child, having an incarcerated parent can be scary, emotionally- draining, and
cause anxiety and feelings of uncertainty. These feelings and more can surface
regardless of whether the child lived with an incarcerated parent or not. It is
hard if the child suffered abuse from the incarcerated parent, especially if
they were using alcohol or drugs. A child could feel guilty about physical or
verbal abuse, believe that they caused the incarceration of their parent(s), or
did not do enough to help the parent with their drug or alcohol abuse. A child
may also feel relief that the abusive parent is no longer present to abuse
them. The protection of children is imperative and very much so when they deal
with one or both parents being locked up. This article will discuss 10 Ways
To Help And Protect A Child With A Parent In Prison.
Some children can grow up to become co-dependent when the child/parent
roles are in reverse, and the child must unfairly take on adult
responsibilities due to living in a toxic or dysfunctional household when their
parent uses drugs or alcohol. This situation can be exhausting if the
responsible parent is in prison, and the child remains with an abusive or
drug-addicted parent or caregiver. Situations like these can adversely affect a
child’s emotional, mental, physical, and economic well-being and health.
MENTAL, PHYSICAL, ECONOMIC,
children, having fathers or mothers in prison can lead to drastic declines in
their lives. The effects can vary from child to child and depend on how close a
child is with the incarcerated parent. It can feel as though a part of their
lives is gone away from them. It could lead to overthinking, depression,
self-loathing, and anger outbursts, leaving them susceptible to many other issues.
parent is in prison, and the children stay with an irresponsible person, it can
have mental and emotional effects. Some
effects may include mental disorders, emotional downsides, and physical illness
due to neglect or abuse. Such children would lack proper care and monitoring.
They could feel alone, and this can lead to many other things.
situation could lead to forced single fatherhood or motherhood, depending on
which parent is in prison. Some parents are not good at parenting. This
scenario could affect the child negatively. The only bright side to this is
that they do not get abused by that parent anymore if they stay with loving,
responsible, and stable caretakers.
Image Source: Pixabay
a parent in prison could also lead to a decline in the family’s financial
status if the incarcerated parent was the breadwinner. Even in cases where the
parent in prison was not the breadwinner, expenses could rise. The person in
charge or caregiver could become reckless with spending, and this could impact
finances. The family’s income would reduce where necessities become
unaffordable. Then, they would not be able to live a decent quality of life.
may set in gradually. This situation can worsen the child's emotional, mental,
and physical health and negatively affect their education and schoolwork. In
cases like this, it is not unusual to see social services in action. At this
point, they may decide to take the children to child protective services, and
they may end up in foster care. This overall experience may stick with them forever
and affect their adulthood. Kids with such emotional trauma are likely to
develop behavioral problems. They may grow up to become violent with criminal
tendencies and might end up in prison too.
WAYS TO HELP AND
PROTECT KIDS WITH INCARCERATED PARENTS
with a parent in prison need all the help, care, and attention they can get.
They need help coping with having an incarcerated parent, and they should get
as much support and encouragement as possible. Here are 10 ways they can be
helped and protected:
1) First off, you would want to
build a personal relationship with the child. Try getting to know the child and
let them know you too. If you are not the other parent, you may be their
caretaker, (non) custodial guardian, or mentor. Give them someone to look up to
and be a positive role model. This act would help shine a bit of light in their
life, knowing they can connect and talk with someone. Be aware that this
process might not be easy. The child might not be trusting. When you have
established a relationship with the child, you should develop the relationship.
Make conscious efforts to sustain the relationship. Let them know they can
confide in you.
Image Source: Pexels
2) You can help them maintain
their relationship with the incarcerated parent if abuse is not a factor
between them and their incarcerated parent. If not, help them understand that
having a parent in prison is not the end of their relationship. Come up with
simple and cost-effective ways to foster the relationship. Sometimes, child
protective services may intervene in child abuse allegations by any parent,
caretaker, or non-custodial guardian. Foster care or adoption may become
options if they determine that a child is at risk or suffers from abuse or
neglect. It is best to make sure that a child is protected, has stability, and
is loved and nurtured and not in harm's way by anyone.
3) Ensure their safety,
wellness, and nutrition. Child-proof your home to prevent injuries. Do not
trust them with strangers and irresponsible family and friends. Stay on top of
yearly physicals, check-ups, and primary care doctor’s appointments if they
become ill. Some kids are already living at or below the poverty level without
having incarcerated parents. So, if one parent or both end up in prison, it can
jeopardize a child’s living situation and circumstances. Some caretakers,
guardians, and non-custodial parents may need government help, such as food
stamps and medical coverage, to help care for the child(ren) of incarcerated
parents and ensure they are receiving good nutrition.
4) Keep their educational and
recreational goals on point. Keep in touch with their teachers and school
administration to make them aware of any issues that affect the child.
Sometimes, children may act out when they are dealing with issues that they
have no control over. Monitor their behavioral patterns to learn if additional
help and intervention is necessary. Help the child with homework and recruit
extra help or tutors, if needed. Engage in activities and recreation you enjoy
together. Do not let them feel alone.
Image Source: Pexels
5) Provide emotional and mental
assistance to them. When you notice that the kids are beginning to show
different behavioral patterns or outbursts, discuss with them getting
professional help or therapy. Through support groups, help them meet other kids
in the same or similar situations. They will know they are not alone and would
find it easier to open up about their feelings. This measure would give them a
sense of reassurance.
6) Guide them through the decision-making
processes and help them develop good judgment. Be there with them and for them
on important days and events. Let them feel loved and try to fill the void of
the incarcerated parent. Do not hesitate to seek outside help from people,
support groups, and trusted agencies and resources.
7) Enlighten them about the
criminal justice system, the agencies, and the institutions under it in age-appropriate
manners. Help them understand why they have a parent in prison and come to
terms with it. Help them understand the rules and processes in place.
8) Get familiar with the prison
visitation process so you can prepare the kids ahead. Let them know what to
expect. They could have high expectations and high emotions before the visit.
Empathize with them and let them know the feeling is normal. Help them not miss
visits and be their backbone before and after visitation.
9) Provide as much assistance
and guidance as you can. Ensure that education, continued learning, and
financial knowledge are not lacking. You can give the child informative books
to read. Teach them about saving and investing money. Buy them things using positive reinforcement and give them some stipends to buy for themselves if they go shopping with you.
10) When the time comes, help them prepare for the
parent’s re-entry into their lives. Having an incarcerated parent return home
to the kids might be difficult and strange to them. Help them adjust if
they will not be living with the released parent. If you are a parent, who is
not in prison, be open to co-parenting. If you are a caregiver, remain in their
lives and check on them regularly.
Image Source: Pixabay
can be extremely stressful for a child who has a parent to go to prison. Several
long-term effects can negatively affect a child. These effects include
emotional, mental, physical, and financial implications. It is imperative to
ensure that children with incarcerated parents end up in stable households.
This measure can allow them to receive proper nutrition, education, medical
care, guidance, and other things to ensure their well-being.
Keeping children abreast of what it means to have an incarcerated parent is important by
giving them knowledge of the criminal justice system and allowing them to visit
their incarcerated parent, if possible. Getting the necessary additional help
when they have issues that you are unsure of how to handle, like counseling or
therapy, is imperative. Preparing them for any re-entry of their incarcerated
parent into their lives can help them adjust as well.
For more information on children
with incarcerated parents, click the links, below:
(Disclaimer: Affiliate Advertising. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.)
Empowering Children of
Incarcerated Parents By Stacey Burgess, Tonia Caselman, and Jennifer Carsey
From Prison: A Hands-on Guide for Incarcerated Parents By Mr. James M. Birney
Apart, Close in Heart: Being a Family when a Loved One is Incarcerated By Becky