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Why Having A Strict Parent And A Lenient One Is Not Good For Kids

If you and your spouse are fans of the good cop, bad cop style of parenting, you might want to rethink more than the outfits. A recent study followed 451 early adolescents from age 12 to age 20 and monitored their physical health, in addition to having an independent panel assess the overall harshness of their parents (because people generally aren’t great at describing themselves as jerks). Over time, kids with one harsh parent — probably the one with the mustache — had 2 significant negative outcomes: they had more mental baggage to carry around, and they had increased Body Mass Index as well.

In videotaped interactions with their children, parents were rated on how often the parents rejected and coerced them. The harshness they were measuring was non-violent, strict parenting that could contribute to chronic stress, according to separate data. In this study having just one harsh parent led to poor physical health and a greater risk of obesity. While you might be quick to call on your partner’s warmth to balance out your tough side, researchers found that good cops of co-parenting were not able to offset the negative health effects of such harshness completely. Regardless, the fine line between toughening and fattening your kid up means you might want to consider turning in your badge.