When your adult child goes to prison, it can be devastating, whether they’re just out of school or well into adulthood. You might feel a whole mix of emotions. Perhaps you’re angry with them for committing a crime but also very anxious about how they’ll cope in prison. You may even feel guilty or ashamed.
None of these emotions are “wrong” and it’s important to get help to cope with how you feel. Here are some practical things that you may find helpful:
- Get Support from Other Parents in a Similar Situation
You may already know other families who have a relative in prison, or you may be facing this situation without any idea of who you could turn to. There are lots of charities and groups that support parents who have a son (or daughter, but statistically it’s far more likely to be a son) in prison.
Simply being able to talk honestly to other people about how you’re feeling can make a big difference. Other parents may also be able to offer practical tips and suggestions for ways you can help your child.
- Stay in Touch With Your Imprisoned Child (e.g. in Kansas)
You might not be able to visit very often, but it’s important to make sure your child knows you still love them and care about them. You can write letters — and you may want to encourage other family members to do so, particularly younger siblings who might still be living at home.
You can also receive phone calls from your child, though you won’t be able to phone them. These can be expensive, so you may need to budget for them. You could either put money into your child’s prison account or you could get them to reverse the charges when calling.
If you’re not sure where your son has been incarcerated, e.g. if he has been moved to a different prison without having the chance to get in touch with you about the details, then you can find out which prison he is currently incarcerated in, whether that’s in Kansas or another state.
- Visit as Frequently As You Can
If your child is in a prison a long way from home, it may be difficult for you (and other family members) to visit much. But even if you can only make the trip a few times a year, it’s well worth doing: it will mean so much to your child.
When you visit, it’s a good idea to make plenty of change for the vending machines in the visiting area, so you can buy snacks for yourself and your child. You might be allowed to take as much as $30 in cash.
Before you’ll be able to visit, your child needs to add you to a list of approved visitors. You don’t automatically get to visit just because you’re a close family member.
- Take Care of Yourself
It can be hard to deal with all the emotions (and potentially practical or financial difficulties) that go along with having a child in prison. Make sure you look after yourself.
If you’re having to budget carefully to be able to afford visits and phone calls, look for things you can do that are low-cost or free. Simply taking a bath or watching a favorite TV show could help you unwind in the evening. You might want to create a self-care routine for your mental health, too.
Do seek help and support if you’re struggling with your mental health, or if you’re having financial difficulties. There are lots of organizations out there that could help you.
It can be hard to cope when your child goes to prison, but following the above tips will hopefully help make it a little easier.