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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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Old 03-27-2014, 07:50 AM
Taydarling Taydarling is offline
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I do all I can in my power to keep our daughter and his connection strong.. Send him pictures. I take her to every visit. I put her on the phone with him. He makes her cards for every holiday. And writes her a little letter when he writes me.. We do all we can.
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Old 04-26-2015, 08:05 PM
wcollarblues wcollarblues is offline
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Default Most Important Thing to Do is Stay Connected

I was incarcerated in 2008-10, leaving behind a 3 year old and a 9 month old baby. I attended a federal prison camp in Arizona. After spending about the first week straight in a daze, either sobbing my heart out or trying to decide whether or not I should kill myself (not a joke- and suicide is not funny), I settled into a routine and set about the task of figuring out how to stay connected to my babies while stuck in what felt like hell to me at the time.

My kids are now 10 and 7, and I realize that I was EXTREMELY fortunate to have gone when I went, because the little one doesn't even remember me being gone (at least consciously) and the older one just remembers I went somewhere for a long time, but eventually returned.This isn't to say that there wasn't damage done to our family, only to point out that it could have been worse.

But to answer the question, what I did to keep connected to my kids (besides calling as often as possible and, however excruciating 15 minutes of "conversation" with 3 year olds can be (lol) doing my best to talk with them as much as possible during these calls, I also wrote them letters, wrote stories with them as the main characters and illustrated them, wrote songs and crude sheet music about and for them and sent them to my aunt (with whom they were staying while I was down) to attempt to decipher and play for them, painted pictures of them, learned to crochet and crafted blankets with their names etched into them, and had photos taken of me at regular intervals and mailed all of this in a steady stream until I finally got out. I tried to be consistent and although not reachable, PRESENT still in any way I could be.

None of this made me feel like mother of the year. I annoyed a lot of people dragging guitars into the phone rooms and playing songs while on the phone with my kids. I (illegally) went into business painting portraits for other inmates in order to acquire the supplies I needed for my projects. I displayed all the photos I received in the mail on my side of the cell and talked about my kids as much as was appropriate. I tried not to allow the creeping threat and sometimes temptation of just disconnecting from all of it (the guilt, the shame, the self-loathing, the anger, the intense and sometimes overwhelming desire to find a way to return to the past and change my future, the negative and pessimistic thoughts that were so difficult at times to shake, the paralyzing fear that I'd ruined my life completely for myself) and stayed chained to my loved ones, ever cognizant that I was certainly not the only one suffering as a result of my actions and of my failure to act.

In conclusion, although this isn't part of the question at hand, I feel that an important part of staying connected to your kids while incarcerated is how you choose to let your release play out. This was something that terrified me nearly to death. I was so afraid that my kids would reject me or worse- not even remember me when I got out. This was a little silly, since as I stated above, I kept the lines of communication open the whole time, but that's how I felt. I wasn't sure how I should act, how I would feel, how they would act, how I would handle it all...and I gave up planning it eventually because there were simply too many unknowns. When I finally was able to receive a visit from them while at the halfway house I released to, I spent the morning freaking out and securing all lose change in the facility in order to have enough funds to buy the babes ice cream when they arrived. I should probably mention here that I did not get to see them at all during my incarceration, because as a federal inmate, I could've been sent anywhere in the US for my prison sentence. I ended up being lucky and only having to attend prison in AZ, about a 7 hour drive from home in southern CA, but I did not get any visits for obvious reasons.

What I ended up deciding to do was to just act as natural as was possible and spend every moment of my visit on my knees at their level, touching them, talking to them, playing with them, making eye contact with them and giving them what they had been missing during the year and a half or so that I had been absent. I reconnected. It worked. It can work for you too. Don't fret. Don't despair. Think of ways to keep doing what you love doing with them now before prison while in prison.

If anyone would like to discuss this further, please PM me. Sorry for the exhaustive length of this post.
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Old 07-13-2015, 10:48 PM
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EDavis EDavis is offline
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Hello, my son is 7 years old and his father got sentenced to 20 years �� I'm just looking for guidance, understanding and positive ways on raising our son with a father who will be incarcerated for along time....this is scary! ��
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Old 07-14-2015, 10:30 AM
trauma4us trauma4us is offline
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Hi and welcome. My grandson is 8 and has been visiting his father for almost 2 years - we visit once/month with him. My son sends pics and letters to his son. At the visit, we let our grandson lead - he gets to do all the talking and decides what they do - drawing pics, reading, playing chess/checkers or cards.

We talk about our son with our grandson too. Sorry you are going thru this.
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Old 07-15-2015, 08:11 PM
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Thank you for your kindness
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Old 08-10-2015, 07:45 PM
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Trapt Trapt is offline
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Originally Posted by EDavis View Post
Hello, my son is 7 years old and his father got sentenced to 20 years �� I'm just looking for guidance, understanding and positive ways on raising our son with a father who will be incarcerated for along time....this is scary! ��
My son is 11 and my exhusband was also recently sentenced to 20yrs.
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Old 09-29-2015, 09:29 PM
purplelady16 purplelady16 is offline
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Default I don't have a lot of answers. Just a lot more questions...

I am a single mom of an almost 11 year old girl whose father is incarcerated. His first time being incarcerated since she was born was when she was 2 and he was there until she turned 5. He was rearrested when she was 7 and has been incarcerated since then. I have tried to help foster their relationship but I have some safety concerns. First, someone who he was incarcerated with got a hold of my home address and wrote me a letter. The person had no ill intentions and never wrote after that. However, I am worried that sending him a picture of my daughter could put her in danger should it fall into the wrong hands. I also don't usually send him school notifications or anything like that because I don't want what school she goes to to be available to other men in prison. He said he could call but my daughter refuses to talk to him on the phone and says that she hates writing letters. I don't have any solutions and telling her she has to write him doesn't seem like the right solution either. Any suggestions? He hasn't exactly been a very involved father when he was out of jail either and he lives 2200 miles away so visitation is out of the question. Thanks for reading my story.
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Old 01-25-2016, 11:59 PM
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deputydirector deputydirector is offline
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Default bond

Our children talk to their father at least 2-3 times a week. they send him pictures and coloring pages. They write him often and tell him what they are doing I school and at home. He is involved as he still gets to hand out consequences for behaviors. This helps the children know that dad is still very involved in what they do.
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Old 03-23-2017, 01:21 PM
justmecel justmecel is offline
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Default Angel Tree Program

The angel tree programs mission is to help keep that bond with the parent who is in jail.
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