How to talk to kids about a parent going to prison?
June 3, 2015 2:47 PM   Subscribe

What are some good guidelines for talking to kids about their parent's upcoming prison term?

Can you help point me to organizaitons, online info, books, and especially advice from your own experiences, about how best to support kids (age 5-10) through learning about, and then coping with, their parent's upcoming incarceration?

In case some context helps, the parent in question is going to a minimum-security facility (for a white collar crime), and will be probably be gone around two years. There's a small but strong family/friend network already in place to support the family... but they're at a loss for how to apporach this, too.

Thank you all, so much, for any help you can provide. (Throwaway email:
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
For the younger child, Sesame Street has a character whose dad is incarcerated. They have resources to go with the segment.
posted by bizzyb at 3:32 PM on June 3, 2015 [5 favorites] has tons of info, support and tips.
posted by girlmightlive at 3:58 PM on June 3, 2015

Friends Outside is an organization which supports children with incarcerated family members. They have excellent downloadable resources with lots of suggestions for how to talk to children about prison, and may be able to hook you up with support from someone local.
posted by pickingupsticks at 3:59 PM on June 3, 2015

If the children are girls and they're in the US, Girl Scouts has an organization just for them.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:08 PM on June 3, 2015

Note: it might be that the parent in prison has to be the mom; I don't know. In general Girl Scouts works with any parents, but this program might be gender-specific.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:10 PM on June 3, 2015

This reading list by the Scholar and Feminist online is specifically for children of incarcerated parents and also has a link to other online resources. Libraries often have at least a book or two in their collection specifically about this (often geared towards fathers, just FYI) including The Night Dad Went to Jailand When Dad Was Away. I don't have a lot of experience with these books in particular but there are a lot of related books when you pull them up on Amazon which might be worth browsing through to see if any look specifically up your alley. Your local librarian may have other suggestions.
posted by jessamyn at 6:20 PM on June 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

There are a number of programs I'm familiar with that help incarcerated parents record themselves reading a book to their child. The child receives the recording (CD or digital) and the book, and can listen to the parent reading the book to them whenever they want.

I'd recommend (if it's possible, before incarceration) that the parent record themselves reading a book for each child--it will be a good way to maintain the parent-child bond even when the parent is incarcerated. It may even be possible for the parent to continue doing this once incarcerated, especially if there is a formal program available.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 7:05 PM on June 3, 2015

Prison: the hidden sentence offers advice for family members.
posted by zepheria at 8:15 PM on June 3, 2015

San Francisco Children of Incarcerated Parents has a Bill of Rights that seems like one good framework to start thinking about what's important. There are a lot of additional links on the left if you scroll down this page.
posted by juliplease at 5:05 PM on June 4, 2015

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