I’ve written posts before about law enforcement fathers (like the one I wrote about a super short paternity leave, for instance). Law enforcement life makes a lot of things more difficult (or just different from the norm), and parenthood is one thing that’s tremendously affected, for several reasons.
For one thing, because police officers are needed 24/7/365, their schedule is incredibly demanding.
That means there will be a lot of missed events: whether that’s first steps, baseball games, ballet recitals, whatever. Because of the demanding, unpredictable, more-than-40-hour-a-week nature of being a police officer, a lot of those things are going to get missed. You’ll have to attend them alone while your husband goes to work.
And, of course, whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or a working mom, this also means you’ll typically take on most of the parenting tasks, especially the unpleasant ones like discipline, while your husband gets to focus the fleeting moments he has at home on being the “fun parent”.
His situation as a parent is also different because he sees crappy stuff at work all day. So some days when he’s seen bad things, he might be more inclined to ignore disciplinary problems in because he wants so badly for his own kids to be happy and safe. Other days, he may not want to talk or play at all because he needs to emotionally process his day.
Also, there’s a good chance he has to regularly fight off the urge to handcuff himself to his kids. Whether it’s because they’re toddlers with absolutely zero sense of “stranger danger” or teenagers being, well, teenagers, it’s hard when he can see so much potential danger to someone he loves so much.
And not just potential danger – he’s actually seen these things play out. It’s rough on him, and this consistent trauma is enough to make anyone crazy paranoid.
And maybe this kind of father isn’t the kind of person you pictured being married to. Maybe in your version of the perfect family, your husband comes home, focuses fully on the kids and has fun, but not too much fun – because he perfectly disciplines when needed.
I’m guessing this level of perfection doesn’t look like your family. It doesn’t look like mine, either. I mean, maybe your husband comes home and is totally, 100% ready to play and be present with his kids. But it’s equally likely that your husband comes home, takes off his vest and uniform, and hides in the other room for half an hour to decompress.
Whatever your family life looks like, there’s one thing you need to remember.
There are plenty of ways to be a good enough father. And (as your husband surely sees every day) there are plenty of ways to be a straight-up bad father. But a perfect father? Not possible.
The father who shows up, the father who wants to be good enough, the father who tries – that’s a good father. There are men out there who aren’t there, who don’t care, or worse, are abusive to the family they’re supposed to love and protect. Remember that before you complain too much about your husband’s parenting style.
It’s totally understandable to be frustrated and want your husband to parent just like you do, but remember that being different is a good thing! Just like being incompatible is actually good for your marriage, being different as parents is good for your kids.
After all, your kids will come to understand which of you is good for what kind of situation. Having two parents they can talk to and go to about different things is an asset.
The most important thing you and your husband can do as parents is to build your relationship with your kids. After all, if there’s no relationship, the rules won’t be obeyed/respected. So make sure to take the time to build the relationship, both you and your husband.
It’s super important to your husband’s relationship with your kids that you watch how you talk about him in front of your kids. If there’s an issue that needs to be addressed, do so privately – or at least to his face. Don’t talk bad about him behind his back, because I promise, your kids are listening – and they’ll pick up on that attitude, as well.
Be sure to focus on showing your husband love, patience, and forgiveness. Be grateful for the life you have, and the man you get to share it with. It’s the best way to help your children feel grateful for their father.
Parenthood is so messy, and difficult, and wonderful – and it takes two parents figuring it out together as a team.
I’m a twenty-something LEO wife and stay-at-home mom to a one-year-old little boy. I enjoy writing, reading, taking my son for walks and runs in the stroller, and crafting. My goal is for Love and Blues to be a resource for first responders and their families. I write about marriage and family topics, as well as about the quirks that come with being married to a man in law enforcement, firefighting, or emergency medical services.
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