Monthly Archives: September 2014

Good Guy; Bad Guy

Not once, not twice, but THREE times this week, I overheard three different women offer parenting advice along these lines:

“It was hard to teach my child [this lesson]. But, thankfully, my husband/friend/doctor agreed to be the bad guy! So, all I had to say was, “Sorry, but Daddy said no.” And then I didn’t feel so bad!”

Honestly, I can’t believe this is a prevalent problem.  But three times in one week convinced me to write about it.

One person made her husband the “bad guy” when it was time to stop breastfeeding. Another blamed the doctor for “no more pacifiers.” The last one was shopping with a friend when the kids wanted a treat, and the friend agreed to say, “I’m allergic to ice-cream.”


Most amazingly, all these ladies recommended their good-guy/bad-guy method to others, saying, “It worked great!”

Now, ignoring the fact that mothers shouldn’t need someone to blame while parenting their kids in the first place… No, wait, actually, I can’t ignore that.


Are we clear?

I understand it isn’t fun to put your foot down when kids start crying. But looking for another person to blame means you’re *afraid* of that meltdown. It means the child wears the pants, and you need somebody else to stand behind–like a shield–because you can’t do it yourself.

That’s not just sad–it’s also unloving. You can’t be afraid of your child’s misbehavior AND do what’s best for him/her. In fact, if your ultimate goal is to raise kind, thoughtful, self-controlled adults, you won’t let something as small as tears and tantrums stand in your way. Focus on the goal, and be bold!

That leads to point #2.

I think these ladies are VERY confused about what defines a “good” guy and a “bad” guy. I’d like to ask them how Daddy and Doctor are “bad,” for guiding the child into the next phase of growth? How is it “bad” to help the child learn things like self-control and respect for authority?

…on the other hand, would you really say the “good guy” thing to do is let children use a pacifier until they’re 21-years-old?

These mothers are agreeing with the way their children use the words “good guy” and “bad guy,” even though a child’s view is over-simplified. Kids don’t understand that unpleasant things may be good for them. It’s the parents’ job to teach them not all good things FEEL good.

It really saddens me that so many mothers would rather enjoy the easy, “good cop” role than learn and practice a more grown-up definition of “good.”

(“Those who love their children care enough to discipline…” Prov. 13:24)