As a parent of two serving Victoria Police officers I’ve realised I watch the nightly news a little differently than I used to. Though the content of each news bulletin seems to mirror those I’ve watched for decades, the context of each of the stories involving police cause my attention to be a little more focused.
I’m very adept at coping with trauma and grief. My role as the senior Victoria Police chaplain, as well as 20 years of working amongst some of the worlds most disadvantaged people, has exposed me to much grief and brokenness.
I’m also married to a nurse who has worked in emergency wards, hospital theatres, and is now a clinical nurse specialist. As a couple we have assisted and cared for people throughout our 35 years of marriage.
In the mix of our own personal experiences we raised our two children exposing them to the wonders of the world but also allowing them to witness the effects of poverty, injustice, addiction and greed. It was no surprise when they both decided to apply and subsequently graduate as Victoria Police officers, swearing to uphold the right of those whom they were now avowed to protect.
So now when I turn the news channel on and hear stories of police being involved in the latest skirmish or critical incident, I realise my investment into the care and protection of our society is a deeply personal one.
There are two emotions that are consistently present as a parent, or loved one, of serving police officers. One we openly speak about, the other we can find difficult to verbalise. Those two emotions are:
- Overwhelming pride – as parents, we are incredibly proud of who our children have become and the careers they have chosen to follow. When they graduated at the Academy we beamed with pride as they marched out. Promotions, opportunities, cases they’ve been involved in, crime they have prevented and solved – all cause us to continually applaud them and be their greatest supporters.
- But we also admit that in those moments when the news reports serious police involvement in areas and circumstances we know our children operate, there is that small shiver of anxiety. We have never been worried about where our children are serving as police officers, but we do pray for their protection both physically and emotionally as they deal with the overwhelming amount of need our society requires from our law enforcers. We obviously want them to be safe and to return home as we sent them out.
Simply being able to talk about these two emotions unlocks an internal gate that we somehow feel needs to be firmly closed in case we make others worry about how we are feeling.
Pride and anxiety are two normal human emotions, and when these are in balance, cause us to share honestly and openly for those we care for.
Last night when I watched the news, I realised again that I watch with different eyes, looking for different information. Pride and anxiety though in balance because I know I don’t walk this path alone.