me more or wonder what someone did to her "Good Cop" Mama? We'll see...

Would you describe yourself as a good cop or bad cop parent or caregiver?

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