Despite often involving in their PSP’s organization and supporting them outside of work, PSP families may have an ambivalent relationship with that role as they navigate their own needs and wellbeing. Ambivalence is where family members recognize the needs of the PS job as important, but it also challenges family expectations and relationships and can be hard to navigate. Being a part of an organization often means that those within it are expected to behave in particular ways, enact particular roles, and support the organization’s values, ideals, and practices. Loyalty to the organization can be experienced as a way of life for PSP families. The expectations associated with being part of the organization highlight the importance of the job and why families become immersed in it as well. Want to learn more about ambivalence, see: Ambivalence Jealous of the Job
PSPs and family immersion in the PS culture as well as their loyalty to the PS organization is necessary for PSPs to succeed in their roles. While loyalty to the PSP organization is essential, it cannot happen without sacrifices at the family level. The ability of non-PSP spouses and other family members to develop a sense of duty and responsibility to the community through supporting their PSPs pays back a true sense of pride and not only disperses negative feelings of resentment of family lifestyle and jealousy of the job, but also helps them cope with the negative reactions from the public.
PSP families may identify themselves in terms of the organization. For example, they may introduce themselves as a “cop’s wife” or a “cop’s kid”, “EMS family”, or even “half the badge”. PSP families adopt the lifestyle associated with being a PSP family and begin to identify themselves with the “first responder lifestyle”. Although there is a sense of belonging and support from being a part of an organization, there are also expectations and pressures that the families may face, such as having to adjust their social behaviors to align with the organization’s ideals. Moreover, both social and intimate relationships could suffer due to the lack of time and flexibility in the PSPs schedule. The contradiction arise because the job that makes a PSP family member feel proud, and loyal, is the very thing that takes their spouse/significant other/ parent/ guardian away. It is also the same thing that is changing them, interrupting family life, and creating a lack of synchronicity with other social possibilities.
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