When your adult child goes to prison

Learning your adult child is going to prison is devastating. You think of the child you raised and the many special memories you’ve shared. You think about how you might have done things differently and wonder what the future might hold.

You dread not being able to call up your child or make special plans with them. So many thoughts and feelings run through your head. You may be angry, disappointed, guilt-ridden, depressed, anxious, or heartbroken.

The future is never really set in stone. We can dream and plan, but things can happen in a second and change all of that. All we can do is keep moving forward and trying to make the best of the situation we’re in. When that situation involves a loved one in prison, we need to work hard to find comfort, motivation, and hope.

We will, undoubtedly, have feelings we need to work through. Surrounding yourself with caring and encouraging people can be helpful. Look to friends and family you can count on. Consider getting to know others in a similar situation who can share their insight and support. There are many groups out there, even online, that you may want to join. Talking with a counselor or therapist can also be helpful when working through these emotions.

Let yourself off the hook. When an adult child goes to prison, you may start spiraling — wondering if you should have parented them differently or if there was something you could have done to prevent this. Your child is an adult, which means they’re in charge of their own decisions. They made this choice, not you. And there is nothing you can do about the past anyway. All you can do is move forward. Try to let go of any guilt or remorse you’re feeling. This is just one of the emotions that can be helpful to talk through with others.

You may feel like everything is out of your control. So do some things that you can control. Pray for your loved one and for yourself as you walk this journey. Keep in touch with your child through written, phone, and in-person communications. And take time for yourself. You’re dealing with a lot of stress right now. Your mind and body need a reprieve. Make time to do things that bring you joy like taking a relaxing bath, playing sports, participating in a hobby, watching a beloved show, or visiting the spa.

Hold onto hope as you go through this. You’ll need it to keep moving forward. Don’t do it alone. Find the support you need. And remember to stay in touch with your child. Things may be different now, but there are still outlets for staying in contact.

[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.]

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