by Jan Walker
A valuable resource for incarcerated parents who are committed to remaining involved with their children and who are willing to accept the responsibilities associated with parenting from a distance. (144 pp.)
1 – Commitment and Challenge
Research shows that children of incarcerated parents suffer from a variety of learning and attention disorders. They tend to ignore homework assignments. Many of them develop substance abuse problems.
2 – Rights and Responsibilities
Incarceration does not end your financial responsibility to your children unless the court legally terminates your parental rights. You can help pay child support costs by registering with the court for minimum support status.
3 – The Explanations
You have the right to choose what you want your children to know about your separation. You have a responsibility to give them that information as soon as reasonable.
4 – The Daily Routine
Stay involved in your children’s daily routine by working closely with the children’s primary caregivers.
5 – Touching From a Distance
Communication is important to parents and children. Phone calls keep voices alive. Letters answer questions.
6 – Visiting
Prison visiting requires planning and legal preparation. Minor children need the consent of their non-incarcerated parent or legal guardian. Consent may include notarized forms and certified birth certificates.
7 – Holidays and Occasions
Focus on ways to help children feel special on their birthdays and find joy on holidays.
8 – The Systems
Incarceration involves legal and social services systems. Laws affect child custody and guardianship. Legal guardianship can be tailored to meet the child’s needs.
9 – Shared Parenting
Incarcerated parents who remain involved with their children are also involved in shared parenting.
10 – Reuniting
Taking parenting classes or relationships counseling may be as important during reentry as AA and NA. For difficult reunions, use a Contract for Forgiveness. Make family meetings part of your reunion. Suggestions at the book’s end include an Affidavit of Legal Guardianship, a Sample Letter to School, and a Sample Letter to Caseworker.