Playing The Bad Cop….Badly

I spent a bit of time last night drawing up a study timetable for Adam’s GCSE exams which begin in May. These are very important and will largely determine his educational path for the next few years. If he does well he can move on to study A levels, which he will require in order to get into university. More important than rugby, even. There I’ve said it, even if it was through gritted teeth.

Adam is a bright young man but, like most teenagers, he’s not the most organised. Which is where I come in. If it was left to our son, he would probably leave his studying until the last minute and then sit up all night, desperately cramming. To avoid that, I devised a study schedule spread out over the next two months, which allots specific hours each day to revision.

Each of the ten subjects he will be sitting examinations for is covered by the timetable, with additional hours for subjects he isn’t that keen on. Like French. Yuck! And Physics. Double Yuck! It’s weird, but I struggled with the same two subjects at school while I also excelled at Adam’s favourites – English, History and Geography. Like father, like son you might say. But it’s about the only thing we have in common.

Adam is a rugby star while I was rubbish at it. He’s popular and funny, the class clown. I was an utter nerd who spent most of his school career trying to keep as low a profile as possible. I’ve no doubt he will be fighting off the girls in the years to come. I don’t think I spoke to a girl, other than my sister, before I was 18. Even then, I was a largely girlfriend free zone until Fionnuala finally took pity on me.

The timetable is aimed at keeping Adam on track and allowing him to perform to the best of his abilities, come exam time. We know he has the intelligence and ability to do very well. I can’t sit the exams for him but I can do my very best to prepare him for them. The same goes for Hannah and Rebecca who I’ve coached through Geography and French tests in recent weeks.

I spent a good part of my adult life off track. I can’t blame this on my parents who were largely unaware of my antics until it was too late. I didn’t come completely off the rails until after my father’s death. Thankfully I had people around me who dragged me kicking and screaming back onto the right path. I don’t want our kids to wander down the dark alleys and dead ends I used to traverse and will do everything in my power to prevent that from happening.

If I were to list Fionnuala’s parental strengths then I would still be writing this blog in a month’s time. She is a brilliant mother and superb role model to them all. I chip in where I can and try to be the best father I possibly can. If that means getting frozen to the bone on rugby touchlines and designing tortuous study timetables then so be it. I’m your man. Parenting is a never ending learning curve

Adam may despise me in the weeks ahead as I nag him mercilessly regarding his studies. I will undoubtedly have to play the bad cop role at times, one which never sits comfortably with me. But I hope, when he gets his grades in the summer, he will realise I did it with the best of intentions. As Fionnuala occasionally reminds me I’m their father, not the their best friend. Which now and again means laying down the law. Even when I don’t really want to.

Can you play the bad cop?

How effective are you at laying down the law?

38 thoughts on “Playing The Bad Cop….Badly

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  1. Hi.
    Nice Post. Hope You All well.

    Father knows best tis said… though
    … best about what exactly is never mentioned.!.

    i, Shiro practiced several Times
    in a Mirror… getting the STARE to go along with the gruff tone…
    usually ending up laughing at myself… then when doing it for real…
    flashbacks… so…
    handed in My Badge.

    My Wife is Bad Cop now.

    Good Luck. Take Care.
    Till Next… Shiro

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  2. Parenting is one of the toughest and most rewarding roles I play. Being bad cop sucks but I mostly do it as my daughter and I spend the most time together. What I remind her of (frequently) is that her Dad and I are the two people who always have her back and her best interest at heart, so if he enforce something (violin practice, multiplication tables, etc) it is for a reason. That we do not make her do pointless activities and practice just for the sake of it. She’s 8 so how in depth she absorbs that I don’t know but I want her to at least recognize I am not a total witch. Good luck with the study schedule and tests. Does not sound fun.

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  3. God, I’m HOPELESS at BOTH of those. But I don’t have kids. Best of luck with all of that Sfelhen. You are a great Dad.

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  4. One might think with a last name like mine, Copps, I would have been better prepared to be the bad cop when necessary. I was not and I am sure some of the struggles my adult children have/had can be traced back to my failures in this regard. Though this is undoubtedly true, I must not beat myself up too badly. They are adults now, capable of making good choices. To attempt to blame their failures completely on my laid-back parenting style is merely an excuse.
    I share this to say Bravo! to your study time line. I’m sure your son will have some choice words for you, so what. By you helping him now, when he most needs it, he will be so much better prepared to take on the challenges of life that await him, especially when he has to create his own schedule. His experiences now will put his future in a much more positive place.
    Blessings (and good luck!)
    Chuck

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  5. I was never good at studying either. I did well in the subjects I liked and scraped by in the others (except for ancient Greek which I never quite understood the purpose of!) However, if this tip is of any use, I was given a financial incentive by my parents of a whole £1 per O Level (passed of course). Well, it was worth a lot more in those days (circa 1969). Indeed, I just checked – that’s about £15 per success at today’s prices. (Hmmm, I was a lucky boy!) 🙂

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  6. Hi Stephen. I think it’s wonderful that you are helping your son to be more structured when it comes to school. I could definitely have benefited from having such a parent. I Believe that our children come in to our lives to help us (grow). I have a 3 year old (4 next month) and she is creative, curious, secure about herself and strong. I feel she is teaching me to become more of those things. So perhaps our children doesn’t have to be like us so much? Best of luck with his exams.

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  7. My son was the same way and no amount of nagging had much effect. Suddenly, near the end of his first year at college (university to you folks) he decided it was important to him to do well. He made the Dean’s List every year after that and one day he told me, “I wish I’d worked harder in high school.”

    Go figure. Every kid has their own path. What’s important is that he knows you’re his biggest cheerleader.

    ps David is now 32 and has an amazing work ethic.

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  8. I don’t have kids but this sounds like good parenting!! As your wife said, you’re their father, not their best friend, and I think it’s super important to know when to have fun together and when to give them directions. It might not be fun right now but it’s such an important step, guidance will be so useful! If only all the parents were like you, I can tell you that with the young apprentices we have at work (they start at 15) some parents just don’t even know what’s going on in their kid’s life, it’s heartbreaking

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  9. I pray his exams go great! You have given him a great outline for studying. I never studied French, but I took 3 years of Spanish. I used that a lot growing up as I worked with guys from Mexico during my years on landscaping crews. We have a lot of folks from Mexico here in Colorado. We are not too far from there. Actually spoke with a woman in Spanish on our vacation to San Diego last summer. She needed help getting something off the top shelf. Thankfully for her, I’m tall (6’1″) and I spoke her language. 🙂 I loved Physics, but I didn’t like Chemistry. I also loved History, which was my favorite. I hear you about laying down the law as a father. I don’t have any trouble with that. My problem is making sure I don’t do it harshly. I grew up with an angry Dad who yelled in my face all the time. I love and forgive my Dad, but even now at my age of 40 we don’t get along very well and we don’t talk much. I am not that way because I made up my mind when I was a kid that I would not be like that. I will be firm if I have to, but I am always conscience of being sure not to exasperate my kids. I am so thankful for the healing and love of the Lord that makes us the men we need to be for our families! God bless!

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  10. I don’t have children but what you’re doing seems like a great idea!
    I didn’t take French but I took Russian and boy was that a hard language. I pray that Adam will do well in his studies and that all the hard work pays off!

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  11. Well done! You’re teaching them valuable lessons, helping them structure their time and breaking what probably seems like a momentous task into small and easy chunks. Because I brought up my children on my own, I had to be both good and bad cop which is actually very difficult, alongside running two jobs … it’s exhausting work. Well done to both of you, your kids are so lucky to have you.

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  12. This may not shock you but I am always the bad cop and Scott is always the good! Not that we have to fall into those roles regularly at the minute thankfully. We still have the teenage years to come tho 😄

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  13. I’m doing my GCSEs this year too and as much as I hate to say it, my parents being on my back about revison has helped a lot! Hope they go well for him, especially considering they’re the new reformed ones. 🙂

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