Saturday, April 30, 2011

Enlighten Me.....Talking to the Kids

This is a word for word quote from 3 year old Sierra's bedtime prayer the other night,

 "Heavenly Father bless our sweet, sweet man gets the job done getting bad guys in jail."

Surely, CA Cop was blessed that night.  I mean how could anyone not answer that little prayer?

As our baby girl grows so does her desire to learn about the world that she's living in.  She is one of those fifty questions in a minute type of children who doesn't take "I don't know" as an answer for anything. She hasn't quite gotten the concept that moms and dads may not know everything, but I'm sure just about the point she turns into a teenager she'll have that one mastered!

Today in the car she asked me what skunks eat....random, I know. Umm...I paused to think about a little skunk and what might fill its fuzzy black and white belly.  She interrupted my thoughts with, "trees?".  I knew I wasn't getting out of this one so I did a quick google search at a red light and rattled off a long list of nasty things like insects, frogs, earthworms, and also (much to her enjoyment) leaves.

CA Cop's job has been surfacing in her conversation more and more.  Specifically about "bad guys" and "taking pictures of them" (no idea how she picked up on this? Next to dad when he checked his work email?) and "putting them in jail."  Also driving by the rules or else "crashing and getting big tickets that cost lots of money".

So all these different topics that are requiring me to give more and more detail have made me wonder and seek some enlightenment.....Do you have any dos or don'ts when it comes to talking about what your cop (or you if you are the cop) does at work?  So far we keep a positive worry free spin on everything (Daddy helps people, etc) they are young.  I want my babies to feel as safe and secure in their little world as they possibly can and for as long as they can.  But I also know that in the future the questions will come, so I want to be prepared.  Have you set any boundaries or do you just answer all questions honestly and openly? As they grow and begin to understand what, if anything, have you encountered in relation to being a LEO family?

Thanks for the input, these Enlighten Me posts have really been!


  1. Children are very intuitive. My daughter, now four, is continuously asking me to tell her "bad guy" stories. I don't know where it comes from - preschool, a conversation between me and my wife? I certainly don't want to fill her head with the reality of my job, but like you, I want want to give her answers.

    What has worked for me is taking some of my real life events, and framing them into simple stories that are based on things she can identify with like, nature, our dog, favorite shows or movies. At that age, they don't know the difference between one of my bad guys, and Cruella De Vil.

  2. My 5 yr old, probably 3 at the time asked if "bad guys ever hurt me?" I want him to know I won't lie to him but I don't tell him everything. But, I answered "yes." He has seen me come home with broken ribs and injuries so he knows a little.

    After answering yes to his quesiton he tells me, "Dad, if the bad guy trys to hurt you I'll go get my bat and hit him." How awesome is that!

  3. It sounds like you are doing well with the question barrage. We did not have kids when I was policing, and I'll be interested to read what your comments suggest.

  4. We haven't talked about boundaries yet but I'm so glad you started the discussion. Our son (almost 6) is very aware of things and I don't want him to live a sheltered life, but I also don't want him to worry about his world. I'll have to talk to Blue about it.

  5. Like Simeon wrote about, I have a 5 year old who constantly wants to hear stories. She's insatiable when it comes to the stories, and when I take her into the station with me, we have to go through every wanted flyer so I can tell her what each guy did.

    One thing I try hard to explain to my kids (ages 5 and 8) is that most people we arrest aren't "bad guys" but people who did "bad things". I don't want them growing up thinking that people fall into a dichotomy of good and bad. I'm trying to get them to think critically, even at this young age, and they've delighted me in how quickly they've picked up the skill.

  6. Simeon- That is a good tip to use familiar characters to tell the stories. We will have to try that.

    Mr. Police Man- Its good to know that your boy has got your back :). Our daughter asked my husband that question when he came home a bit bloodied and battered one evening. He seemed caught off guard and chose to tell her that the injury was not from a bad guy. For us its a hard balance to be as honest as possible but yet not create fear, worry, or stress that is unnecessary in her. Has your son developed any worries after given this information or is it a non issue (ie kids are more resilient, especially if the info is delivered in a frank manner)? Thanks again for the feed back. I want to be prepared when this situation presents itself again.

  7. Slam Dunk- Thanks for the words of encouragement with all the questioning I am getting around here. :)

    Covering Blue- Let me know if you and Blue end up deciding in particular how to handle things.

    Lt- I really appreciate your view on this topic. Your thoughts on the label "bad guys" vs "bad choices" is intriguing and has really got me thinking. I want to correct my dialogue with her right away to reflect this. I agree that the two need to be separated, yet still reserving the term "bad guys" for those whose choices so completely earn the label.

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  9. It is important for me to stress that the job is not dangerous in the manner that they think that it is. I stress that the most important concept in my job is Duty.

    Duty means that Daddy might not be able to come home when he'd like to. Duty means that Daddy may have to miss fun things and even important things like recitals and birthdays and holidays.(Yes, it's happened.) Duty means that Daddy sometimes stays awake a lot longer than he'd like, when other people are asleep, and that it can be hard to stay awake.

    And duty can mean going into harm's way.

    Duty means telling on myself when I made a mistake. Because even Daddy makes mistakes.

    Duty means not divulging some details, even to Mama and my little girls, because those details aren't their business.

    Duty means applying the law fairly, even when friends and family might not like it.

    I go over these things with my girls, so that they're prepared when and if these things come up. They know that I feel a strong compulsion to do my duty. I hope that they learn that their own duties are important, too.

  10. Matt- excellent perspective. I really appreciate your point of view and explaining that a solid value system is the driving force behind your work ethic and drive. A lesson that should not be delayed.