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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 08-10-2012, 01:07 PM
TheUnknown TheUnknown is offline
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Default How to prepare kids for a parent going to prison?

I will be sentenced on August 17th. I have two small kids ( 5 yr old Girl and 3 yr old boy) and need some advice on how to tell them I will be gone for a little while. I'm at a complete loss and it's killing me that I have to have this talk with them. PLEASE HELP!!!
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Old 08-10-2012, 01:16 PM
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In 2006 I went to prison. I had known that this was coming for several years. I will tell you that my two sons were 12 and 5 when I talked to them. I went into detail with my older one and explained to him that I had to do this because what I had done was wrong. When talking to my then five year old, I told him that I was going to be put into time out for "being bad". By time I actually went, they were much older but they understood where I was going and why.

It was not an easy conversation but I did not want anyone saying anything around them that they did not already know about. I wanted them to hear the truth from me and my silent prayer was that any anger issues that would come up would do so before my incarceration.

I am glad that I had that conversation with them. It was not easy for them to have me gone, but it was easier because of their understanding of the situation. There were no surprises in store for them, occasionally someone would assume that they did not understand and would try to talk circles around them and my oldest was usually the first to say, "Mom is in prison for doing what she should not have, don't act like we don't know what she is there for, we do."

My son Christopher, is now almost 21 years old and he is doing very well. Occasionally we do talk about my incarceration and he has told me more than once that he appreciated the honesty because it put him in the position to be in the know and not feel that there was some secret being hidden from him.

I hope this helps some.
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Old 08-10-2012, 01:21 PM
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I understand your concern completely. There is no easy way to tell your children you will be leaving them. My childrens father just recently turned himself in a few months ago. Our children are older and have a better understanding of what is going on, but still struggle with his absence. For starters be sure to tell them only what their minds are able to handle. Instead of using days, months, years ect.. we use events for instance two birthdays. Let them know you will write, call, and visit if that's an option you find comforting. Be strong and follow through on the small things and most importantly focus on the positive at all time.
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Old 08-10-2012, 01:22 PM
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You don't have to explain to them much because they are children but try to tell them that you are going to be gone for a while to make yourself better so when you come back you can be the best mommy/daddy you can be. Tell them you know how much they will miss you and that you didn't want to do this but it is something you must do and no matter how much they miss and love you you will always be there for them even though you can't physically be there. You have to reassure them that it isn't their fault, that you love them and will miss them more than anything. Kids tend to think and take guilt for things that go wrong. Tell them that whatever is on their mind they can write (with help) and have mommy/daddy send to you. And im not sure if you are religious but it might be a good idea to teach them a little prayer, make one up so when they feel lonely or scared they can recite it and know that you helped them make it. God Bless & Best of Luck.
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Old 08-10-2012, 05:46 PM
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I saw a book advertised the other day actually... It's called "the night dad went to jail". That might help you if your kids are young.
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Old 08-10-2012, 07:00 PM
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THANK YOU EVERYONE for all your suggestions.
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Old 08-10-2012, 08:26 PM
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As a counselor, I heavily encourage you to not be tempted to wait until the last minute. Children need time to adjust, and as the first person mentioned, will lessen many alternative difficulties, including abandonment, dishonesty, gossip, feeling unsupported, etc. It's a tough situation, it saddens my heart to see my friend in prison and separated from his growing children. But children are resilient! They can incorporate this into their life lessons, and be stronger because of it. Prayers for you all!
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Old 08-11-2012, 05:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by supportafriend
As a counselor, I heavily encourage you to not be tempted to wait until the last minute. Children need time to adjust, and as the first person mentioned, will lessen many alternative difficulties, including abandonment, dishonesty, gossip, feeling unsupported, etc. It's a tough situation, it saddens my heart to see my friend in prison and separated from his growing children. But children are resilient! They can incorporate this into their life lessons, and be stronger because of it. Prayers for you all!

Thank you for this advice. I'm looking at anywhere from 10 months in county jail up to 40 months in State Prison. We are hoping for the county time so them I could get work release and still see them everyday I work.
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