As anyone with a loved one in prison can attest, staying in touch isn’t always easy. In fact, it can be a very trying thing on families to adjust to limited physical contact and interaction. While this may be discouraging and even debilitating, it’s critical you do not allow it to stop your ability to stay connected with someone you care about. In fact, studies reveal that incarcerated men and women who stay in touch with supportive family members are more likely to successfully re-integrate after their release.
As you are working to keep in touch, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Share happy moments – Taking time to share happy moments with someone you care for in prison is essential. Although some things may seem small or not worth mentioning at all to your loved one in prison; you should still make it a habit of including them in your life moments. This is one of the best ways to show them that you value them. Whether they are big or small moments, taking the time to write a letter, call them or even tell them in person will mean the world to them. An excellent way to share moments with someone in prison is by sending pictures of those moments. Certainly, they will need to be appropriate pictures, but sharing your joy with a picture will help them celebrate with you in a meaningful way.
Listen to them – Sharing your happy moments is important, but don’t forget to listen too. As you listen, take note of the things that matter to them; for example, the books they enjoy, friends they have and accomplishments they have made; there is much to learn from listening. This will also help you engage in future conversations with topics that they truly care about.
Show up for them – In the business of life, many families spend less and less time with a loved one in prison. It’s crucial for you, as much as it is for them, to show up and let them know you care. There are many ways you can “show up” for them. It is important to remember their birthdays and other important dates with gifts, visits, phone calls or letters; remember, your actions help build trust and self-worth.
Be sincere with them – It can be easy to disconnect with a loved one in prison. The separation of time, the coldness of a prison visiting room and the absence of their daily presence can make it easy to disconnect emotionally. Whether it’s a parent, spouse, child, or a friend; it’s crucial to share your emotions with them.
Stay connected – As you are considering questions to ask your loved one, here are a few methods to use. Phone and video calls are some of the most practical ways to stay connected. A few other ways are letters, emails, and prison visits. Most prisons allow gifts and sundry boxes as well, but be sure to check with the prison’s rules first. Don’t forget to send pictures of important moments to them as well.