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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 09-04-2004, 08:40 AM
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Lightbulb What can we do to help keep the parent/child bond strong with an incarcerated parent?

What can we do to help keep the parent/child bond strong? I'm thinking that if we all post ideas it may help some of us by giving us other ideas....

I'll start. Our youngest just turned 10. Since Bill's been in he calls every night and Zach gets a few minutes of every call to talk to him. They write to each other every couple of weeks. We visit and Zach goes with to 99% of the visits. At the visits they take some time out to play a game or draw together. I send in copies of each report card, class schedule, hockey schedule and Bill keeps track of the games that way, copies of all pictures I take (I get duplicates each time), and I send in all of Zach's school work after Zach and I've reviewed it etc...... Bill will tell him on the phone about a certain sports game or movie he's watching or going to watch and then they'll each watch it and talk/write about it... They discuss Zach's school work and projects during visits or on the phone...

What other ideas have each of you come up with?

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Old 09-04-2004, 10:13 AM
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Deb! You go above and beyond the call of duty! You are an amazing mother sending in all of that. Bill must feel so unbelievably connected to his son with all the work you do. Daily he seems to know whats up in his sons life, even though he's not present.

Sadly, he's taking a bigger part in his sons life than parents that aren't even locked up.
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Old 09-04-2004, 10:22 AM
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I'm glad you started this thread because i always wanted to know what to do. I do all that i can do... i.e., school reports and news letters, photos of the kids weekly, the kids write weekly, etc... But my question is this... how do youhelp to keep a bond between a parent incarcerated and a teenage child? My fiance has a 17 yr old son and an 18 yr old son, but he doesnt have any kind of bond with them. He is hurting because of it. He wants the bond but doesnt know how to get earn it. Is it too late? He writes his daughter often but she doesnt reply. He now just wants to give up. I keep telling him to persist. Has anyone got any ideas on what he can do?
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Old 09-04-2004, 10:33 AM
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He has to persist. It seems like his kids are at that age where parents are the root of all that is evil. I *HATED* my mom when I was a teenager...but now she's my best friend. It just takes a lot of time and a lot of growing up. My dad traveled for a living and he wrote me a few times a week when I was a kid. He's since died and you better believe I have every letter he ever wrote me...even though I never sent one to him.
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Old 09-04-2004, 10:48 AM
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Our daughters are 13 & 15 years old and they have a great bond and relationship with their dad. He has been inside for most of their lives so this is really they only life they even remember with him. They talk at least twice a week and he writes them a few times a month. We only get to visit though during our trailers because of the distance that we have to travel to get to him. I take them with me every other trailer so that we can have our "family time" during some of the trailers and he and I get to have our "private time" during the others and it has worked well this way for us for all of these years.

Now though as they get older they have so many other interests so they have less of a desire to want to go spend time with Dad. He feels kind of sad and happy at the same time because he realizes that his babies are becoming young women. We are hopeful that he gets paroled before our oldest graduates high school.

We all just do what we can to help make our family as normal as possible despite the circumstances.
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Old 09-04-2004, 11:40 AM
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Wow Deb this is just the post we need on this forum. You know this is my first time posting in here, because my son is my husbands "stepson" I am so glad he (my husband) can't read this (about "stepson) because he will be the first one to say. He is that boys father. My ex only sees him, but doesn't participate in anything when it comes to school, outside interest etc..... When Tim our son (14 yrsold) registered for 8th grade. we sent him a copy of his schedule. I keep him updated on how are son is doing in school etc.... Tim writes when I encourage him to because being a teenager he is too "busy" and I have to gently remind him that it is very important to write dad, because dad is so far away we can't visit (we are in florida he is in texas). Herb is in the early stages of parole and Tim is going to write a letter for his dad to the parole board. Didn't think about the school work until this was mentioned. He will be sent a copy of interim reports and report cards. We update pictures for him. and I also get double prints on pictures to be able to send them to him. I keep him updated on how tim has grown since june 04. he was 5'6 went his dad went in and now he is 6' size 13 shoes and wearing his dad's jeans to school. Thanks Deb for starting this for us. Love Jeanne
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Old 09-09-2004, 10:06 AM
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mlg78, I agree with the persist. I am on the outside all together. We plan to make a "yours, mine and ours" family one day. My honey has children from previous relationships (where 2 mothers are involved). He is closer to one child than the others. He writes, but gets so discouraged by the lack of correspondance from them. They are 10, 11, and 12. I try to encourage him to keep giving, after all (that's part of being a parent). And they really are good kids. But he gets so hurt by it. He has not seen his children in more than 3 years now. Their aunt use to take them to visit, but she has a family of her own to take care of.

Does anyone have any suggestions to help him get through it and ways to encourage his children to know that he still loves them?
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Old 10-06-2004, 02:16 AM
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Deb, I think that you're doing all the right things to help facilitate keeping your son and his father's relationship going strong. It's WONDERFUL that both of them are open to it and are very close. This is going to come in good stead, especially when your son enters the throes of adolescence when teenagers think that their parents don't know squat (which I think is the natural course of action in any regular teen.)

My guy was incarcerated when the kids were in the 1st and 2nd grades. He got copies of their report cards, school pictures, any art that would get through the DOC... He made it a point to talk to the kids whenever he called home. When he was on island I would bring them with me at every other visit. When my daughter had issues with me, she would talk to him and he would be able to calm her down.

Now my children are 12 and 13 and we still keep communication open between the kids and my loved one. However, now they're getting into their own thing, so he keeps available whenever they're ready to talk. Otherwise, he doesn't push. And I leave it all up to them.
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Old 10-17-2004, 08:21 PM
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My husband constantly writes letters to our daughter who is 16mths old. When she was born he wrote her a letter by the time i brought her home .. it was 2 pages long and it said htat he was sorry for not being here for the birth or the pregnacy.. He said that he love her and that it is not her nor mine fault that he is locked up.. Its just that daddy made a mistake and he has to pay for it. and when she goes thru things i write him updates like its from her.... and he loves that..
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Old 10-17-2004, 08:45 PM
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I take tons of pictures and our son "writes" letters, draws and sometimes he tells me what to write and I write it for him. Whenever his dad calls they always talk. Our son has gone to 2 of the 2 visits we have had. He was 2 when we divorced and 3 1/2 when his dad went away.

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Old 10-18-2004, 07:55 AM
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Any thoughts for a 20 month old? Levi's dad hass been in since he was 6 weeks old and won't be out until he is 4 1/2. I bring him on visits, but my husband was just moved and the visits will now be infrequent. His dad does talk to him on the phone and I show him photos of "Dada". I also send my husband photos and drawings that Levi does. I know my husband loves him and feels as close to him as he can considering the circumstances. But I really feel that to my son, his dad is just another person he sees now and then. Ideas?
Sue
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Old 10-19-2004, 10:12 AM
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Did you think about having your husband draw pictures to kind of bring the level of convo to a toddler level? You know kiddie pictures or maybe have somebody in there draw some. My wife sometimes sends homemade cards with cartoon characters she knows the kids like. They feel a little more connected by her identifying with their life.

One thing my wife also does is sends the kids "coupons". One will say "One solo phone conversation with mommy" or "One get out of trouble free card" or other things like that, which I have to honor if he uses them. That way the kids feel like mommy (in most of your cases daddy) is still around and actually involved in decisions and more importantly treats.

GREAT THREAD DEB.


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Originally Posted by suzeg3
Any thoughts for a 20 month old? Levi's dad hass been in since he was 6 weeks old and won't be out until he is 4 1/2. I bring him on visits, but my husband was just moved and the visits will now be infrequent. His dad does talk to him on the phone and I show him photos of "Dada". I also send my husband photos and drawings that Levi does. I know my husband loves him and feels as close to him as he can considering the circumstances. But I really feel that to my son, his dad is just another person he sees now and then. Ideas?
Sue
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Old 11-16-2004, 12:35 PM
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My 4 year old thinks dad is in school. I'm not sure if he really comprehends, and don't really want him to tell others at his preschool. Anyone else feel that way?

I do keep my husband up to date on what's going on. I take our son to all the visits I have, tell him all the cute things he did/say, how his day went at pre-school, mail the drawings he does, and let him know how his progress is on his learning. I even tell him about the times he misbehaves just like if he was home. I talk to our son about the things his dad used to do when he was home, and all the things that he has planned for the father and son outings (like flying airplanes, working on cars, going to see monster trucks, fishing, etc.) I have pictures all over the house and our son looks at them all the time and say I miss daddy! Breaks my heart. He gets to talk to his dad on the phone, and we're very close to my in-laws so we talk about his dad openly over there. Also when we go visit, I let them have "private time" together. maybe they leave to the kids section and play, talk, or color, or I'll leave them alone at the table and go outside for a while so they can bond a little more. I figure even if he's locked up, they should still have memories of their own, and fun times together. Plus I think as they interact more just the 2 of them it will help with the transition when Dad comes home.

Another hard thing to do is to let my hubby disipline him when needed. That way our son won't start to think...only mommy can say that, or I don't have to listen to you. So if he acts up, Daddy sometimes says you have to sit in timeout for a few minutes and I stick by his side and say...you have to listen to daddy, do as he says.

My husband will also send pictures that he draws to our son, and be silly during the visits. Make funny faces, play games, and talk funny just to make everyone laugh.
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Old 11-30-2004, 01:05 AM
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Hi I'm new to this and I have a huge concern for my 9 year old son. he used to write to his dad on a regular basis and now he doesn't want to. After asking him a million times he finally told me he's mad at him and doesn't wanna know anything about him. I asked him why and he said because if it weren't for him we wouldn't be struggling or going through pain. That is where I realized that my son see's what I go through because I have 3 kids in total. the youngest is 15 months and she's only seen her father a few times. I was 3 months pregnant when he got arrested. he's going on 2 years being locked up. so my son has seen me catch nervous break downs and crying and struggling to make ends meet. Not to mention the arguing that he has heard on the phone calls, the horrible letters that I've gotten or the visits. He doesnt want to write to him anymore. His dad thinks I am keeping his kids from me and threatens me. Or that his son's are preoccupied with a new dad. How can I do that to my kids you know give him a new dad? I love that man but I see my kids in pain and I wanna help them and don't know how. I talk to him alot and tell him that's his dad that he should forgive him and speak to him about it. I was thinking of getting counseling for us. I really feel like I'm losing my mind. I've been with this guy for almost 12 years. (we make 12 next month) and I have never been apart from him like this. I think about him all day. I feel soooo stressed out. I feel like doing all this by myself is tooo much for me.

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Old 01-17-2005, 08:50 AM
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I was going to start a new thread about this but then I found this sticky. We started something a couple of weeks ago and the kids really like it. I sometimes stick notes in my daughter's library book, in my son's shoes, lunchbox, etc. to let them know I love them, I'm proud of them, etc. So I talked to their dad. He has written notes on notecard size pieces of paper and sent them to me. So now they sometimes get a note from Dad instead of me. I know the kids really like them because when they get a note from me they thank me and then it is quickly discarded. But their Dad's notes, I keep finding in places where they can pick them up and read them again. My little one keeps on asking me to read his notes from Dad again.

Candy
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Old 02-02-2005, 10:57 PM
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This is such a great topic. I have three boys (7yrs, 4 yrs and 7 months). Their father has been away since our youngest was only 4 weeks old. He is in Pa and we are in Ca so at best we will see him twice a year. I have really been strugling to find ways for our boys and their daddy to feel close and connected. I will be using some of the great ideas posted. I also made a kind of picture journal of a day in each of my boys' lives. You know ...first a picture of them in bed in thier p.j.'s then eating breakfast,brushing teeth, getting on school bus, etc. Also pictures of the people in their lives (friends, teachers, busdrivers, babysitters) so he will know who they are talking about and spending time with. Thanks for the great ideas!
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Old 02-08-2005, 12:58 AM
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I was working with a client tonight and he told me that he had participated in a program while he was in prison that involved selecting a book for his son, tape recording the book, and having the book and tape mailed to his son. He said this was a program similar to Angel Tree. Does anyone know what this is and how to get involved? I know that my grandaughter would love to listen to a book her mommy read to her.
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Old 02-08-2005, 10:49 AM
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Default I think pictures help!

Well Deb my fiance has been in prison since I was pregnant with our now 3 month old daughter, she will be 5 by the time he comes out so I decided that everytime she takes a pic, i will send it to him, I plan to visit atlest once a month, and he calls twice a month cause I can't afford it at the moment but as she gets iolder I'm hoping for the same set up that you have with your son Zac by the way that is my fiance's name also.
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What can we do to help keep the parent/child bond strong? I'm thinking that if we all post ideas it may help some of us by giving us other ideas....

I'll start. Our youngest just turned 10. Since Bill's been in he calls every night and Zach gets a few minutes of every call to talk to him. They write to each other every couple of weeks. We visit and Zach goes with to 99% of the visits. At the visits they take some time out to play a game or draw together. I send in copies of each report card, class schedule, hockey schedule and Bill keeps track of the games that way, copies of all pictures I take (I get duplicates each time), and I send in all of Zach's school work after Zach and I've reviewed it etc...... Bill will tell him on the phone about a certain sports game or movie he's watching or going to watch and then they'll each watch it and talk/write about it... They discuss Zach's school work and projects during visits or on the phone...

What other ideas have each of you come up with?

Deb
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Old 03-04-2005, 10:22 PM
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I have two teenagers 19/17 that don't want anything to do with their dad. Their theory is that if he cared about them, he wouldn't be sitting in jail. They have a point, but I tell them that he is the only dad they will ever have. They have been mad for a few years since this is his second time to go in there. I can't say I blame them, but it hurts to see them so upset about their own father. I am hoping that it will work out when he decides that life is much more productive on the outside. Our youngest daughter is happy to visit him when we go, but doesn't always want to go. I don't push her.
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Old 03-09-2005, 01:36 PM
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This thread encourages me, because we're facing a 16 year sentence. My husband adores our children, and they him, and I worry about how to keep them close as the years go on. They're currently 2, 4, and 6.

Right now he's in county, and I sent him some kids books that he reads to them during our visits. I also bought a speaker phone so he could read to them before bed, too. I think the key is to remain positive about Daddy, and they'll pick up their attitudes from you.

Steph
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Old 10-13-2005, 10:54 AM
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hey i understand what u r going through my son was 8 months old and when they move him i dont have a car a very little money we keep in contact by letters and phone call once in a blue im concerned about my son not going up without a dad my son is 2 now he is doing fine but he has four years to go
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Old 10-14-2005, 09:18 PM
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My husband has reciently (11 days ago) started a 23month -38month sentance. We have a 4 year old also. we have also told our daughter that her dad had to go away to "learn some things".right now he is still in the county jail waiting for a bed, and it makes it especially hard, because the only way to visit him is through glass with a straight phone receiver. She misses her dad so much, and like you it breaks my heart to hear her crying for him. I don't know how to respond when she asks where he is. I have been very hesitant about taking her into see him now in the situation he is in now, because I think with all of the changes already in place, it will be too much for her to be able to see him and hear him, but not touch him. My mother in law is of the opinion that I should take her there, so I talked to my daughter's preschool teacher(an old friend of my mother's), and she made the excelent point that children that young will repeate it, and you never want anyone to sat, "oh that is bad" or " your dad is bad". That was never something that I thought about. My grandfather's neighbor is a child psycologist, and his advice was not to take her into that situation, but at some point that she should know where he is. We were thinking that when she is a little bit older and able to understand more, that we could certainly turn this horrible situation itno a good life lesson for her. Not a lesson as in " you should be scared to live your life the way you want it and always keep on the straight and narrow" but just that you need to be careful and be sure you view the conciquences of your choices before you make them. But what do you tell them in these first months. What do you say when they wake you up in the morning and ask if their daddy is going to pick them up from school, or when is he comming home. She asked me the other day if daddy would be home in july(both of their birthdays are in july) How do I tell her that he's not giong to be home for two birthdays. I know that two years is not a long time compared to many of your lives, and I find so much admiration looking through all of these posts. I can't imagine what strong people there are in the world. I only hope to be able to maintain half as well in these few years as many of you have in much longer of a time. Three cheers to all of you. If anyone has any advice on how to get through this first little bit, it would mean alot to us.
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Old 10-15-2005, 09:49 AM
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Kee- You'll want to read thru the threads in this forum as many members have shared the pros and cons of what they've told their children as well as how to handle situations..... You aren't alone in this and many of us on PTO have kids and are in this situation.... ((hugs))

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Old 10-30-2005, 06:29 PM
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that is so true ...my daddy has been locked up since i was 5 and he wrote me all the time but i didnt get any of the letters until i was 12. i wish i did stay connected with him when i was younger because it would of been easier to adjust. Now Im 18 and i write him every week and i go see him once a month. i try to stay as close to him as possible cuz i know he needs me as inspiration. well he gets out next august and i cant wait
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Old 11-04-2005, 12:55 PM
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What I do to keep them involved with their dad is to let them talk to him on the phone when he calls. They also come to visits with me. My older daughter loves to draw pictures for her dad and we mail them to him. I also talk as if he is still around and tell them that he will be home soon and that he loves them and misses them very much. I try to make him still seem a real part of their lives.

Kate
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