The way my father raised me benefited both my family and my law enforcement career.
By Trey Rusk
I was taught by my father to be my own person. Think for myself and weigh my decisions. My father was a U.S. Marine during WWII, an engineer and later an educator. He taught me to not judge people based on their social or economic status. I often witnessed him treat a garbage man better than a CEO. He was also a person who wrestled with his own demons. I learned from all of this.
What I really learned was that I had to take care of myself in order to take care of others. These lessons sometimes come hard because many persons including myself put their wants and ambitions ahead of everything else. I had to learn to love myself and my family enough to set boundaries.
I passed on my father's way of thinking to my spouse and children. I taught my children right from wrong with words of encouragement and spankings. My spouse is my rock and still teaches me to be kind and gentle. She would sometimes tell me to lighten up on the kids when she felt my lessons were too strict.
I write about this because as a police officer I was affected by the people I dealt with on a day to day basis. This made me cynical and biased. I also saw that adrenaline was probably the most powerful drug in existence. On rough nights I would have to take my shirt off and place it in cold water to soak to remove the blood. My level of adrenaline would prevent me from sleeping. I recognized this early on and did something to try to let my children see people as they were in an unvarnished setting.
When my kids reached their teens I would take them to work with me during especially rough events such as Mardi Gras. I would often give them tasks where they had to deal with the public. Many times I would have them man the gate to the police area for security. This was the gate where officers entered and left and also brought prisoners through. Often times these arrestees would be drunk and fighting. A makeshift booking desk was used and the prisoners then booked would be placed on a city bus used as a make shift jail. My children saw early on that some prisoners went to jail crying, some of them fighting but all of them eventually were booked into jail. They also witnessed brute force by the police on unruly arrestees.
I always instilled in my children that they had to stand up for themselves if they were in the right.
One of my sons was being bullied and told me about it. I brought home a cop who was also a professional cage fighter trained by the Gracie Brothers. Before teaching my son the basics of fighting, this cop taught my son how to use the knowledge responsibly. My son was never bullied again, but more importantly, he never bullied others. He learned what he would accept and what he wouldn't accept.
My family knew what I would tolerate. My friends knew the same. My children learned these lessons and went on to become good citizens.
Did I make some mistakes in raising my kids? Yes. I also admitted to them when I made a mistake because showing my kids that I made mistakes was important.
Several years ago my daughter wrote this for me on Fathers Day. It is one of my greatest gifts:
Here's to the man who taught me how to fish, how to kill ants with a magnifying glass, gave me my first beer, fostered a love of George Jones, and shared with me his love of reading. That same man also taught me the importance of being treated with respect, and encouraged me to speak my mind. For as long as I can remember my dad told me that a woman without education would always have to depend on someone else to take care of her and I would not be one of those women. Thank ...God I listened to every word. That same man took me and my babies in with no questions asked when my life suddenly fell apart and helped put us back together so we could become the family we are today. I would not be the wife or mother I am today if he had not shown me how. Here's to the man that I call anytime there is an important decision to be made because I know he will give me the best advice. Now I get to watch him teach my children the same lessons and watch as they absorb his wisdom and as Sam says, "grandpa's fun facts". Here's to the man who made me. Happy Fathers Day Trey Rusk!
Next week my Grandson and I are going to take a road trip. He has a learners permit and needs to learn to drive. I'm going to assist him. It will be my pleasure.
I leave you with this quote.
“The most powerful relationship you will ever have is the relationship with yourself.”
– Steve Maraboli