Over 53 percent of prisoners are parents, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. More than 70 percent of minor children with parents who have been incarcerated are minorities. Studies report that one-third of moms and one-fourth of dads say that their children saw them being arrested.
How do you help your child deal with such an overwhelming event? When you are dealing with an arrest and possible jail time and you have kids, there are no easy answers for the children. The children need reassurance. They need honesty. And they need you to help them understand that no matter what happens, you will love them always and that things will ultimately be okay.
Children experience a parent being jailed as a death, essentially. Studies have revealed that children of jailed parents exhibit behaviors that include sadness, crying, confusion, worry, anger, acting out, drug use, drop in their school performance, juvenile delinquency, drug use, sexual promiscuity, developmental regression and more.
They may also have feelings of guilt – as they were not able to protect their parents. Naturally, they could not protect their parents, but young children do not realize this and sometimes believe that it is their fault that the parent was taken away.
It is your job to help your child understand that you are there for them, even if you will be far away for a time. You must seek resources to help you explain what is going on in a way that will allow you discuss the situation with your child without adding to their fear. If possible, help them share their feelings with you. They may show their feelings by acting out, acting angrily, or ignoring you. Don’t take it personally. They are likely scared and showing you in the only way they know how.
If you are jailed, making sure to continue communication with your child will help the child better manage his or her feelings of loss and separation. If they are able to see the prison, it will help clear out fears and horrific imaginings about the prison.
Remember not to use your child as a venting or sounding board. They are not adults. They simply need to know the basics of what is going on, according to what is appropriate for their age. Remind them that they will be all right, even if right now is difficult. And then know in your heart that your children are resilient and that they will be okay.
Criminal Defense Attorney in Media, PA: 610-565-0240
Are you a parent who has been arrested and uncertain how to protect your rights? Discuss your situation with an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Law Offices of John E. Kusturiss, Jr., in Media, Pennsylvania.
We are based in Media, Pennsylvania, and represent clients across a wide range of criminal defense matters. In addition to our criminal defense practice, the firm also represents clients in divorce and family law and personal injury matters throughout Springfield, Chester, Upper Darby, Ridley Park, Newtown Square, and Havertown, PA.