I remember my mom yelling "Wait until your father gets home!" if she really wanted to scare the crap out of us when me and my brother misbehaved.
It's not like my dad beat us or anything. But he was the parent who doled out the spankings. He also had and still has a deep, thick New York-Italian accent that could make you wonder if you'd be "sleeping with the fishes" instead of in your own bed.
Basically, when there was a good cop-bad cop dynamic being played in my home, mom was the good cop and dad was often the bad cop.
(I remember my mom would try and play bad cop by taking a wooden spoon out of the drawer and threatening to hit us with it. And I can still remember the day we all realized she would never actually use it.)
At the time, it seemed like all of my friends had the same dynamic playing in their homes. They could get away with all kinds of stuff with their mom. But they would be in big trouble if their dad found out.
Now it seems like times have changed.
I talk with my fellow mommy friends and it seems like the dads are often the softies and the moms are becoming more of the disciplinarians.
I'm not saying this is bad or good. Just different.
Could the shift in "traditional" roles be because moms are more likely to be home longer with the kids during the day?
Or could it be because once dad IS home, mom cannot relinquish her role as the disciplinarian?
While I do not think a good cop-bad cop dynamic is needed in all households, I do feel a little fear of punishment (by either parent) can go a long way in keeping a child out of real trouble.