Raising a child who has a parent in jail isn’t an easy task. Whether you’re the other parent or a helpful family member, it’s overwhelming either way.
Having to explain why their parent isn’t there can leave you feeling guilty and sad. Regardless of the circumstances, accepting their parent is facing criminal charges isn’t something a child can easily understand.
As the caregiver, it’s up to you to try to make sure their lives are as normal possible despite things being far from ordinary. Here are some of the best ideas for encouraging a mentally healthy child despite having an incarcerated parent.
Keep Their Parent Updated
It’s vital that the parent stays up to date with everything in their lives. Be sure to keep the parent updated with milestones in their abilities, accomplishments at school, and any changes in their behavior.
By keeping the parent in jail up to date with what’s going on in their life, they’ll feel less disconnected. As a result, they’ll have more to discuss when they communicate.
Don’t Badmouth The Parent
Regardless of whether you disagree with their behavior that led to being incarcerated, it’s vital that you always speak respectfully about their parent. Criticizing and insulting them will cause the child to feel confused. They may feel forced to agree with you about their parent.
Therefore, it’s important that rather than talking badly about the other parent, you speak respectfully. You can outline the reason they are in jail as being a result of bad decisions; not a result of being a bad person.
Encourage Plenty Of Contact
Life can get busy, and it’s not always easy to organize phone calls and visits with a parent in prison. However, it’s important to encourage communication between them and their child as much as possible.
If the child doesn’t have enough contact with their parent, over time, they’ll lose their connection with them. When they get out of jail, they may put a wall up and refuse to treat them like a parent.
In order to explain to the child in the healthiest way possible why their mother or father is absent from their lives, you may want to consider going to a professional therapist.
They’ll be able to provide you with the right tools in order to protect their emotions. A therapist won’t just be helpful for the child in understanding the circumstances, but it may be incredibly beneficial for you as well.
By learning how to communicate with each other, you can hopefully care for the child in the best way possible. Although it won’t be an easy road, applying these methods may make it a little less stressful on everyone.
*This article was contributed.