In my household it is becoming abundantly clear that the Old Git and I have very defined, contrasting roles. He is the fun, playful parent who gets a hero’s welcome as soon as he steps in through the front door and I am the strict, bossy parent associated with all the boring, mundane tasks of family life. Quite frankly, I’m fed up of being the bad cop and of being perceived as the ultimate kill joy by my kids.
As the primary caregiver, I am responsible for feeding the kids, washing them, making sure they do their homework, tidy their rooms, go to bed on time etc. I ensure everything gets done as required. I am also the disciplinarian who tries to instil some sense of right and wrong in the best way I can. My latest challenge is dealing with the constant backchat from Flump, who, at the grand old age of seven, thinks she knows everything and can do as she pleases. Big sigh. In essence I have to do the really important but crappy part of parenting, with zero gratitude of course. Meanwhile the Old Git strolls in and gets the red carpet treatment.
Of course I understand that the Old Git works really hard and that the kids don’t get to see him as much, hence they are super excited when he makes an appearance. I also understand that as the primary caregiver I am the less exciting option. I can deal with that. But what I find hard is the Old Git’s reluctance to exercise discipline and order. I suspect he is so tremendously happy to see the children and spend time with them that he just wants to play with them and entertain them without any drama. I understand that too. But it makes life incredibly difficult for me as it means, even when he is around, I am still the one giving instructions and exercising discipline. It means I don’t get a chance to be the fun parent.
I worry about how this perception of me may impact my relationship with my children as they grow up. Will they always exhale a long groan of disappointment when I enter the room? Will they always prefer to spend time with their dad than with me? And will they always think of me as the fun police? I hope not.
It’s so important for both parents to share the responsibility of ensuring good behaviour and discipline for their children. Of course they may have contrasting views about how best to do this but it is still a joint responsibility. I don’t mind being associated with the mundane tasks of family life as I know it’s necessary to keep my household running smoothly. But sometimes I also need some respite and would like the opportunity to bond with my kids in a fun and carefree way. That means the Old Git sometimes needs to adopt the role of strict parent so that I don’t have to. It also means I need to chill out out at times and stop being so task driven. Better still is if both parents are united in their approach to discipline and household duties. That way nobody gets labelled the bad cop of the family.
I love the Old Git dearly but he is the ultimate softie/pushover when it comes to our children. Deep down I know I will ALWAYS be viewed as the stricter parent, but at least if I get some time off from this role, the kids may also see me as capable of having fun. I need to shake off this bad cop reputation and show them that I too can be down with the kids.