OK. Lets just say your not the only parent in the world that has to raise your child alone. Yet when it comes to our kids and this grisly bear of truths it can seem like they are missing out more than other children. I can be the first to tell you that that is far from the truth.
My story in a short version:
My daughters father has been incarcerated since is was 3 weeks old, she is now 9 years old. I grew up in a blended family and my step dad was the only dad I knew. I wanted different for my daughter but the reality of this was crumbling away! I was now a single mom with no partner to help me. NO help with the bills, NO one to help in crazy hours of the night. It was me and this baby alone. To my surprise her father was convicted and now serving 44 years in prison. After the reality all of this, I had some major decisions to make. Decisions that you may now be trying to make and other decisions that only another parent going through the similar position could help you with.
1. Should you allow visitation?
I would 1st like to say that me and her father were not married. And he was incarcerated when she was just a baby. At first I thought It was OK to let her see her daddy. We went on those long trips that cost me a lot of money (This is unfair to the parent that has to carry on with the responsibilities of raising the child). We did this once a year. However when she turned 4 she was able to recognize what was going on. On that day oh was it different! She did not like being there nor the fact that she saw the ankle cuffs. She did not want to touch him at all. When we left she recognized the bars and bob-wire fence and she did not want to come back. And has not been back since then.
Do some research about children and incarcerated parents. Think of the child. If your child has not been around that parent often then save them the humiliation. You never want your child to get use to being patted down like they are the criminals. You never want your child to feel like the police are bad. My child was afraid of police because she thought that was who took her daddy away. Now that hurts as a mom and to sit down and explain to a young child what is really going on. That brings us to the 2nd question:
2. Should you tell your child the truth?
To be honest I wish that had I never told my child anything (I wish I told her that daddy was lost in the war LOL). But they get big and smart on you really fast! They start asking questions. A lot of questions. The best advise that I can give is explaining to your child that there are many families that just have a mom or just a dad.
3. Should you allow communication?
Well well well... For me I only allow her father to send cards. Her father was angry that I cut the communication with him. After that visit I realized how much he called. And when he called we had to drop what we were doing to speak to him. I found this was irritating not just for me but also to my daughter. Be careful of .....Prison bullies!!! They will call and call. Her father called my house 19 times a day. Do not be afraid to block that call or change your number. I explained to him his position and I call the shots. Letters will be blocked or thrown in the trash if you try to talk to me through those cards or letters. Now it is peaceful. I allow her to write back if she wants but she just likes the card every now and then.
Stay strong and know that your not the only one out here with this issue. Keep an open eye and ear to your children and how they feel. It may be nothing like I said or it maybe right on the nail. What ever it is use wisdom in every decision!
There is so much to say about this topic but I would love to hear your opinion!