A Teen's Perspective On Having A First Responder Parent With PTSI

first responder first responder children first responder family ptsd ptsi


Growing up with a First Responder Parent, I never really understood what goes on for him at work and how that affects me. 

When my Dad developed PTSD, he would get angry super quick. I always blamed it on myself for causing him to blow up. I was pretty hard on myself. My Dad was my hero and I looked at him as someone who could do no wrong. I really valued his opinion. 

As I got older I  started to develop my own opinion on things, most of which would differ from my Dad's opinion. At times I felt afraid to share my opinion because of the backlash I would get from my Dad. He would get really angry when I would argue with him. I felt belittled for my lack of experience in this world. This hurt me in so many ways because all I wanted was to be heard and for him to be understanding. I wish I knew back then what I know now, because if I did, I wouldn't have taken it so personally. 

To First Responder Children:

My biggest piece of advice for First Responder Children who have a parent with PTSD is to be understanding and know the way your parent is acting is not about you but about the stress they feel from the job.  Always remember that they love you and just what is best for you. They want you to be safe. 

Our First Responder Parents see the worst of humanity and want to protect you from what they see at work. Our First Responder Parent goes through a lot and sees things humans aren't meant to see. They want what is best for you. They want to see you succeed in life and although they may seem harsh at times, they are trying to protect you from something happening to you like they see at work. 

When you find yourself in conflict with your First Responder Parent try to listen to what they have to say. Instead of trying to get your point across, listen and respect them, it will make them want to respect you back. It will help you to both feel heard and understand each other. 

Our First Responder Parent deals with a lot of stress on a day to day basis. If you ever feel like they are being distant, it is not about you, it is because they need a break. Trying to force a conversation with a tired and stressed out First Responder Parent does not go well, trust me. 

Instead give them an hour or so of a break, that they deserve and try again in an hour. One of the biggest things that I have learned is that you need to avoid hot topics when tension is high. Save that conversation for later when they are in a good head space and not stressed out or tired. 

Try to put your mind in other areas and not focus on it as your mood will go down. Stay positive, keep hopeful, tell yourself it will get better. Calming yourself down will give you a better outlook. Taking a break to do something you enjoy or going for a walk, will give you a break and time to get a different perspective. 

To First Responder Parents:

First Responder Parents make sure that your child feels like they are being heard and respected. If they don’t feel like you are understanding of them, then they aren’t going to come to you in tough times.

Have empathy towards your kids, even if you don’t agree with them, listen to what they have to say and if you do, they will listen to you too. Way too many times I see parents so set in their ways that their kids can’t even reason with them. This creates a toxic relationship that I know you do not want. After listening, your opinion may not change, but at least your child will feel respected and heard. 

Another thing, is to make sure that your child knows what is going on with their First Responder parent. Let them know it has nothing to do with them and most importantly give them hope. Reassure them that things will get better but for now they have to be as strong as they can be. 

Kids should find something to keep their minds off what is going on at home. Like for example my escape is going golfing but yours might be something else, it doesn't matter what it is. As long as it helps keep their mind off what is going on at home. Remember Idle hands are the devil's workshop so try to keep your children busy it's not easy but be persistent.  

Tell your kids progress updates, how appointments are going, what you are working on, it helps kids to stay positive and hopeful.  

First Responder Families:

In life there will always be ups and downs and PTSD is another curve ball life has thrown at your family. You will overcome it. Never ever give up because just when things seem like they are at their very worst is right before they get better. Remember to never ever give up, things will get better, it might just take some time. My dad now can regulate and calm himself down to listen to me. Trust your parent will too.

By: Reid Williamson

Teenage Son of a First Responder with PTSD

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