Thursday, May 16, 2013

How My Life in Law Enforcement Has Shaped Me as a Zen Parent

I grew up in a law enforcement family and, not surprisingly, I joined the family business where I worked for several years before becoming a teacher. I still have a law enforcement family - both in the literal and metaphorical senses, as those bonds are never broken.

I have learned much, experienced much in those years and I thought I'd share with you a few of the more important lessons as they apply to Zen Parenting.


- never put your children in personalized clothes or accessories
What better way to get a child's attention than to call him or her by name? Why give creeps that information willingly? Backpacks with their names emblazoned or T-shirts screen-printed with their first, last, or nicknames look adorable, I know. They also look like a prey's name tag to a creep who would approach the child and say, "Hey, Luke, your mommy asked me to bring you to her in the parking lot."


- guns are not toys, thus they should not be playing with toys that are guns
Someone recently told me how ridiculous I was being not allowing my son to play with guns, as kids make guns out of the most banal objects, like sticks, anyway, so there's no getting away from them. That's not the point. That's not why we don't allow guns of any type in the house (yes, that includes squirt guns and guns on little action figures). We don't allow them, because guns are not toys. I never, never want my son to mistake a gun for a toy. I don't want him so used to playing with toy guns, some of which look very real and are even easily mistaken as such by those who deal with guns daily (like law enforcement officers), that he would see a real gun and see it as just another toy. No. Guns are not toys, thus there will be no toys that are guns in our home.



- if lost or in trouble and cannot find parents or loved ones, kids should look for someone in a uniform or with a name tag, or a parent with kids with them
Does this mean that every one of these people are "good" and "wholesome"? No, but chances are better that they'll find someone helpful in these folks than if they go with anyone who takes their hand to "help".


- nobody thinks they're a child abuser...they ALL think they're "disciplining" just the right amount, for just the right reasons, and in just the right way
Whether they're spanking, swatting, popping, using a belt, using a spoon, just tapping the hand, inflicting physical pain, not inflicting physical pain, slugging in the face, slapping in the face, pushing, screaming at, calling names, intimidating, or a bevy of other evils, none of the parents I've ever encountered believe themselves to be child abusers. They all think they're doing a bang-up job as parents. They're all justified in their own minds. They're wrong.


Agree with me or not - totally up to you. What I offer you is a perspective to which you may not have been privy under normal circumstances. What I ask of you is to think on it all. That's all. Just think on it.

8 comments:

  1. Good post. I do think it is fairly America-specific though. My kids play with guns, but we don't have real guns around, so I would rather they be viewed as toys. Chances are, my children will never hold a real gun in their hands ever (I haven't). Gun ownership is pretty much for hunters where I'm from. I get where you're coming from and don't disagree with your stance however, it makes a lot of sense.

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  2. Why does the orange rhino facebook page and support group etc. exist if "They all think they're doing a bang-up job as parents. They're all justified in their own minds." is actually accurate? I think you need to realize that many people are trying very hard to be better, calmer, more loving parents.. but they're not going to respond well to being called a child abuser, particularly if all they are guilty of is raising their voice a little too frequently (even if it's TRUE.. it's not generally something they're going to respond to. You have to give people more of the benefit of the doubt as good people than that. Just leading off with "you're an abuser" is asking to be responded angrily to and then promptly ignored.). How is the weather up there in your ivory tower?

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    1. Close, but no cigar. I have called no one a child abuser. What I said is that I've never encountered anyone who feels as if their chosen form of punishment is abusive. That being said, hitting is hitting is hitting...

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  3. You said this: "screaming at, calling names, intimidating, or a bevy of other evils, none of the parents I've ever encountered believe themselves to be child abusers" That's not hitting and you said "child abusers" directly following a description of behaviors (in the same sentence!) I am SURE you classify as child abuse. That's pretty outright calling people who may do those things even very infrequently and I was more keen on the may do "other (undisclosed) evils(I'm assuming shaming, yelling, stripping their rooms to nothing, insults, etc.)" child abusers. I think that, given certain context or severity, that those behaviors can be ranging towards abusive or abusive.. but it's also apparent by the research that the lack of physical punishment involved usually means the children fair much much better than households that do hit, and some of these parents are breaking the cycle of physical abuse.. and are barely hanging on by a thread.. but are still trying to do better. It's really easy to judge people, it's much much more difficult to actually have empathy for them and try to help them change. I'm very good at reading, thank you...

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    1. Evidently, you are not only good at reading, but reading into things that are not there. You are free to do so, but it serves no one.

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  4. These thoughts of yours on parenting are very insightful. And your perspective coming from a law-enforcement background is actualy quite fresh. I agree with your point that guns are not toys and should not be treated as such, you give a very convincing argument on that matter. Another one would be the advice about looking for someone in uniform. It's definitely helpful and very proactive-minded for a parent to let their children know what these folks do and that they can help them in an emergency situation. I'll definitely share these to my friends with kids. maybe one day, one of them may consider a career in the force.

    Jerome Soan @ PoliceKnowledge.co.uk

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    1. Well, thank you, Jerome. I appreciate your feedback.

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