Reserving Sufficient Time for Family
Being emotionally available to all family members is only part of the formula for a happy home life. The amount of time spent at home is also important. It can be easy for law enforcement officers to fall into poor patterns of behavior, putting the demands of their career above the needs of their family. It's easy to take special duty, outside details, and tons of overtime and justify them as necessary to furnish the financial support needed to sustain the family. But there is no substitute for mom or dad, for husband or wife—presence in the home is essential.
Know from the start that there are going to be many career requirements that will keep you away from home far more often than you might expect. These aren't the extra things that you might choose to take on, but the nuts-and-bolts of the job that come up from time to time. Training courses, seminars, mandatory testing for recertification, extra duty because the next shift called in sick, stakeouts that sometimes last days, prisoner transports to and from distant locations; all of these are part of the list of things that can wreck a quiet dinner for two or the chance to see your child's soccer game. Since these obstacles to family life do erupt now and then, it's important to remember when the time comes to choose between your child's game and joining your coworkers for a couple of drinks after work. Bonding with coworkers is important, but wise law enforcement professionals understand there are limits to socialization, and that the truly important things in their lives are not found in a pub, but at home.
It's a good idea to establish a quota of additional hours each week or each month that an agent is willing to put into work. Once that quota is reached, the agent needs to be disciplined and able to say no to additional details or assignments and to spend that time with family instead.