My husband is the good cop when my sons have done something so heinous, that I have, for the moment, lost the ability to rationally think because of the anger that they have caused me. Instead of banishing them to the seventh level of Hell, my husband is the voice of reason: “Honey, don’t you think that a 2000 page novella on Foucault’s Panopticon hand-written in their own blood might be a bit too much? Why don’t you go breath in a bag for a few minutes until that blood vessel stops pulsing in your forehead? We can talk about this when you’ve calmed down.” As I breath into a bag, he whispers instructions for the son to very carefully, and with no sudden movements, give mom a big hug, say sorry, and shed some tears while emphasizing to him that his life is potentially on the line.
While figuring out this whole parenting thing, my husband and I quickly learned that we had to be a team when it came to discipline. My parents would often remind me that when one looses their mind, the other must come to the rescue as an ambassador – otherwise, you can alienate the child, especially when there’s two people screaming at them. Now, an ambassador does not mean that they are a neutral party. Instead, they are more like a liason – a negotiator who asks the hard questions (What in the bloody heck were you thinking?!) to get to the bottom of things while also being the voice of reason (When you hid for an hour from your mother at the playground, even though she continually called for you and contorted herself and threw out her back through the jungle gym to find you, didn’t you realize that maybe it was time to come out and not cause her to worry?)