Blood Lines & the Family Tree

Do ancestry and family ties have any bearing on career selection and personal interests?

I grew up in a loving family with a stay-at-home mother and a self-employed father. My father’s family lived in Northern Ireland and my mother’s side lived in Alberta and Saskatchewan. As such, we rarely saw my dad’s side and we visited my mom’s side once or twice a year. Childhood snapshots include memories of driving across Canada to spend summer months in Saskatchewan. The prairie wheat silos, the small green ranch house in Nipawin and the single lane bridge across the Saskatchewan River all come into play.

What I distinctly recall is the lack of exposure to law enforcement. With the exception of my dad playing rugby with a bunch of cops and firemen, and the one time the Vancouver Police Department used my parent’s house as a sniper post for a barricaded suspect (that’s a story for another post as it may have sparked my interest in becoming a police dog handler), there were no interactions or mentions of law enforcement or other public service jobs in our daily lives.

Now, though, my family tree is sprinkled with blue uniforms.

My grandfather (who died long before I was born) was Quarter Master and then Commandant for the British Red Cross (Belfast) during World War 2. I only found this out in 2010.

My husband is fire department Lieutenant, and his cousin is a fire fighter with the same agency.

My cousin is a detective with a police agency in Eastern Canada, and my brother-in-law is another fire fighter.

To top it off, my son has made noises about wanting to be a police officer when he grows up.  My daughter? Not so much – she’s still undecided.

My children’s thoughts do not come as a surprise, as they are surrounded by police officers and fire fighters on a regular basis. They hear the stories (even when we try to shield them) and experience what it is to be the child of a parent who serves the public good. That they would consider law enforcement or fire fighting as a career is expected, given they are raised in a certain environment.

That said, I’ve often wondered if the drive to serve the public, to work in law enforcement, and to run towards danger when others are running away from it are inherited or learned character traits. After reading up on and studying various theories on inheritance and genetics (Charles Darwin, mendelian inheritance, Lamarckism to name a few), I’m no closer to figuring it out.

Perhaps we are not meant to fully understand.

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