By Safe Call Now’s Dr. Laura Brodie Ph.D.
In my work with cops, I’ve worked with their kids. Cops need to hear what their kids are complaining about. “He treats me like a suspect.” “She doesn’t trust me.” “He is cold and unfeeling, telling me what I’m doing wrong and never what I’m doing right.” But in talking to cops, I hear over and over how much they love their kids and remain confused about why their children do not feel their love. Being a cop is a job that bleeds over to one’s personal life. The same can be said with psychologists. We psychologists place our own children on the couch of “processing” everything instead of allowing our children to simply be kids. Cops tend to respond to rule breaking in a matter of fact way, slap on the cuffs and haul them in. But what if this person is your child?
Parenting is not policing and approaching your own child as a felon will only result in hurt and anger. Law enforcement individuals desire their children to turn out as law abiding. This can result in a rigidity that does not allow the child to have a healthy rebellion and disagreement that can result in a healthy adult. Your kid is going to be a kid. Your kid is going to push rules, hit buttons and try to be adult too soon. Your job is to navigate this without instilling fear or doubt in your child, allowing freedom and individualization while monitoring for disaster. It’s a hard job. But in all of it you have to realize, this is your child who needs guidance and not an individual who needs harshness.
On the job a cop cannot accept disagreement, but as a parent you have to accept rebellion and understand that this rebellion allows for healthy development. If you police a child like a felon you risk multiple dangers. You tell your child he/she is untrustworthy, that they cannot make good decision and you know better than everyone else.
The issue I see over and over with cops and their kids is the cop does not allow the child to see his/her emotion so the child assumes her/his own emotion is wrong. Emotion is deadly on the job but the lack of emotion with children is just as deadly. You cannot be matter of fact with your children. They need to know you love them unconditionally and you can handle whatever emotion they have to throw at you.
The moral of the story… no one can feel safe and loved by a rock. A child needs a parent who sees them as a child, including feelings and thought. The parent returns to the joy of childhood when they can enjoy the world in the eyes of their child. Cops have a hard time letting go and playing, but if you allow your children to take you there you will feel a deeper connection than you ever thought there could be. #ArmorUp
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