By Steve Pomper
It’s cliché, and maybe even a cop-out (no pun intended) to say everybody’s different regarding handling stress. This is particularly true of people whose career paths are incredibly stressful and dangerous, as cops’ jobs are.
Often, which I’m sad to admit, law enforcement officers can be myopic in their handling stress from the job because it’s not just their stress, which I learned during one family dinner, was my case. It’s not only the obvious dangers from the position that can affect a cop’s mental well-being but also those subtle hazards that accumulate without our knowledge. But who else is affected?
Officer making an arrest
We all know, aside from the fights, vomit, and bloodshed (ours and theirs) that we may expect will happen, there are the odd hours, unexpected mandatory overtime, public criticism and outright hostility, and, perhaps worst of all is a cop’s own city and department administration’s BS towards officers.
All of these things can add up and take a toll. Now, none of this is new to any first responder. My wife, a retired firefighter, and I often talked throughout our careers about how we seemed well suited to our respective professions and were good at managing stress and compartmentalizing the nastiness we faced at work.
But one day, while having dinner with our three adult kids, we came to the subject of our jobs. I asked if they ever worried about us not thinking they had. In fact, they talked about how much they’d worried about us every time we went to work when they were little. My wife to her fire station and me to my precinct. It stunned me. I still remember the lump forming in my throat.
American family having dinner
I felt as though I’d abandoned them back then, even though, at that time, I just thought I was going to work to support our family, and they were cool with it. Suddenly, sitting at the table, I saw them when they were little kids again but this time worried about their parents, and it made me sad. They never complained, so we never knew. But we were the adults. It was up to us to ask. But we didn’t think about it. We probably should have.
I’d always assumed that they were okay with our careers because they never said anything. But that’s because it wasn’t a huge thing for them; it was their private little anxieties. My wife was the same as me, especially since her father had been a cop in Massachusetts for 36 years. But she’d grown up with his being a police officer from the day she was born.
We got into our professions a bit later in life when our kids were about 12, 10, and 8 years old. Our careers were thrust on them. Since they were excited that we were becoming what every kid wanted to be, a cop or fireman (no, my wife is not offended by that “toxically masculine” term), we only saw their excitement on the surface, not the unspoken apprehension beneath it.
Don’t get me wrong. Our kids are very well-adjusted adults, but I kick myself for not thinking about their concern for us when we were on duty when they were kids. I should have considered it, but it wasn’t even on my radar. I hate to think about them worrying when I could have helped alleviate some of it.
If for nothing else, I hope this cautionary tale lets first responders in similar circumstances know it might be a concern. And just talking about it can do wonders to allay kids’ fears about their parent’s professions. My wife and I used to say that we handled the potential danger well primarily because we trusted our fellow cops and firefighters so much. Our kids would probably have liked to hear that from us occasionally.
Officer demonstrating fingerprinting to student
Whether it’s a one or two first-responder parent family, the concerns are similar, it’s good if parents ask their kids what they think about what they do for a living. Even though our family hasn’t suffered any long-term effects from the kids’ anxieties (especially since we’ve spoken about it since), I still wish I’d thought to ask them about it when they were still little.
And cop parents today, aside from their kids worrying about them. have other things to be concerned about. Like how the kids of law enforcement officers are treated at school—especially in public schools—even by some teachers.
Back in 2020, I wrote an article titled, “Scholastic Offers Free Articles For Students, Their Civics Lesson: America is Bad, Hate Cops” for Lifezette after I discovered that Scholastic Magazine, which was available to students at my grandson’s public school, contained blatantly anti-police propaganda.
I let the school district know my objections, but, as far as I know, the magazine is still distributed there. As are the usual DEI and CRT BS, including book readings from race-Marxist radicals (and cop-haters) like Ibram X. Kendi and other BLM-styled excrement. I’m happy to report my grandson (and other grandkids) is now thriving in private school.
BU Prof. Ibram X. Kendi
Christopher Rufo, wrote an article in the New York Post titled, “Ibram X. Kendi is the false prophet of a dangerous and lucrative faith.” He’s a professor at Boston University, which makes sense when you know that AOC graduated from BU.
But it’s lucrative for the race warrior. According to the Free Beacon in 2020, Professor Kendi warrants “$25,000 for a one-hour presentation…” on his “anti-racism” racism. In 2021, The Daily Wire reported Kendi “raked in…” at least “$300,000 in speaking fees.”
If I had it to do over, I would not to wait for the kids to ask me questions or tell me what their schools teach them about what I did for a living. Instead, I’d be proactive and ask my kids how they feel about what I do as a cop and ask them what people tell them about what they think I do.