My wife and I like to joke around about who plays the good cop and who plays the bad cop in our house.
She swears that she is the bad cop because she lays down the law at night time, which I wrote about last week here (http://dadsroundtable.com/blogs/frontlines/2015/03/real-beast-mode/). I don’t deny that she is proficient in the discipline department. She absolutely is. She is the queen of tough love. But I feel that I, too, can get down with the punishment. Maybe I’m compensating. As a kid, my dad was the warden. If we screwed up, he was on us quicker than flies on honey. And there was an occasional spanking involved. My mother, on the other hand, was probably begging him to go easy on us. She was the pushover.
That is likely the tradition in most homes — Daddy doles out the discipline and Mommy wipes the tears afterwards.
Not so for my wife and I. I do have more of a soft heart at times but we both take an active role in dealing with the many transgressions of our kids, ages 4 & 2. And that’s why I believe that while the traditional role of a father is as a disciplinarian, it is still possible for Daddy to lay on the comfort, too.
Here’s a case in point. The other day I was reading books to my 2-year-old before his naptime. He is a feisty child and he started playfully hitting me on the head. He has a problem with aggression so we try to nip that type of behavior in the bud immediately. I told him to stop. He didn’t. I told him to stop again. He didn’t. A third time and he went into time out. He bawled. I explained to him that his behavior alone put him there and he needed to make better choices and begin to listen.
Once his punishment was served, he ran to me, crying. He wanted comfort. I gave him as much as I could, all the while explaining to him why his behavior got him into trouble.
I believe that this is where today’s dads diverge from yesterday’s dads. I don’t recall my father getting huggy and kissy with me. And I certainly don’t remember wanting him to after he finished punishing me. I wanted my Mommy.
The other day I was proud that even after my tongue-lashing and scolding my son wanted me to tell him that everything would be alright. Maybe it will be more than alright. Maybe we’ve evolved, dads, to the point that we can punish one moment and still bring the comfort the next.