~ J. G. Holland.
What makes someone a bad guy or a good guy (I include females)? Often it is an impression more than a fact, or it could be a mood or a pre-judgement that influences one’s opinion of another. Some people do not get my respect only because of the attitude I see from them. Later, I may like those same people when I know them better, maybe not.
Why might someone look at you as a ‘bad guy’? It could be that the apparent good you do for people will make you a bad person in their eyes if you stop doing it. Or what you do to protect people will anger them if they don’t agree. What you give to someone can rarely be taken back without protest or complaint. What you say to help others will often make enemies of those who don’t want to hear it.
It takes a person with principles to do what’s right knowing it will bring resistance and retribution. When we don’t have the principles to do what’s right, it can make the weak weaker and make the strong overbearing. We can see this in families, organizations, and/or governments.
That one child
In families, principles trump niceness. You always should be loving, but you can’t always be likeable. Certainly, children are not always likeable. Some parents have that one child that is just a little more challenging than the others. Hopefully, only one! Almost all kids have supercharged energy levels, developing egos, and fragile dispositions. The kind of exhaustion a parent feels after a long day with kids could rarely be matched by any other kind of tiredness. Add a child that has a little defiance and your patience will surely be tested.
It’s usually typical kid stuff. Kids naturally test your boundaries. They will test your resolution when given a warning or ultimatum. If you say to your child, “do ‘A’ again then ‘B’ will happen”, that is a challenge. So if they do ‘A’ once more, then you must follow up with ‘B’ whether you want to or not. Sometimes, you must be a bad guy to be a good parent.
When weighing what’s important to and for your kids, their ‘like’ for you (I don’t mean love) is not very important -- raising responsible and respectful children is! It’s rare to be successful at this while being too easy on them. You also must be on board with the other parent. If not, your children will designate one of you the good guy and the other the bad guy. This perception is nothing but trouble!
But there is another side to this story.
Might you actually be a ‘bad’ guy?
When, in reality, might you be a ‘bad guy’? It could be that you don’t take the time or energy to think of someone else. Maybe you forget that patience is required to change a child’s behavior or it’s your responsibility to shape them. Maybe you give in too easily to situations as a parent because you don’t have the fortitude to deal with it. This is where you can appear to be a good guy to your children when you are really being lazy, selfish, or uncaring.
Often, it is the more difficult children that become the most successful! They have an energy that just has to be corralled and focused. By not attending to them in a determined way, that energy can go in the wrong direction. With guidance and by seeming to be the bad guy at times, a child with crazy energy, imagination, and intelligence can be our future leaders and most fruitful citizens.
Whether someone is a good guy or a bad guy has more to do with their intentions than their actions. This is really important for parents to understand. In a previous article, I discussed the notion of asking yourself this question when dealing with your children, “Will my help make them stronger or weaker?” The question you don’t ask is. “What is easiest?” No parent ever wants to have a confrontation with their child. It’s always easier to let things slide. But assuming you are an insightful and good parent, giving in will make both you and your child weaker.