I would like to take the next few guest columns to provide tips on how to empower parents, grandparents and guardians to be the Chief Law Enforcement Officer in their child's life.
The Chief Law Enforcement Officer is not the Sheriff or Chief of Police, but instead is the mom, dad, grandparent, or foster parent that is raising the child.
As a young man growing up in North Florida, I never worried about being in trouble with law enforcement, as I was more worried about being in trouble with my parents.
Granted, today's parents and children face challenges like never before: Drugs, gangs, bullying and even social media have completely changed our ability to keep watch and hold them accountable for their actions.
Today's parenting is 24-hours-a-day and one of the most demanding jobs in the world, but it is also one of the most rewarding opportunities that life has to offer.
As a parent of four, I personally know how hard it is to "tough love" your child. As a veteran law enforcement for more than 35 years, I know that going to visit your child in prison is even harder, and going to see them in a cemetery is truly unimaginable!
Unfortunately, in today's society, those may just be the only choices you have. That's why it's important for you to have every tool possible, to be your child's personal cop.
Here are some helpful tips to start our series on how to stay involved in your child's life, hold them accountable for their actions, and also how to recognize potential problems they may face:
Establish expectations and consequences for actions. Kids want and need fences in their lives and having clear-cut expectations is a great way to establish right from wrong.
Be a good role model by showing understanding, respect for others, patience, and firmness.
Know who your child's friends are in person and online.
Be suspicious (as bad as that sounds, when parents are consistently suspicious of their children's actions, they have a tendency to be more involved and aware).
Stop believing everything they tell you is the truth. Ask yourself this question... Did you ever lie to your parents? If the answer is "yes," then it is only reasonable to assume that your kids are no different.
Discipline your child and hold them accountable for their actions. Don't be afraid to do what's right, and also make sure you praise them for doing what's right, as well.
Be innovative in your approach to parenting. Think outside-the-box on ways to involve your children in positive things and to make sure they understand the consequences of their actions and the importance of responsibility.
Establish open lines of communication with your children. Your child can't be scared to talk to you, even when they know they have done something wrong. Remember, if they don't feel they can talk to you, they will find someone else to discuss their problems with, who may not be the right role model for them.
Encourage your child to do great things, and praise them for their accomplishments. It can't be one way, in which they are only talked to about something they do wrong.
Teach your child to solve and cope with problems. Problem-solving is one of the most sought-after abilities in employment and life.
Volunteer at your child's school, and be involved in his or her extracurricular activities.
Plan family activities, without technology styled devices. Today's world is surrounded by texting, video and social media. Remember to refer to No. 2 on this one, and be the role model you hope they will be for their kids one day.
In the coming months, we will talk more about the many challenges parents and children face in today's society and the warning signs of potential problems in our children's lives.
While I know that parenting today is different than parenting of yesterday, the one thing that has not changed is that today's parents are training their kids to be parents of the future.
Wayne Ivey is the sheriff of Brevard County