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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 05-05-2012, 09:43 PM
LoveYourself1st LoveYourself1st is offline
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Default What it is like for a child who has a loved one involved in crime

Growing up I knew my dad was a criminal. From a very young age I knew that was something you NEVER talked about. Not to your best friend, not to your teacher, not even to your family. My dad used to ALWAYS say to me "eyes and ears open, mouth shut."

In my father's case he was VERY powerful due to his profession. I was in third grade when he was charged with RICO. The story was covered often in the local paper and on the local news. It was the lead story often. My family was followed by FBI and reporters. I knew something was going on but no one EVER talked to me about it. The silence made me REALLY scared and confused. I remember turning on the TV and it just happened to be on the local news. I saw my dad's face on the TV but within a minute my mom turned off the TV. I tried to ask her why he was on TV but I was told to forget I saw anything.

In fourth grade he decided to take a plea deal for 5 years in the fed. I was not told he was going to prison until the night before he left. Again I was told to tell no one and to not talk about it.

I know it is really hard to explain to a child about criminal cases. But I will tell you from experience children DO know something is going on. Not talking about things does not make the problem go away. For a long time I HATED my parents for not telling me anything. Even as an adult (I am 30) I still feel like it would of been beneficial for my parents to of disclosed more information.
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  #2  
Old 05-05-2012, 11:59 PM
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I often think about this... me, our daughter is 2 and she's been going to visit her daddy at the prison since she was 3 months old. At this point, it's just normal. In a few years, she will get curious about why Daddy can't come home with us, why "so-and-so's" daddy lives with them, but her daddy doesn't. We have decided that we will NOT lie to her or expect her to lie. We will NOT hide things from her, etc.
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Old 05-06-2012, 12:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tommy's_girl View Post
I often think about this... me, our daughter is 2 and she's been going to visit her daddy at the prison since she was 3 months old. At this point, it's just normal. In a few years, she will get curious about why Daddy can't come home with us, why "so-and-so's" daddy lives with them, but her daddy doesn't. We have decided that we will NOT lie to her or expect her to lie. We will NOT hide things from her, etc.
As hard as it is, I really think you are doing right by your daughter to not lie or hide things.

I also wish my mother had encouraged me to write my father on a regular basis. I know you daughter is too young for that now, but depending on the length of sentence it may become important. Kids don't know when to pick up the pen and write. I think the parent has to help guide the child and encourage writing.
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Old 05-06-2012, 08:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tommy's_girl
I often think about this... me, our daughter is 2 and she's been going to visit her daddy at the prison since she was 3 months old. At this point, it's just normal. In a few years, she will get curious about why Daddy can't come home with us, why "so-and-so's" daddy lives with them, but her daddy doesn't. We have decided that we will NOT lie to her or expect her to lie. We will NOT hide things from her, etc.
my daughter is 16 months and we've decided not to lie either..but daddy wants to me the one to sit down with her one on one and have a talk once she starts asking questions...it really upsets me that my brother in law lies to my niece :/ he just says "uncles at work" and it annoys her I think (she's 4)
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Old 05-06-2012, 11:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LoveYourself1st
Growing up I knew my dad was a criminal. From a very young age I knew that was something you NEVER talked about. Not to your best friend, not to your teacher, not even to your family. My dad used to ALWAYS say to me "eyes and ears open, mouth shut."

In my father's case he was VERY powerful due to his profession. I was in third grade when he was charged with RICO. The story was covered often in the local paper and on the local news. It was the lead story often. My family was followed by FBI and reporters. I knew something was going on but no one EVER talked to me about it. The silence made me REALLY scared and confused. I remember turning on the TV and it just happened to be on the local news. I saw my dad's face on the TV but within a minute my mom turned off the TV. I tried to ask her why he was on TV but I was told to forget I saw anything.

In fourth grade he decided to take a plea deal for 5 years in the fed. I was not told he was going to prison until the night before he left. Again I was told to tell no one and to not talk about it.

I know it is really hard to explain to a child about criminal cases. But I will tell you from experience children DO know something is going on. Not talking about things does not make the problem go away. For a long time I HATED my parents for not telling me anything. Even as an adult (I am 30) I still feel like it would of been beneficial for my parents to of disclosed more information.
I'm raising my niece along with my daughter and soon to be another baby. I tell my niece anything she wants to know. Of course I change my words so its easier for her to understand but I truly believe children deserve to know the truth. She understands her moms situation, and she also understands her mother loves her very much but she made decisions that have put her in the situation she's in. Some ppl say children can't have "normal" childhoods if their parents are incarcerated, I however don't believe that to be true. My niece is a happy carefree child who understands her situation is different but that doesn't mean its bad. I think parents should definitely explain these things to children, because if you don't it leaves their mind wandering and thinking the worst.
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Old 05-06-2012, 10:58 PM
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my kids are well aware ,the youngest were 9 when he went in. i never tried to hide it .i think its important to know that this was a mistake he made in real life this is what happens so they dont make the same mistakes.
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Old 05-07-2012, 12:25 AM
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I know someone who's daughter (4 years old) comes to visit her dad, so she knows full well that he's in prison. But when it comes to what the school knows, her dad is "in the military" or something of the like... I don't know, it just seems wrong to lie about it, and teach the kid that it's something to be ashamed of, and also, to perpetuate the lie...
I believe that if people truly know what's going on, they have more of an understanding of why the child may behave differently, or haven't grieved properly (because of being confused with the lieing) and if the child doesn't behave differently, then just having a support system is good for them too, people who love them.
There are also books in the library that talk about having a parent in prison too. One I have read is called "My Daddy Does Good Things Too."
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  #8  
Old 05-08-2012, 11:34 PM
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I'm going to look up that book "My daddy does good things too."

It is really nice to see people being honest with their kids.
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Old 05-09-2012, 12:54 AM
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Thank you for sharing your story. I can relate in a way. I was lied to about my fathers cause of death until age 10. Its better to tell children the truth.
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Old 05-17-2012, 03:55 PM
savienu savienu is offline
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I am grateful for this thread. I told my son that Daddy was sick and had to go away for awhile. It was important to me not to lie, but to tell things to him in an age-appropriate manner. Does this sound okay to everyone here, or is this still lying to him?
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Old 05-21-2012, 02:14 PM
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I have a son who is now 22yrs old, his dad went to prison when he (my son) was 4yrs. There were some tough decisions to be made and there has been no contact b/w father and son. I also believe in the truth being told even if the truths are hard.. Now my son is curious about his dad (whom is being released in 3 yrs after serving 20 yrs). Hard questions are being asked now, he is ready and I summon deep for the courage (and find it) to speak the truth with compassion, love and grace...
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Old 05-21-2012, 07:45 PM
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I'm 15 and my older brother is in prison. For a LONG time I didn't know who he really was, I talked to him but not often, and the first time I saw him was when I was 8 years old when my mom took me to visit. The first time he'd seen me since I was 1 month old. I now visit regularly with our dad.
But I do agree, parents shouldn't lie to their children about where their LO is. I wish I had known where he was, like I knew he was in prison but never knew why and just assumed for awhile until my brother told me. I write my bro when I can not often because I'm in high school and am busy with all that but I do write him in school a lot lol.
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