This is a subject that is especially personal to me. I have two children. One I have never met and another I barely know and haven’t seen in about 16 years. She and I once had a very strong relationship. But it seems time works both ways. Time will heal wounds and it will also kill relationships. As time goes by I feel just a bit further away from my kids and a little less like their father (even though in reality I’m just their dad by DNA right now). I do have faith that will one day change. But with so much time gone by that faith has taken a hit. The worst lies are the ones we tell ourselves. So I won’t lie and say I have this happy, rosy outlook for the future. My future looks bleak at the moment. But I am holding on to the hope that something will happen that changes things. You can’t go on living without some kind of hope and faith. Otherwise what is the point of life and living?
While I have had such a bad experience in prison with parenthood. I have seen others make it work. I have seen guys see their kids every weekend and have great relationships with their kids. They will talk to them and be in their lives through letters, emails, and phone calls. I have seen though that it only works if the kids have a support system around them that encourages and fosters that connection. During the first years of my criminal sentence I had a great relationship with my daughter because her mother wanted to be in a relationship with me. As soon as she decided to be with someone else she killed my relationship with my daughter.
So with that personal experience I see that the guys who have maintained a relationship with their kids had either a former or current spouse that was approving of that relationship. Or the child’s guardian approves it. Therefore my advice to those in prison is to maintain a healthy friendly relationship with who ever is raising your child. That is just as important as the actual parent child relationship itself. If your child is already grown then you can focus just on that relationship.
I encourage the mothers, fathers, and guardians out there to think long and hard about fostering a relationship between the children and their incarcerated parent. It is not always about you or how the romantic relationship turned out. Think twice before you use the relationship between your kids and their parent in prison to punish the person in prison. A relationship with one’s child is very important to rehabilitation and also the mental health of both the child and the imprisoned parent. Think about it and always remember, with the right thought and care even an already damaged relationship can be healed.