Last Updated on June 3, 2022 by Anne-Sophie Reinhardt
You know how devastating and emotional it can be for the whole family, the single mom and her child left behind, when the father is in jail. It can be difficult for the children and overwhelming for those who are left to care for them.
It is possible to work longer hours, move residences, make greater sacrifices and feel anger, hurt, or resentment. While you may not wish to leave the family, you still want to be there for your children. They need the love and support of their parents, even if they are behind bars. Children want to feel loved and supported by their parents.
Although it may be difficult to build a positive, meaningful relationship between your children’s parents and their inmates, it is possible. Your efforts can encourage a supportive relationship that will benefit everyone in the family. It may not be possible in all cases, children desire to maintain contact with their parents while in prison. These steps can help you to build that bridge.
Single Mom should Let the Father in Jail Know About Their Kids’ Childhood Milestones
Sharing your children’s accomplishments is important, so he/she would know what to celebrate. It’s also a good way to keep them informed of how much their child has grown. This would make the parent feel more connected to their children even if they’re away.
Respect The Incarcerated Parent
It doesn’t matter what your feelings are about the parent in prison, it is best to behave and speak respectfully before the children. Insulting or criticizing a parent will only increase their stress and confusion. Instead of condemning the parent’s actions, be honest about what they did wrong and how they are now dealing with the consequences. This example will reinforce the importance of making good decisions.
Single Mom should Not Forbid The Father in Jail Contacts With Their Children
Allow the children to speak with their father in jail whenever the single mom able to accept a call. You can help your children plan by deciding one topic to discuss before you call. This will ensure that they don’t get bogged down or go off-topic. Encourage and support your children to write letters and draw pictures. These are so important for the parents in prison. It’s possible to send photos. Check with the prison for details.
Respect The Children’s Feelings
It means that you are open with your children about the whereabouts of their parent. It’s not safe to tell your children that their parent are on a business trip or in hospital. They could find the truth through a neighbor, newspaper article, or friend. They could become very upset and distrustful of you. It doesn’t matter how detailed you go. Explain to the children that their parents have made mistakes and they are now responsible for them. Encourage children to openly discuss their feelings and let them know that they are allowed to feel what they want. It is not their fault that Mom and Dad are in prison. It doesn’t matter if the parent is guilty of something, but it does not mean that they aren’t caring about the family.
Single Mom should Allow The Child To See His/Her Father in Jail
You can take the child to a prison visit if they are interested. Prepare the children for what life in prison will be like by getting security clearance, visiting a visiting room and seeing their parents in prison clothes. You might also help your children brainstorm topics to discuss. Be ready to support them in the difficult time of saying goodbye to their parent. Encourage them to share their feelings. Consider driving with relatives of prisoners. You can save money by traveling together and meeting other people who share your experiences and concerns.
Explore Programs Provided By The Prison For Relationship-Building
Look into programs that assist prisoners in building relationships with their children. Parents can send their children tape recordings of themselves reading a book to prison. Special camps are available in some prisons where children can come to prison with their parents for a day of activities. Ask the prison chaplain or prison officials to learn about the available programs and encourage parents and children to participate.
Plan Ahead, Think About The Life Your Family Will Have After The Other Parent Gets Released
Both of you will feel more confident about the future if you plan ahead. Talk about the educational, vocational, or pre-release classes that are available in prison. Encourage the prisoner or another group that offers programs in that prison to inquire about Prison Fellowship. The whole family will need to adjust when the parent is released from prison. It will make it easier to adjust if the whole family can agree on goals and work together on how to achieve them.
Take Care of Yourself
Because the children you care for are dependent on your physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health, it is important to take good care of yourself. Get enough rest and exercise to keep you healthy. Keep in touch with caring, positive friends who will support you.
Don’t Forget That You are Not Alone
It may seem like you are doing it alone at times. There are many wonderful resources and programs that can help you provide for your children’s needs. Research your local churches and civic organizations to see if they offer after-school programs for children and teens. You should look for mentoring programs that can pair your child up with a gay adult to coach and be a friend. Find out which local organizations (hospitals and community colleges, public hospitals, public health services, faith-based groups) offer parenting classes. These people are able to understand your needs and will support you and your incarcerated parent to raise happy, healthy children.