Calo Parenting Tips: Becoming a "United Front"

Its not uncommon in most households for parents to individually assume the roles of good cop and bad cop.

The parent who assumes the role of good cop is the often the one who a teen turns to be soothed or to help them negotiate with the parent who has taken on the role of bad cop and is the main disciplinarian for the household. Teens with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), and/or those who have been unable to form healthy attachments, often become masters of manipulation in order to get what they want. A child dealing with RAD doesnt have the ability to understand the consequences of their actions. So, in order to get what they want, they will pit one parent against the other.

When a teen learns that they can split authority figures (parents, teachers, etc.), they will continue to test boundaries because they have figured out the lines of discipline can blurred. As the teen practices the art of splitting/triangulating, they reinforce that control is more comfortable than trust. A teen with RAD is dealing with control issues that are based on fear. Because they have experienced past trauma, including abuse and neglect, they have learned self-preservation techniques utilizing control as their shield. One of the most important things parents and teachers can do to help a teen with RAD learn and obey boundaries is to openly discuss disciplinary methods and form a United Front. They can present themselves as one unit that shares the same intention, purpose and commitment to the teen.

Disagreements and differing opinions should be discussed away from the child, so that decisions can be made that are consistent, dependable and reliable in front of the teen. When parents and authority figures form a United Front, the teen learns to trust that the adults in his/her life are making the best decisions for their needs. When a teen dealing with RAD experiences safe relationships that are based on care and control, they begin to trust their parents and teachers and embark on the transformation to becoming a healthy and happy adult.