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  #1  
Old 11-04-2018, 04:50 PM
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My son went into the system when he was 22. He had only been living with me for 8 months before being arrested as he was on probation out of another state where he had finished high school. So basically, he hadn't lived with me since he was 16. He visited on and off. So all that time, he was still a child to me.

Since he will be 29 when he gets out next spring, he is an adult. He has had some positive mentors in prison, for which I am grateful. He will be drug free on the outside for the first time since he was 12. But, he will have been in prison and missed out on all those things that we each go through in becoming and independent adult.

He will be living with me and we will have a rental agreement for house cleaning and maintenance at 20 hours per month and cash for half the utilities. I will provide him with a computer. I will buy a used car for which he will get a loan and pay me back. He will be responsible for his own food, health care, clothing, gas, insurance, cell phone.

My BIG QUESTION is how do I treat him as an adult? It is a sudden change from child to prison to 29 year old man. What do I need to be careful of? How do I know the difference between being a mom and telling him what to do vs letting him figure it out for himself when he lacks the experiences of everything from smart phones to streaming TV to filing income taxes.

I am presuming the parole department will set some rules, like no alcohol, curfew and others that will simply be annoying but part of the system. So hopefully, I won't have to police him going to work and coming home much for the first year. But, if anyone has suggestions and experiences - please start sharing them.

I am posting this here because I am hoping there are some of you who have been in my son's place and can tell me what is most annoying and what is most helpful.

Last edited by patchouli; 11-04-2018 at 06:42 PM.. Reason: Merged threads; merged duplicate posts & removed duplicate text only
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Old 11-04-2018, 04:58 PM
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Default How to treat them as adults when they grow up in prison?

Wow! Interesting post. Following.

My son went to prison at 28, he is now 33 and will be released when he is almost 36. He will come to live with us (Mom and Dad). We have been putting back money to get him restarted.

We have not discussed rent/paying us, etc., so am interested to see what other parents are doing.
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Old 11-04-2018, 05:40 PM
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There will be lots of parole rules, and restrictions. You will be able to support him during this difficult time by reinforcing the importance of complying with everything his PO demands from him.

He is an adult now, and has been in an environment where everyone has to grow up fast. My advice is to allow him enough freedom to make his own way in society, but at the same time being watchful for problems that could set him back on the road to prison.
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Old 11-04-2018, 06:25 PM
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My boyfriend has been in the system since he was 16 yrs old and he didn't grow up I think he thinks that someone owes him something but that's what they all do when there in there all the time I told him I don't not owe him anything he's lucky if I decide to do something for him it might be different for you because it's your son and not your significant other he should be fine as long as he is on the right track
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Old 11-04-2018, 06:30 PM
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Yes, lots of parole rules. If addiction is an issue, he needs to be vigilant about it, and attend meetings or other addiction related counseling. You need to hit Al Anon or something so that you can talk with other loved ones of addicts, determine what’s enabling, and what’s supportive, and do some serious self care around the issue because it is always going to be an issue whether he’s using or not.

Encourage adult learning around things like taxes, smart phones, establishing and keeping good credit. Community colleges and other adult Ed opportunities are out there if you start searching.

Part of it is him establishing what’s important to him. If he’s been working out, he needs to continue, and a community center may have good resources for weight lifting, running groups, etc. These can also be good opportunities to meet other adults with similar interests. Establishing achievable short and long term goals is very important, as is establishing a routine.

The other big thing is talking with him about what he wants to do, how he wants to handle when things are bad for him. The honeymoon of getting out will pass and he’ll look around at his peers and see them further along in terms of career and family than he is. The temptation to use again will be there. Offending is familiar to him, the desire to be in prison, a system he knows and has mastered, will be there. How is he going to handle this? Is he willing to talk with you? What resources are available locally to help him? Is he going to go to counseling?

It is a big transition with a huge learning curve that won’t be mastered the moment he’s released from prison. You obviously already know this, but does he?
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Old 11-06-2018, 06:48 AM
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I share your concerns. My current plan for my son is I will help with a roof over his head, food, clothes, maybe a cheap prepaid cell. I have told him I will provide rides to work or use of a car initially....depending on my gut instincts. If he can show he is saving he has no rent to stay here. I will not buy a car, fancy cell phone, etc. His first many checks will go to getting his own car. He is an adult and I cannot control him. I can only control my reaction and my home. So it is totally up to him if he is allowed to stay here up to a year. He knows my expectations and I tell him I will have no problem throwing his ass out. He survived prison, he will survive life. I have been an enabler, but I donít want to disrespect my son by not allowing him to be a man. And I pray that God shows me the proper way to support and not enable. Please keep us updated, you will be going through this before me. Good luck and enjoy your time with your son!
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Old 11-06-2018, 05:25 PM
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So hard - isn't it?

Our son will have parole, probably a GPS anklet and has 3 years of mandatory supervised release. We live in the country where if there is no car, there is no way to get anyway to get to work. We will help our son purchase a car - he needs a license first lol.

As to enabling - yep something I'm super good at. I have to learn to detach a little more.
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Old 11-09-2018, 11:25 AM
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I am one year past your position, my son was released last December 23. I'm pleased to report, things are going pretty well, actually VERY well. He's 24 and had been incarcerated 5 years. Finding a job that pays enough was a huge issue. No matter how society advances, felons are the last hired, first fired. Also $10 an hour ( or less!) jobs are available all day, but jobs that would enable a person to live independently are much harder to find. He lived with us four months before he could move out ( actually with help on deposits etc.). From December to now he's held 5 jobs, but the latest is a keeper. I'd suggest a grace period on the bills so he won't feel overwhelmed when the financial reality hits. Also I do warn everyone about the common idea newly released people have that they have to "make up for lost time", meaning women, socializing, etc. That was our only bone of contention with him, and we hung tough. I told him at the jump that I had investigated a local transitional shelter, and if he couldn't abide by our rules, we would take him there with no hard feelings ( actually it would have been devastating but we said it). Also it was an adjustment to see how people his age had grown up and started lives. At first his interest was in much younger women ( too young) because that's where he left the world, but that part changed after some hard conversation. The only other thing I suggest, is giving him some space. After 5 years of visiting across the little table, I wanted to hold and smother him constantly but he needed some time to just sit in his room and breathe. I wish you luck and hope you and your son end up as happy as we are.
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Old 11-09-2018, 12:44 PM
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I am one year past your position, my son was released last December 23. I'm pleased to report, things are going pretty well, actually VERY well. He's 24 and had been incarcerated 5 years. Finding a job that pays enough was a huge issue. No matter how society advances, felons are the last hired, first fired. Also $10 an hour ( or less!) jobs are available all day, but jobs that would enable a person to live independently are much harder to find. He lived with us four months before he could move out ( actually with help on deposits etc.). From December to now he's held 5 jobs, but the latest is a keeper. I'd suggest a grace period on the bills so he won't feel overwhelmed when the financial reality hits. Also I do warn everyone about the common idea newly released people have that they have to "make up for lost time", meaning women, socializing, etc. That was our only bone of contention with him, and we hung tough. I told him at the jump that I had investigated a local transitional shelter, and if he couldn't abide by our rules, we would take him there with no hard feelings ( actually it would have been devastating but we said it). Also it was an adjustment to see how people his age had grown up and started lives. At first his interest was in much younger women ( too young) because that's where he left the world, but that part changed after some hard conversation. The only other thing I suggest, is giving him some space. After 5 years of visiting across the little table, I wanted to hold and smother him constantly but he needed some time to just sit in his room and breathe. I wish you luck and hope you and your son end up as happy as we are.
This is true of a great many men - they seem to emotionally stall at the point of incarceration, including when it comes to the women or men they find attractive. It takes a while for their emotional and sexual maturity to catch up, and this can be a real problem for people who went away as minors. Those guys need to be made aware of sex offender laws and how easy it can be for them to go back to prison if they express that interest instead of allowing their sexual interest to grow to more age appropriate mates.

Youíll even see this in the mode of dress initially - what they think as cool and the priority of their dress is stuck at the point that they went to prison. It takes a while for them to catch up with current fashion, fashion appropriate for their age, and the need to put say a pair of work boots ahead of the buying needs of a pair of Jordanís. Skinny jeans on men will appear laughable to men who went inside before they came into fashion.

Anyway, if you remember that their sexual identity and interests donít grow in prison any more than their fashion sense, you can understand it a bit, and maybe avoid some problems.
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Old 11-09-2018, 01:26 PM
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My BIG QUESTION is how do I treat him as an adult? It is a sudden change from child to prison to 29 year old man.

Sorry Liz, but 22 year old men are adults, not children. Treat him the same way you did 7 years ago when he was an adult.


I thought this might be more about those unfortunate children that literally are kids and tried as adults.
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Old 11-11-2018, 05:03 PM
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Many good comments and advice. Glad to see some who have already been through this post. I hope more post. I am really unsure as to when it is right to offer and when I should wait for him to ask. Lack of real world knowledge - will he even know what to ask or that he needs to know something?

Yourself's skinny jeans comment made me laugh, because that was one thing my son said he was not going to wear. He doesn't want his mom taking him clothes shopping because that would be too weird. I hope he can find a guy friend to tell him what current fashion is. I also know his clothing from before won't fit him as he has gone from 160 to 200 lbs - all muscle.

My son has always been interested in college. He did community classes while in and has about 38 credits. I told him he really will need to meet with a counselor at our community college as well as fill out the federal financial aid form. I can't pay for college and he is clear on that. We have had long talks on building credit and some steps I have taken to start that process. (Discover advertises that you add a card in someone's name they will report it on their credit report as well as yours.) I live in a rural county, the largest town is 44k and we survive only because we are adjacent to a military post. Finding a job will not be easy for him.

I am concerned about his social life. How he will meet what kind of people. Since he hung out with other addicts, he doesn't have any friends locally. There are some who have been family friends, but those kids his age now have wives and children, so it will be quite different of him. i know it is different for me being divorced while all my friends are married and busy being grandma on a regular basis.

In regards to co-dependency, I have been through that multiple times. My ex-husband (the kids' father) is an alcoholic and we did the inpatient and outpatient treatment before divorce in 1998. My former boss, another alcoholic and treatment that didn't make a dent in his choices to the point i followed through and quit and his wife of 40 years divorced him. Then the behavioral issues of my son as a teen and the mental health and behavioral counseling and classes for that. I don't know what my son's choices will be in regards to treatment/support when he gets out. I do know that the counseling provided by the county before he was arrested was simply another pipeline for drugs and partying, to include the counselor. That left both of us a bit jaded on that front for support.

I don't agree that a 22 year is an adult. Not when they became an addict at age 12. The brain and emotions don't progress normally under the influence. The current thought and publications I read do not believe that the brain matures until the mid-20s, which I suspect is true based on my experiences and exposure to my daughter's many friends when she was in her early 20s. (She is 5 years older than her brother.) I also think it's true that girls mature faster than boys, as a generality. Setting aside all of the foregoing, my son when he moved in with me was not an adult. He was still approaching life as a teenager, expecting mom will feed and clothe him and help him do everything. The person he is now is much different, has grown up, does not expect a handout, is thankful for what I do provide, and very much wants a home with a wife and kids in his future.
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Old 11-11-2018, 06:35 PM
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The challenges he will be facing as an adult ex prisoner will be handled much more effectively by a grown man rather than by a large child. What already happened is in the past, so his urgent business is how he deals with the present and the future. Trying to insulate him from the realities of life in America could backfire.
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Old 11-11-2018, 11:31 PM
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I so understand what your concerns are & how hard it is to walk the fine line between mothering & smothering. Georgiagrama has some excellent advice. My son has been out since Feb & we live in different states but he still has to "remind" me when I get too advising. I do remember saying when he was home from college & going his merry way that our house was home, not the Holiday Inn & if he wanted a place to stay where he could come & go at all hours, then make a reservation there.
It's important to have basic respectful expectations & boundaries. Maybe you could both sit down & make some agreement on what you both need & are flexible on. Coming from incarceration where everything is decided for you, freedom can be a wild ride for some people. He needs to know that your house rules come from a place of love & not control.
No matter how much we love our kids, we owe it to them to keep them grounded in reality. After all, the world will teach them what happens if they don't follow rules & it will be much worse than anything you could do to him. Hang in there & try looking at him as a person 1st & your son 2nd. How would someone else be made to understand things? That helped me learn to work with my son to ease back into life outside the gates.
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Old 11-19-2018, 07:25 AM
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Lizzie, I understand your comment about not being an adult at 22 when they became an addict at 14. There are so many bits of knowledge we take for granted, your son has missed. Example: getting the oil changed in a car. When, how much to pay?, buying insurance, how to go on line and compare. How much does he tip a barber? How does gps work? How do I get a refund in a store? The relationship between turning up the heat and the level of the bill? How often should I wash my clothes? When a kid is dysfunctional, they miss a lot of parenting. And it's o.k. to offer and suggest- once. Follow-up is up to him. Also with his interest in fitness, maybe he can work at the local gym? As a starting point it would be a place to network with others his age. I can't wait to hear how it turns out!
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Old 12-12-2018, 07:55 AM
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My boyfriend has been in the system since he was 16 yrs old and he didn't grow up I think he thinks that someone owes him something but that's what they all do when there in there all the time I told him I don't not owe him anything he's lucky if I decide to do something for him it might be different for you because it's your son and not your significant other he should be fine as long as he is on the right track
Good for you Amber for drawing a line in the sand and not letting him treat you with disrespectfully. I agree that it is probably different dealing with a child vs. dealing with a significant other, but I think the we don't "owe" and consider yourself "lucky" if we choose to send something applies to both.

I have met other moms whose sons do expect them to still take care of their needs and act like they are owed support from mom. I encourage Moms to say no when their kids they are using drugs or gambling, as refusing to send more money, especially when you are raising the grandkids, is the sensible answer. Over the past 5 years, I have heard the same story in these situations - Mom says no more money and her adult son has temper tantrums, gets angry and is mean. He calls mom making demands and yelling at mom. My response to those moms was hang up and send their sons a letter saying they love their sons but such behavior is no longer acceptable. I try to emphasize how important it is to keep telling their children that they love and care about them and to keep communicating with their child concentrating on that fact but to make it clear they will not support their addictions and they will not accept phone calls if their child was using the phone to harangue them. My suggestion was to tell their sons that until they calmed down that communicating by letters would be best. Frequently, these moms were borrowing money, going into debt on credit cards, and working overtime or an extra job, trying to meet their adult child's demands (often while supporting their grandchildren from that child). Dollars don't represent love; dollars don't negate the guilt we feel as parents; dollars won't fix our child - but somewhere along the line we believed that dollars would solve it all.

I admit that my son never did the above to me, nor do I think it would occur to him to do so. He had other games/manipulations (every addict does). I did make it clear to him after the first year - don't ask me for money. I will send you a certain amount each month. If you need something extra (ex. to buy new sneakers) then you need to tell me in advance what, why, how much and I will see what I can do. Ask me, and I won't send anything. He never asked again about when or how much I would be sending and he always said thank you.

I have been lucky in the aspect that when my son was using and I realized it because the stories became outrageous - his clothes were all stolen from the laundry; he was fake wrestling and fell into someone's TV and broke it so he had to replace it - I cut him off and he actually knew that me doing so was sensible. He did not play the he would get beat up card or other emotional blackmail. (Yeah, I was naive and didn't realize how easy it was to get drugs in prison the first year. and yes, he did get beat up.) All of that helped provide reasons for him to quit and mom not sending money gave the dealers a reason not to risk credit on him.

Throughout this process, my son has always said thank you and been grateful for what he did receive. He seems cognizant that it takes a lot out of me to do visits and the financial burden. The first few years he kept saying he was going to pay me back. I said forget it - you can't afford to pay me back when you get out. When the time comes, it is his job as a man to help mom the same way mom has been there for him the past 10 years and will continue to be there as he restarts life and gets situated as a man in the real world. It is a not a dollar for dollar exchange; it is a mother and son exchange as eventually I will be old and it will be his turn to help mom.

It is interesting how aware of costs he is for everything he buys or receives in a securepak. That cup of coffee that is expensive as an inmate costing him 4x that amount at Starbucks will be an adjustment. I think he will suffer from "sticker" shock when he gets out. I have been specific with him on what it will cost for utilities and how many hours of work per month he will need to do around the house to pay for his "rent".

My goal is to treat him as an adult in regards to rent, utilities, responsibilities. I haven't quite figured out house rules beyond the common courtesies such as letting me know he will be working late so don't hold dinner, cleaning up after himself, and those types of things. I am presuming that parole will include curfews and no alcohol and similar rules. Probation on his felony plea agreement out of WI did. I would rather not have to make them as I don't want to micromanage his life.
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Old 01-15-2019, 06:15 PM
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Lizlizzie2, I am completely with you on the fact that addiction changes people so they are not adults just because they’ve been on earth a certain amount of time. My incarcerated son is not nearly as mature or responsible as his two younger siblings and has not been ever since he started using at age 13. Science tells us that male brains don’t stop developing until 25 or 26, and then our addict kids have the additional problem of brain trauma from the drug use that has delayed their development. Add in years of being locked up, and they’re going to have a lot to learn when they get out.

My husband and I are not allowing our son to live with us when he gets out because stress exacerbates my health issues, but we are going to help him with rent for a number of months until he’s able to save some money. We’re hoping to be able to sit down with him and list his financial priorities (rent and utilities first of course) and help him create a budget.

I’m so glad to hear these other ideas that people are listing, like helping him join a gym, making sure we don’t enable, buying insurance, keeping up with his prescriptions, and even finding someone to take him clothes shopping. Thank you for asking these questions.

I have to admit that right now I feel like it’s the calm before the storm. We know where he is, we don’t think he’s using, he doesn’t have the drama of social media, and we don’t think he’s suicidal at the moment. Now I’m terrified about what might happen when he gets out. I really hope that our sons will have better decision making skills and be less impulsive when it’s time for them to be back in society. Hopefully this experience will make them choose NOT to use when they get the chance because the consequences will be so severe. Even though my son is is legally an adult, his brain is definitely not one.
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Old 01-16-2019, 04:49 AM
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Lizlizzie2, I am completely with you on the fact that addiction changes people so they are not adults just because theyíve been on earth a certain amount of time. My incarcerated son is not nearly as mature or responsible as his two younger siblings and has not been ever since he started using at age 13. Science tells us that male brains donít stop developing until 25 or 26, and then our addict kids have the additional problem of brain trauma from the drug use that has delayed their development. Add in years of being locked up, and theyíre going to have a lot to learn when they get out.
....

I have to admit that right now I feel like itís the calm before the storm. We know where he is, we donít think heís using, he doesnít have the drama of social media, and we donít think heís suicidal at the moment. Now Iím terrified about what might happen when he gets out. I really hope that our sons will have better decision making skills and be less impulsive when itís time for them to be back in society. ...
It is strange to watch them grow up in prison. He definitely was not mature at age 22 when he started this journey. I would put him around 16 especially emotionally. How much of that immaturity is his brain and how much was a result of drugs stymieing his growth, I don't know. Somewhere around age 26 is when I noticed he was finally growing up and becoming a man. The past year, at age 28, he was definitely no longer a boy.

I can relate to the calm before the storm. I think that is how I felt about the past 2 years. It was a relief, because I finally felt like he was safe, behaving himself, knew the system and how it behaved as to their rules so that he would not get into new trouble, was not going to use drugs again, was thoughtful about his choices. With him getting out soon, along with them moving him to a different prison, that calm has left me.

I have also become aware of things that are the result of incarceration for so long. His belief he knows everything, because in there he does, and I had to remind him that he doesn't in the "real" world. Our last conversation, I was telling him a story about my sister and our upcoming reunion plans. He commented on how I had used all 6 type of argument but he wasn't sure what I wanted him to agree with me on. All I was doing was telling a story without expectation of agreement on anything. I had to think about it afterwards. I imagine in prison he has to be constantly aware of what others are trying to talk him into or convince him of. I wasn't trying to persuade him of anything; just sharing my week. Normal conversation skills are outside of his everyday life experience. I have to be cognizant enough to point these things out to him to consider, but careful of how I present it.

A brave new world ahead for both of us.
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Old 01-20-2019, 03:15 PM
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Oh, Liz. My son already thought he knew everything before he went in. I was hoping heíd realize that he obviously has a lot to learn, but I have a feeling it will be the opposite.

It sounds like they almost have to be deprogrammed after they get out.

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day who has a perfect, angelic son. She thinks my son should be locked up for a very long time even though she knows the struggles heís had with mental illness, addiction, and Lyme. She thinks inmates are getting the punishment that they deserve and that we shouldnít help out with commissary money because our son doesnít deserve it. I tried to explain that the prisons are for-profit institutions and that the inmates get empty calories that are barely enough to survive, and she just didnít get why we send him money for extra food or why I send him books and magazines. She just thinks they deserve what they get.

I told her that Iím concerned about his brain development since heís only 18 and that problems start when you have a bunch of people who are locked up together and bored stiff. Sheís not a reader, so she doesnít understand how people can escape into books or why theyíre so important to him.

She really thinks Iím just enabling by sending books and some extra money for food and vitamins. Itís so weird. If this were her son, sheíd be bending over backward, but she doesnít seem to understand that depression (and self medication along with it) is a disease. She just tells me that right now my sonís a bad boy. Those were her actual words. If she had seen him in the hospital the first time he tried to commit suicide and heard how he talked when he was finally well enough to carry on a conversation, she might have a little bit more insight to how broken this kid is inside. However, her son is a sweetheart who has never done anything wrong in his life. I try to tell her to walk a mile in my shoes, but she just doesnít get it.

These guys are going to need so much help adjusting to the real world when they get out, but no one but people who have had loved ones go through this seem to get it. I really hope I was never as small minded as my friend is. I know I was naive and still am, but Iíd like to think that I at least had compassion and empathy for incarcerated people before my own son got in trouble. Itís like the world just wants to shut them away and forget about them.

What are we supposed to do, abandon our children when they have nothing? Weíll have to help them if we can when they get out. Not enable, but help. They need to have hope for the future. Otherwise I see them sinking further into despair and wanting to use and escape.
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Old 01-20-2019, 06:16 PM
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I think you need a different friend. If you want to see a massive opinion change, talk to her after her angelic son gets crosswise with the law. Looking down on other folks is what makes many judgmental people the happiest.

Your Son will determine his future after he is released from prison. I hope he has decided that prison is awful enough that he won't ever go back. You can definitely support him, especially if he is attempting to do the right thing.
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Old 01-20-2019, 07:11 PM
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Oh, Liz. My son already thought he knew everything before he went in. I was hoping heíd realize that he obviously has a lot to learn, but I have a feeling it will be the opposite.

...

What are we supposed to do, abandon our children when they have nothing? Weíll have to help them if we can when they get out. Not enable, but help. They need to have hope for the future. Otherwise I see them sinking further into despair and wanting to use and escape.
Mama33, Considering the number of incarcerated people, your friend needs to grow up and grow aware. She chooses not to; unless it affects her. Even when it's an extended family member - nephew, cousin, aunt, etc. - family members criticize. It's when it gets close to home and it is your own child, parent, grandchild, sister, that you wake up and become aware of the reality. Like you, I hope I wasn't completely insensitive, but I know I was completely uninformed. With our incarceration rates over the past few decades, there is a good chance that a family member or a neighbor has been in jail and/or prison - in all our lives.

As moms, we don't ever abandon our children. Sometimes we have to let them go but I do believe part of being a parent is your child knowing you are there loving him or her even when you let go. 6.5 years in, it is not that my son needs to be deprogrammed so much as he needs to be re-educated. First, because drugs stopped or deterred that process into the wrong kind of learning; second, because prison educated him in survival but not in living; and third, because so much of his life has passed by that he has missed the changes that have gone on in the world. Being young when he went in, I think exacerbates all of it.

Hope, money or food to add to their diet, books to expand their minds, vitamins to improve their health, communication to prevent depression - it's all important. It's not only that they are our children, but they are also future members of society.

I know my son is in a better head space now, but those times where I listened to him wish he was dead, believe he would be better off while drowning in drugs - those are memories that will never go away. The more positive changes in him have dulled some of the color and sharpness, and I hope your son can accomplish similar positive changes.

If you can't educate your friend, spend your time with friends who can understand. You need as much support as you can find.
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Old 01-20-2019, 11:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Mama33 View Post
Oh, Liz. My son already thought he knew everything before he went in. I was hoping heíd realize that he obviously has a lot to learn, but I have a feeling it will be the opposite.

It sounds like they almost have to be deprogrammed after they get out.

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day who has a perfect, angelic son. She thinks my son should be locked up for a very long time even though she knows the struggles heís had with mental illness, addiction, and Lyme. She thinks inmates are getting the punishment that they deserve and that we shouldnít help out with commissary money because our son doesnít deserve it. I tried to explain that the prisons are for-profit institutions and that the inmates get empty calories that are barely enough to survive, and she just didnít get why we send him money for extra food or why I send him books and magazines. She just thinks they deserve what they get.

I told her that Iím concerned about his brain development since heís only 18 and that problems start when you have a bunch of people who are locked up together and bored stiff. Sheís not a reader, so she doesnít understand how people can escape into books or why theyíre so important to him.

She really thinks Iím just enabling by sending books and some extra money for food and vitamins. Itís so weird. If this were her son, sheíd be bending over backward, but she doesnít seem to understand that depression (and self medication along with it) is a disease. She just tells me that right now my sonís a bad boy. Those were her actual words. If she had seen him in the hospital the first time he tried to commit suicide and heard how he talked when he was finally well enough to carry on a conversation, she might have a little bit more insight to how broken this kid is inside. However, her son is a sweetheart who has never done anything wrong in his life. I try to tell her to walk a mile in my shoes, but she just doesnít get it.

These guys are going to need so much help adjusting to the real world when they get out, but no one but people who have had loved ones go through this seem to get it. I really hope I was never as small minded as my friend is. I know I was naive and still am, but Iíd like to think that I at least had compassion and empathy for incarcerated people before my own son got in trouble. Itís like the world just wants to shut them away and forget about them.

What are we supposed to do, abandon our children when they have nothing? Weíll have to help them if we can when they get out. Not enable, but help. They need to have hope for the future. Otherwise I see them sinking further into despair and wanting to use and escape.
Hi Mama33,

If I had given up on my son and not been there for him, he probably would have committed suicide. Even now, with 18 months of incarceration under his belt, his Dad and I are his only lifeline to the world. I would never abandon him when he's made the biggest mistake of his life. What kind of person would do that? Your friend has no right to advise you, until she's walked a mile in your shoes. She has No IDEA about this system and what it does to young people. Thats the problem with many people, they just don't understand!
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Old 01-21-2019, 09:02 AM
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** However, her son is a sweetheart who has never done anything wrong in his life. I try to tell her to walk a mile in my shoes, but she just doesn’t get it.****




wow. Agree with fbopnomore. You need another friend. You are right of course. Her son would *never* do anything wrong.( riiiiiiiiiiight)


I think if the conversation ever came up again......ask her to imagine if it WERE her son in the same situation as yours, with the same obstacles.
In the meantime, realize her limitations and either forgive her for her blessed ignorance, or just lose her number.
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Old 01-21-2019, 11:26 AM
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** However, her son is a sweetheart who has never done anything wrong in his life. I try to tell her to walk a mile in my shoes, but she just doesnít get it.****




wow. Agree with fbopnomore. You need another friend. You are right of course. Her son would *never* do anything wrong.( riiiiiiiiiiight)

***I actually suspect that this kid is gay but just hasnít come out yet. He really is a very sweet kid, but Iím not sure how the parents are going to handle it if he does come out. I sure hope theyíre ok with it because he seriously is a nice kid. Would I mention that I think this about him to her? Never. Iím sure heís not perfect, but he is one of the most sensitive souls Iíve ever met. Her DAUGHTER, on the other hand, I would not trust as far as I could throw! ****

I think if the conversation ever came up again......ask her to imagine if it WERE her son in the same situation as yours, with the same obstacles.
In the meantime, realize her limitations and either forgive her for her blessed ignorance, or just lose her number.
***This is great advice. I need to realize her limitations and forgive her, and if I keep hearing the same thing, I need to just stop spending time with her. She grew up in a very different situation than I did with a very harsh upbringing in Canada. She kind of rules her family with an iron fist. I was raised with a lot more love and compassion. She thinks my parenting style is not strict enough. What she doesnít see is that my parents raised 5 kids this way with very little trouble, and 2 out of 3 of my teenagers are doing fine. When youíre dealing with a mental illness like depression, itís a whole different ball game. My incarcerated son may have inherited genes for depression and addiction from his biological parents, but she thinks Iím enabling him because thatís what sheís seen in her family. I really donít agree that heís the way he is because of my parenting.


Thanks, everybody, for making me feel better about this. Iím not going to stop giving my son a little commissary money or sending him books or planning to help him when he gets out. Iím almost positive heíd walk straight into oncoming traffic as soon as he gets out if we donít help him. Heck, he may do that even if we do, but he needs to have that hope and back up. Heís already dealing with a lot and just turned 18 in August.

This lady and I have been friends for years, and she REALLY is an amazing person, but this is the first time sheís talked like this. She does like to be the kind of friend who asks the hard questions and wants to make people see different points of view, but this was a bit much. Then she told me to re-watch the Shawshank Redemption, so I did. I have no idea what point she was trying to get across to me with that movie, but it just reinforced all of my ideas that the COs are unfair and that the people who run the prisons are just in it for the money. Now that Iíve found my son almost dead and then barely surviving suicide numerous times, any movies with suicides in them are pretty distressing, and that was in there too, so I got pretty upset. Here I am worried about my son being institutionalized, beat up, raped, killed, or committing suicide, all things that still happen in prisons today, and thatís exactly what they showed.

I wonder if it was the hopeful ending she wanted me to see? I really donít get it. Iím seeing her again next week, and I have a lot of questions for her. Knowing her, she probably just wanted me to see the part where Morgan Freeman talks about how he was a stupid kid when he committed his crime and is a totally different person decades later, but for me to see all of the other stuff was pretty upsetting.

If that was her reasoning, that was tough to watch for one line in the movie. (SPOILER ALERT) I had to walk out of the new ďA Star is BornĒ when I realized what the main character was going to do. My husband was pretty ticked at the friend who recommended it. You DO NOT recommend movies with characters who off themselves to parents whoíve just had a kid in the hospital for that reason or who is now in prison because of a ďdeath by copĒ plan. I do keep telling my son that God must have a plan for him, because there is no way in the world he should be alive today. The doctors said it was a miracle that he survived the first attempt, and though the second as pretty weak, the third one (by cop) was a miracle he survived too.

Like some of you said, unless the person in prison (or who made a suicide attempt) is directly related to you, you just canít understand it.
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Old 01-21-2019, 11:30 AM
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Mama33, Considering the number of incarcerated people, your friend needs to grow up and grow aware. She chooses not to; unless it affects her. Even when it's an extended family member - nephew, cousin, aunt, etc. - family members criticize. It's when it gets close to home and it is your own child, parent, grandchild, sister, that you wake up and become aware of the reality. Like you, I hope I wasn't completely insensitive, but I know I was completely uninformed. With our incarceration rates over the past few decades, there is a good chance that a family member or a neighbor has been in jail and/or prison - in all our lives.

As moms, we don't ever abandon our children. Sometimes we have to let them go but I do believe part of being a parent is your child knowing you are there loving him or her even when you let go. 6.5 years in, it is not that my son needs to be deprogrammed so much as he needs to be re-educated. First, because drugs stopped or deterred that process into the wrong kind of learning; second, because prison educated him in survival but not in living; and third, because so much of his life has passed by that he has missed the changes that have gone on in the world. Being young when he went in, I think exacerbates all of it.

Hope, money or food to add to their diet, books to expand their minds, vitamins to improve their health, communication to prevent depression - it's all important. It's not only that they are our children, but they are also future members of society.

I know my son is in a better head space now, but those times where I listened to him wish he was dead, believe he would be better off while drowning in drugs - those are memories that will never go away. The more positive changes in him have dulled some of the color and sharpness, and I hope your son can accomplish similar positive changes.

If you can't educate your friend, spend your time with friends who can understand. You need as much support as you can find.

This makes me feel so much better. I know youíve been at this a lot longer than I have, and I really appreciate your insight.

I donít know what I would do without this forum.
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Old 01-21-2019, 11:37 AM
Mama33 Mama33 is offline
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***This is great advice. I need to realize her limitations and forgive her, and if I keep hearing the same thing, I need to just stop spending time with her. She grew up in a very different situation than I did with a very harsh upbringing in Canada. She kind of rules her family with an iron fist. I was raised with a lot more love and compassion. She thinks my parenting style is not strict enough. What she doesnít see is that my parents raised 5 kids this way with very little trouble, and 2 out of 3 of my teenagers are doing fine. When youíre dealing with a mental illness like depression, itís a whole different ball game. My incarcerated son may have inherited genes for depression and addiction from his biological parents, but she thinks Iím enabling him because thatís what sheís seen in her family. I really donít agree that heís the way he is because of my parenting.


Thanks, everybody, for making me feel better about this. Iím not going to stop giving my son a little commissary money or sending him books or planning to help him when he gets out. Iím almost positive heíd walk straight into oncoming traffic as soon as he gets out if we donít help him. Heck, he may do that even if we do, but he needs to have that hope and back up. Heís already dealing with a lot and just turned 18 in August.

This lady and I have been friends for years, and she REALLY is an amazing person, but this is the first time sheís talked like this. She does like to be the kind of friend who asks the hard questions and wants to make people see different points of view, but this was a bit much. Then she told me to re-watch the Shawshank Redemption, so I did. I have no idea what point she was trying to get across to me with that movie, but it just reinforced all of my ideas that the COs are unfair and that the people who run the prisons are just in it for the money. Now that Iíve found my son almost dead and then barely surviving suicide numerous times, any movies with suicides in them are pretty distressing, and that was in there too, so I got pretty upset. Here I am worried about my son being institutionalized, beat up, raped, killed, or committing suicide, all things that still happen in prisons today, and thatís exactly what they showed.

I wonder if it was the hopeful ending she wanted me to see? I really donít get it. Iím seeing her again next week, and I have a lot of questions for her. Knowing her, she probably just wanted me to see the part where Morgan Freeman talks about how he was a stupid kid when he committed his crime and is a totally different person decades later, but for me to see all of the other stuff was pretty upsetting.

If that was her reasoning, that was tough to watch for one line in the movie. (SPOILER ALERT) I had to walk out of the new ďA Star is BornĒ when I realized what the main character was going to do. My husband was pretty ticked at the friend who recommended it. You DO NOT recommend movies with characters who off themselves to parents whoíve just had a kid in the hospital for that reason or who is now in prison because of a ďdeath by copĒ plan. I do keep telling my son that God must have a plan for him, because there is no way in the world he should be alive today. The doctors said it was a miracle that he survived the first attempt, and though the second as pretty weak, the third one (by cop) was a miracle he survived too.

Like some of you said, unless the person in prison (or who made a suicide attempt) is directly related to you, you just canít understand it.
I accidentally put some of my response in your quote. I STILL canít get stuff right in forums! Iím just new at this, but Iím trying!
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