On the other side of overprotection is the belief that our children cannot make good choices and we must keep them from ever leaving our sight. Our oldest son is in the driving age group now. Recently we had a discussion about how he was going to get to prom. He does not yet have his driver’s license and his girlfriend just received hers. He asked if he could ride with her. I said no. Not only is it illegal for those with a provisional permit (under 18) to have non-siblings in the car with them, all I could think about was my son’s mangled body trapped under a roll-over. The vision was so real I wouldn’t even consider the option of him riding in any car with other teens. Naturally, he is upset at me (I received the whole, “You’re ruining my life and are so unreasonable and I’m never going to get to do anything” argument” and he believes that I’m unrealistic because of my work with the police and now in the fire service. I do realize that I cannot control what happens to my son out in the world and all I can do is give him all the wisdom and, in this case, driving advice I can prior to him going out on his own. Ideally, if we have parented well, our children will be better prepared to deal with the good and bad of the world then children with less aware parents.
As a parent, our most important job is to raise our children to be able to live in this world on their own, make good decisions and follow a set of values and morals that will make society a better place. To do this, we must parent with balance. We must try to stay in the middle—to have an awareness but also a leash. We need to have age appropriate discussions with our children neither sheltering them too much nor giving graphic details of the world we know exists. We need to avoid fear tactics and kid gloves. Utilize your partner to help you parent. Ask each other, “Am I being unrealistic about the world or our child?” Don’t assume you know best or the most because our experiences are based on the worst in society. Be diligent as a parent, but let others do so as well. We have a lot of allies in raising our children, such as teachers, ministers and group leaders. Try not to assume the worst of your child but also do not refuse to see the truth. Police work definitely colors the way we parent. We want to protect our children from the evils of the world but we need to be realistic. If we raise our children with respect, a firm but friendly approach and impart our values, beliefs and love onto them, they will grow up into healthy, productive adults. That is the goal of every parent including those who chose police work as an occupation.
- The Writing Hand
- Breakthrough Series Collaborate at the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform
- More information on Ellen Kirschman, Ph.D.
About The Author:
Michelle Perin has been a freelance writer since 2000. Her credits include Law Enforcement Technology, Police, Law and Order, Police Times, Beyond the Badge, Michigan State Trooper, Michigan Snowmobiler Magazine and Chief of Police. She writes two columns a month for Officer.com. Michelle worked for the Phoenix (AZ) Police Department for almost eight years. In December 2010, she earned her Master’s degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Indiana State University. Currently, Michelle works as the Administrative Coordinator at Jasper Mountain a residential psychiatric facility for children. In her spare time, she enjoys being the fundraising coordinator for the Lane Area Ferret Shelter & Rescue, playing her bass, working on her young adult novel Desert Ice and raising her two sons in a small town in Oregon.