Family Archetypes #8: Drill Seargeant v. Conciliator

The Drill Sergeant v. The Conciliator

In another variation of The Controller v. The Enabler, one parent, the Drill Sergeant, becomes angered by unacceptable behavior and dispenses harsh discipline intended as a deterrent.  Meanwhile, the other parent plays the Conciliator by serving as a warm, safe harbor of comfort in marked contrast to the Drill Sergeant.  In general, one parent will offset the other. Mom might think, “Well, since Dad seems to be very harsh with the children, I’ll respond by being their friend.”

Sometimes the arrangement is an intentional one in the mode of “Good Cop/Bad Cop.” I don’t mind the occasional “Good Cop/Bad Cop,” so long as it isn’t the same parent always playing the same role.  (i.e., If you’re going to utilize this approach, at least mix it up.)  Intentional or not, it is important to recognize that this dynamic can create conditions ripe for manipulation by the children. The children will inevitably play one parent off against the other. Ultimately, the children learn to identify discipline with personalities rather than principles and that’s something you don’t want.

Next: Adoption

Onward,  Malcolm Gauld