Your loved one is very excited to be released from prison. And why wouldn’t they be? Incarcerated life is rough. Upon release, they get to breathe the fresh air of freedom again. It’s exhilarating. But it’s also scary.
Your loved one has been dreaming of this day. They’ve probably been thinking about what it will be like and how things will be different when they’re released. Unfortunately, once they do exit the prison walls, they may feel the sting of reality.
Help them prepare for reentry by supporting their hopes and dreams. Get excited for them, but also let them know that it may take some time and work. That doesn’t mean you should squash their goals, you want them to succeed. Instead, find a way to help them make rational goals a reality. Talk with them about what their plans are for making those goals come true. Encourage them to plan a course of action. This can help them better prepare for when they’re released.
Unfortunately, things aren’t as easy for those with a history of incarceration. Many pass judgment and are unwilling to give people a second chance. Your loved one needs your support and to know that there are those who do believe in their second chance. They also need to be aware that some people may not be quick to give them one, which means they may need to work harder to make their goals a reality. Remind them that the work will be worth it! Help them not to get discouraged by this reality. Encourage them to join a support group and look into programs that help newly released prisoners find employment.
Your loved one may want to move on with their life and not look back, but it’s important they work through things. Prison life isn’t the same as the outside world. Prepare your loved one. Encourage them to seek counseling upon return to help them as they integrate into society. If they had issues with addictions in the past, they should consider seeking recovery support as well.
If you’re planning to help your loved one upon reentry, be open about how much you’re able and willing to support them. Be loving but set any necessary boundaries. Help your loved one prepare for this journey by encouraging them to plan ahead and prepare for reality. But, also be loving and supportive throughout the journey. You and your loved one should hold onto hope. Yes, it will take work, but it will be worth it!
[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.]