Reentering society after prison is tough. Depending on how long the person has been locked up, the world they reenter may be a lot different than what they’re used to.
This can be difficult to adjust to, let alone the overwhelming feelings that come from finding work, a place to stay and reestablishing themselves. It will take time for your loved one to find themselves on the outside.
They will probably face many hurdles as they work through their emotions and try to find employment. They may have learned unhealthy emotional habits in prison, such as using anger to deal with problems. They may face depression and frustration on the outside.
Be aware that when your loved one is released, they will most likely be different than before. They went through a very difficult time and prison culture is not the same as on the outside. It will take them time to adjust. Try to be loving and supportive as they find their way. Try to work things out calmly and be a positive influence. Don’t let your emotions get the better of you as you both try to work through these feelings.
You and your loved one will need an adjustment period as you work through all of the emotions that reentry can bring. Remember that you don’t have to do this alone. Be willing to look for help elsewhere. Your loved one needs support and you probably do as well. Consider a counselor, therapist or a support group. Make sure that you both have positive people in your lives that can help you through the difficulties.
It’s important to be careful about who you keep company with. This is especially true for your loved one. Encourage them to find friends that will help them stay on the straight and narrow, and to stay away from those who may cause them to slip up.
There will be times when your loved one feels rejected and like a failure. Many people aren’t willing to give others a second chance. It may be hard for your loved one to find work. It may even be difficult to make new friends or win over certain family members. Continue to remind them that they are loved and have value. Don’t let them believe the lies that they are a failure or unworthy. Help them see all of the progress they’ve made so far. Push them to focus on positive things instead of those things that will discourage them.
Your loved one will need support, strength, love and willpower to walk this difficult road. It will probably take time to find and reestablish themselves, but it is possible. They can turn things around and find success in their new life. Help them see that.
[Monalisa Johnson is a licensed and ordained minister of the gospel and a certified life coach as well as a mother and entrepreneur. In no way is anything that she writes, speaks or shares considered medical advice or clinical therapy. Consider all that you receive to be life coaching and guidance.]