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Old 01-16-2018, 05:08 AM
EleanorLRP EleanorLRP is offline
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Default Preparing for son's release

Hi all,

I want to do all I can to help my son settle into a good, productive life once he is released. He has been incarcerated this time since 2012 and is due to be released this April. Prior to this he has been incarcerated many times, mostly brief stays. increasing to this six year sentence. My son is now 33.

The trouble with my son is he is so caught up in what I see as a fantasy world of gangs. He seems himself as a "gangster" when really they are all just playing games. He grew up in a very safe middle class suburb, indeed a gated community, and my husband and I always did our very best for him during his childhood - a top private school, tennis and piano lessons, private tutors, anything to help set him up and give him a head start.

However from his early teens on he got caught up in gang culture, joining local 'gangs' that emulated the urban gangs seen in films and music videos, but really spent their time doing graffiti and shoplifting in our local communities. He was expelled from school when he was sixteen and from there continued on the downward spiral. Shoplifting turned to robbery and mugging. Marijuana turned into some harder drugs which the robberies helped pay for. Fortunately he never really became an addict of hard drugs per se, his problems were not generally those of addiction (which I have seen in others). Instead, whilst some of his earlier 'gang' friends grew out of it over time, and some of them went back to school and lead productive lives now, my son is still clinging to it all.

When he is released, I need for him to get a job and set out on his own productive, lawful life. I will help him along the way. I want to help him clean up his image and outlook first, getting away from the ridiculous gang stuff. It sounds small, but talking to others I feel like it is the basic things that need to change before the big life changes can occur.

I want him to start speaking properly (not the barely legible Ebonics he puts on despite being white), pull his pants above his knees so he can walk properly (has not for about twenty years), and stop hanging around with the stragglers and losers left around. From there, I feel like he will be better situated to find a small local job, and perhaps seek some more education to increase his future life opportunities.

I am just wondering if anyone has similar experiences, and very grateful to hear your opinions on my approach. Do you think cleaning up the image and breaking away from the gang culture is the right approach to start with, taking things slowly and moving on up?

Very many thanks for reading,
Yours,
Eleanor P.

Last edited by EleanorLRP; 01-16-2018 at 05:14 AM..
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Old 01-16-2018, 05:29 AM
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It's absolutely the right choice but he has to be the one who wants to change. When he gets home if your putting pressure on him to change and nagging him about it all your going to do is push him right back into that life. Have you spoken to him about what he is going to do when he comes home?? Start there and see what he wants and support his though it. Take things slow. I wish you both the best.
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Old 01-16-2018, 06:27 AM
EleanorLRP EleanorLRP is offline
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Thank you. I do fear pushing him away by appearing to just be nagging him. At the same time I don't want to be enabling poor habits or relapses into unlawful behaviour by being a wallflower. Finding the happy medium is difficult! That's why I am trying to come from a place of love and future thinking, trying to build up his image and confidence as an adult in the 'real world'.

Unfortunately despite being offered education programs inside, he is not interested, simply complaining all the time that he is always bored and hungry in jail, and that is it! He also speaks about how excited he is to see old friends again when he is released. My concern is these are unlikely to be the sort of friends beneficial to his growth on the outside.
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Old 01-16-2018, 07:56 AM
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Is he going to be on parole? Cause they are going to be nagging him and probably giving him all sorts of things he has to follow.

If he seems as if he's not willing to follow those rules, maybe you should consider not allowing him to move back *home*

He may find that many of his old friends have grown up and are no longer admiring the *gang life*
He's got to be the one to want to change it up and get right here.

Its hard to watch.
Which is one reason Ive not seen my eldest son in probably over 2 yrs. Maybe more.
I couldnt watch it, nor take his abuse. (verbal, physical, and property damage....mostly due to drug use)
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Old 01-16-2018, 08:02 AM
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Welcome to Prison Talk. I'm sorry for what you are having to deal with, but I agree that his future (honorable or prison) will be determined by your son regardless of what you do. It doesn't sound as if a good outcome is likely either, but I hope he surprises you when he is released.

Set a good example, give him appropriate options, and definitely don't enable his bad behavior. Let him know that you love him unconditionally, and that is why you don't want him to spend the rest of his life going in and out of prison.
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Old 01-18-2018, 10:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EleanorLRP View Post
Thank you. I do fear pushing him away by appearing to just be nagging him. At the same time I don't want to be enabling poor habits or relapses into unlawful behaviour by being a wallflower. Finding the happy medium is difficult! That's why I am trying to come from a place of love and future thinking, trying to build up his image and confidence as an adult in the 'real world'.

Unfortunately despite being offered education programs inside, he is not interested, simply complaining all the time that he is always bored and hungry in jail, and that is it! He also speaks about how excited he is to see old friends again when he is released. My concern is these are unlikely to be the sort of friends beneficial to his growth on the outside.
Reasonable concerns. A therapist when my son was in trouble as a teen suggested a contract that listed expectations and consequences. I ran across it since he has been incarcerated. We have talked about it and our plan is to do one for when he gets out. He doesn't want to feel like he is my personal slave and housekeeper and I don't want to feel like his bank account. He will be just shy of 30 when he gets out after an 8 year sentence. House rules, goals, chores in exchange for financial aid. Both sides need to be realistic in their expectations.

Maybe presenting it within the contract framework to your son to include speaking dressing, behaving and acting in the same manner as would be necessary for employment because you never know what potential emploiyer might see you on the street or in the grocery store for which you will assist him in those things needed like cell phone and proper clothing would he a start or at least a less confrontional way to approach the subject.
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Old 01-18-2018, 11:34 AM
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I really like Lizlizzie's contract idea. It can spell out what each is expected to do. That way both of you are not surprised or stressed as much. Hoping things go well for you both.
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Old 01-18-2018, 10:12 PM
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I think it is important to make him feel like an adult and not let him get too comfortable staying home while unemployed. He wants to go out? With what money? He should feel that he is given the opportunity to get free room and board and little more, with an understanding that he is expected to get a job as soon as possible.

If possible, he should not even have his own phone until he can afford it. Get a house landline if this is still an option and you don't have one already, or allow him to provide a family member's phone number to employers until he finds a job. It's OK if you have to take messages or call him into the room. You certainly want to see whether it is true that he is applying for jobs. If you give him a cell phone at your expense, you should have the right to check the contents any time you want, because you are paying, so it's really your phone.

He should be expected to do his own chores, such as laundry, and his share of any common chores when it's his turn, but without any allowance. Adults do chores at home without getting paid, and his money should come from his job. And by the way, one of the house rules should be that at a certain time at night, the house is locked and he has to ring the bell to be let in. No going out after that hour, and no money for going out.

Naturally, he should be allowed to return home late from work if he gets that kind of job, and he should move out or be allowed to go have fun once he is earning his own money. Because if he is not, he should not expect his family to finance his fun activities, and why stay out late with little to no money, probably looking for trouble? But during the workweek, if he is not employed, he should wake up at a decent hour and do his job during business hours. His job would be to apply for jobs.

Things like that are not meant to make his life difficult. They are supposed to teach him responsibility. Nobody says that you cannot have any fun after work or job-searching hours. You can even choose to let him live with you while employed and save some money, for instance if he is serious about getting further education or paying for some other important thing that he may not be able to afford if he is paying market rates for rent to live elsewhere. It's just that such house rules would encourage him to act as an adult who has to earn his keep and is grateful for whatever help he gets rather than as a child who feels entitled to get things from his parents and wants even more.
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Old 01-20-2018, 06:47 PM
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One thing he could do, is apply for SNAP benefits (food stamps) as soon as he gets out. Those freshly released from prison automatically qualify. That would at least allow him to feed himself without being a drain on mom's budget.

Those on SNAP automatically qualify for free cell phone and service from the federal government as well, through the Lifeline program: https://www.safelinkwireless.com/

In order to maintain those benefits, he'll need to be actively looking for work until he finds at least a part-time (24 hours/week) job or starts attending school at least half-time. That way mom wouldn't have to be the policeman here, but he'll have to be motivated to help himself if he doesn't want to be cut off and lose his free food and his free phone.
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Old 01-21-2018, 11:32 AM
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The problem is that it could give him a false sense of independence and encourage him to be content with that as long as he gets to live for free or for a nominal amount of rent in his parents' home. He may not think of the future (this can't last forever, as his parents could retire or die) as long as he can have fun in the short term, which is true that he didn't have much in his life. As long as he does not get to the point where they are kicking him out, he could also become less willing to follow the household rules, since he would not have an allowance or a phone to lose.

That being said, that could work if he's very serious or there is an incentive for him to want to become fully independent. For instance, his parents could give him the impression that they will want him out after two years (enough time to figure out something without becoming desperate). If he's doing really well and they want him to stay, they can just tell him that after a while, once there is a chance he'll go and sign a lease any time soon.
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Old 01-21-2018, 03:26 PM
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Your son sounds emotionally immature for his age, if he is still playing "gangster." If he's in a prison, he may have to participate with gang members inside, but I think you would know whether his actual mentality was moving away from all that. I liked everyone's answers about a contract, Food Stamps, etc. I found another possibility that helped my son begin to change his self-image. He got involved in a city-sponsored work program that prepared people of all ages to work in construction and/or the trades. The program also acted as a mentorship, with much reinforcement about being responsible on and off the job. He was experiencing success and wanted to join a union. Stopped hanging out with former friends, stopped drinking and drugging. Besides talking frankly with your son about expectations, why not find out if there is a structured program to help people prepare for decent-paying jobs in the area? The prospect of earning decent money can be very enticing, and mentorship outside the family domain could help both you and our son.


Quote:
Originally Posted by EleanorLRP View Post
Hi all,

I want to do all I can to help my son settle into a good, productive life once he is released. He has been incarcerated this time since 2012 and is due to be released this April. Prior to this he has been incarcerated many times, mostly brief stays. increasing to this six year sentence. My son is now 33.

The trouble with my son is he is so caught up in what I see as a fantasy world of gangs. He seems himself as a "gangster" when really they are all just playing games. He grew up in a very safe middle class suburb, indeed a gated community, and my husband and I always did our very best for him during his childhood - a top private school, tennis and piano lessons, private tutors, anything to help set him up and give him a head start.

However from his early teens on he got caught up in gang culture, joining local 'gangs' that emulated the urban gangs seen in films and music videos, but really spent their time doing graffiti and shoplifting in our local communities. He was expelled from school when he was sixteen and from there continued on the downward spiral. Shoplifting turned to robbery and mugging. Marijuana turned into some harder drugs which the robberies helped pay for. Fortunately he never really became an addict of hard drugs per se, his problems were not generally those of addiction (which I have seen in others). Instead, whilst some of his earlier 'gang' friends grew out of it over time, and some of them went back to school and lead productive lives now, my son is still clinging to it all.

When he is released, I need for him to get a job and set out on his own productive, lawful life. I will help him along the way. I want to help him clean up his image and outlook first, getting away from the ridiculous gang stuff. It sounds small, but talking to others I feel like it is the basic things that need to change before the big life changes can occur.

I want him to start speaking properly (not the barely legible Ebonics he puts on despite being white), pull his pants above his knees so he can walk properly (has not for about twenty years), and stop hanging around with the stragglers and losers left around. From there, I feel like he will be better situated to find a small local job, and perhaps seek some more education to increase his future life opportunities.

I am just wondering if anyone has similar experiences, and very grateful to hear your opinions on my approach. Do you think cleaning up the image and breaking away from the gang culture is the right approach to start with, taking things slowly and moving on up?

Very many thanks for reading,
Yours,
Eleanor P.
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Old 01-23-2018, 08:24 AM
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Sorry to be the one to speak the unpleasant truth out loud but... If your son is still into the “gang” culture and mentality, he’s on a self-chosen path to back inside the fence and he’ll be on that path until he figures out which way is up and starts to grow up. IMO you need to make priorities of yourself, your home and your family and that those priorities need to be more important than your son. What you said above tells me you’ve already given 150% and gone over the top trying to give him every break. The fashion in which he chose to express his gratitude was by becoming a self-styled tough guy and gangstawannabe. Until your boy does some maturing and grows out of the gangsta mentality, I doubt he’ll be able to stay outside the fence for long. Don’t let yourself, your family and your home be further damaged by his self-absorbed, self-destructive and horrendously immature antics. Some so-called “tough love” may be in order here. Best of luck with however it goes for you.
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Old 01-23-2018, 05:20 PM
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Maybe it's not the gang culture that really interests him at this point. He may actually find that, being older and having lost touch with that milieu, he no longer even fits in or likes it there. He may just rely on it because he doesn't know where to look for friends who have something in common with him.

There may be other ways except that, if he'll be on parole, he should make sure this is allowed (although even then, there may be some group activity there, such as a job search workshop, where he may see people like him, if briefly). Maybe there are some former gang members or inmates who are now role models, or at least law abiding. They may have some kind of support group for people like them, whether in real life or online, or they may happen to be part of other social circles, such as some workplaces, churches, AA and similar groups, volunteers or something resembling "alumni" associations for certain prisons or help/treatment programs, etc. Some such things may not even exist (nobody is particularly happy to be a "graduate" of certain institutions). but sometimes there is something. If he is lucky to actually find some former friends from the old days who are now on the straight and narrow, that could actually be a positive influence.
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Old 02-09-2018, 12:39 PM
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If he is continuing to...speak Gangsta: Kindly explain to him, your done with it. To please speak properly to you, your his mother. Tell him you will be done talking on the phone...if he insists on talking that way. Dont nag...just tell him. When he does it again, tell him "ok, well Im gona hang up now, talk to you next time" and hang up! Dont warn him...Hang Up. Then, turn your phone off for a while.
You will be surprised of the power you have... you are his Life Line. It won't take a call or two...he will change his gangsta tone with you.
Do the same with his pants...with visits.
And, do not let him bitch or holler at you for it...all you have to do is Hang Up.
Ive done this...it will work.
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