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Raising Children with Parents in Prison For the Parent left behind with children AND for the Children that have a parent inside. Discussion of unique challenges facing this group!

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  #1  
Old 06-17-2020, 11:58 PM
SadSurprised SadSurprised is offline
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Default Telling children about their incarcerated parent

Hi,
I am wondering what people tell their children when their parent is incarcerated.
Also, do any of the children’s friends tease or bully them about their parent? I’m sure the answers vary depending on the children’s ages and other factors, but what is your experience. Is there anything that has worked or not worked?
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Old 06-18-2020, 02:14 AM
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Personally I would tell my child because I wouldn't want them to think that their father has left and abandoned them. I would also tell them not to tell their friends as children tend to bully oneanother and if they should tell their parents then you child might end up with no friends. But this is my own opinion.
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Old 06-18-2020, 06:31 AM
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I think it totally depends on the age of the child the length of stay, the living arrangements (married, separated or divorced, etc)
A difficult thing to have to deal with, thats for sure.
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Old 06-18-2020, 09:03 AM
nene_510 nene_510 is offline
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I have two young adults and two kids under 5. The older ones have been fully aware of the situation. Their dad is serving 30 months. For the little ones we weren’t sure. We spoke to my Sons teacher who has been a great support system. She advised we not tell them for fear of the kids teasing him. We decided on telling them dad left for a job out of state. That we can write but it will be a long while until he returns. They are too young to understand in my case.
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Old 06-18-2020, 05:03 PM
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Age is definitely a factor. Mine are all under 6 so its really no big deal.
Sometimes I wish I did not tell them but given the fact that they came to our house and took him away in front of our kids several times, they already had questions. Anytime were on the phone my 4 yr old questions him why he is there and when is he coming home - it somewhat hurts to hear. Today it was, "why are you staying there a long time, you dont want to come home?"
My 6 year old has never brought it up at school. They dont even speak of it unless we are on the phone with him.
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Old 06-18-2020, 08:36 PM
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My best friend at age 6 had a father in prison. I thought nothing of it. My son doesn't think anything of my bf in prison, neither do his friends or my friends. My son is 16. His father is dead. We live in the most forgiving town I've ever experienced. But. We're not from here, and my friend at age 6 was in a different area entirely.

My PERSONAL belief is tell the kids. It is what it is. Kids get teased NO MATTER WHAT. I was teased for being blonde, making good grades, being thin, you know-all those things "everyone wants to be" but in reality doesn't. People will FIND a way to tease EVERY child. Period. Getting teased can hurt. It can also build calluses. Every child is different. So, while teasing made me not give a crap what people think of me, it may make another child curl into a ball and need therapy. Don't get me wrong. That's what I did THEN, but as an adult, I molded my pain into strength.

Accepting the truth of their situation can do several things. It can allow them to weed the real friends from the fakes-the good from the ugly. It can help other children and people of the community become more aware of the diversity around them and the prevalence of prison in families, which in turn can cause acceptance and understanding. I have a severely retarded cousin I grew up with. I defended her mercilessly. But her presence educated other children and brought diversity and acceptance. Not telling them can cause them to form trust issues and shame for their parent. Acceptance of the situation can build strength in them and the family. It allows them to grow up telling the truth, no matter what that truth is. Owning the truth.

Every child, family, and community is different. Hopefully you will receive enough differing opinions here to form your own. And hopefully it is the best choice. I would also pray on it and think what would God do? What would He want me to do? Again, this is all my personal opinion.

I will also say from personal experience telling someone they're in prison is the easy part. It's when they ask "why" they're in prison it gets hard. That's going to be the difficult part of your talk with the kids and their explanation with others. A simple "I'll tell you when you're older," or simple truthful explanation like "He took something he shouldn't have," can be enough for the small children. The "I'll tell you when you're older," is very helpful when other kids ask cause then they can say,"I don't know."

Last edited by Jacob's Girl; 06-18-2020 at 08:38 PM..
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Old 06-19-2020, 07:11 PM
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Our son has been in prison since our grandson was 7years old - he is now almost 14. He knows as unfortunately it was on TV and was the "big news" of the day. He does tell people that his Dad is in prison if asked and so far, though some kids are surprised he hasn't been bullied or had any issues.
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Old 06-20-2020, 07:20 AM
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My son was 15 when my hub was arrested. It was all over the news, so I didnt have to tell him.
For me, it was one of my biggest worries. How would my son be treated. He was rather popular in high school and active in many areas of school life.
I will tell you this.

He did fine. He had a ton of friends (who most of them knew my hub) they ALL had his back. I had a ton of them over all the time for at least a year after all this went down. They not only supported my son, but me as well just by being here supporting my son.
So I'll say it again, it depends on the child, and the childs age.


I did go to the school and basically told them, if I hear of any bullying, or name calling or any bs, I will be on them like a fly on you know what. I never had to. Even my son's teachers were supportive of him. They kept an eye out.
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Old 06-21-2020, 09:16 PM
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Children are not miniature adults. They do not have the cognitive ability to understand adult issues. I believe that children should be told only as much as would be considered age-appropriate. However, a topic as serious as having a parent, sibling or other loved one in prison needs to be talked about by & with the child. Questions asked & answered.

Telling a child that their loved one broke the law and now has to accept his punishment then telling that child to not tell anyone, IMHO, leaves the door wide open for the child to feel"different," inferior, to develop low self-esteem, and to avoid friends so as not to be tempted to spill the beans.


There are age-appropriate books at your public library no matter your children's ages.



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Old 06-27-2020, 11:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by patchouli View Post
Children are not miniature adults. They do not have the cognitive ability to understand adult issues. I believe that children should be told only as much as would be considered age-appropriate. However, a topic as serious as having a parent, sibling or other loved one in prison needs to be talked about by & with the child. Questions asked & answered.

Telling a child that their loved one broke the law and now has to accept his punishment then telling that child to not tell anyone, IMHO, leaves the door wide open for the child to feel"different," inferior, to develop low self-esteem, and to avoid friends so as not to be tempted to spill the beans.


There are age-appropriate books at your public library no matter your children's ages.



Yes, this is definitely a balance. We need to teach them that they don't need to be vulnerable and open up to untrustworthy people about their personal lives--not just about this topic but about other matters. Simultaneously, we don't want them to feel inferior and feel the need to keep secrets. It's a tough call, and I love this response and all the responses here so far. It's really a topic a lot of parents can think about.
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Old 08-17-2020, 09:32 PM
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Yes tell your kids. Better they hear from you than others. My son was teased bc of his dad.
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Old 10-16-2020, 09:36 AM
WaitingWilkes WaitingWilkes is offline
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It will be better coming from the free parent than from the news, neighborhood kids, schoolmates, etc.
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