As the United States grapples with one of the worst public pandemics ever, young children will most certainly be concerned about their own wellbeing and their parents, especially those who are confined in jails or prisons. Now is the time to consider what you as a caregiver, parent, or helping professional will do to help these little ones to better understand.
1. Be honest
2. Use age-appropriate language
3. Admit that things are uncertain
4. Find ways to continue communication (between children and their incarcerated parents. They may be concerned and just the mere sound of a parent's voice may calm their fears. Some technology companies provided at the jails and prisons (i.e. video conference, J-Pay, etc.) are offering free phone minutes given that many of the current lockdown at prisons.
Consider our free audio-books to discuss parental incarceration. Hop over to audio books/ebooks. See an excerpt below:
Baby Star Finds “Happy,” by Dr. Avon Hart-Johnson, Baby Star Finds “Happy” is a story about a child’s journey, where she embraces friendship, family, and forgiveness when a mother goes to jail. Baby Star learns that sadness is a normal response when someone you love is gone. She also learns that she is not at fault for her mother’s incarceration.
Rocko’s Guitar, by Dr. Geoff Johnson, Rocko’s Guitar, is a story about a young male who adores his dad, a budding musician. Rocko’s bond with his father is strengthened when his dad gives him a cherished guitar for his birthday. Their relationship must withstand an unexpected separation due to Dad’s incarceration
Truth and the Big Dinner, By Dr. Renata Hedrington-Jones, Truth and the Big Dinner, a story about a little girl named “Truth” who is just learning about her self-identity and the importance of self-image. To her, the big dinner is a day that she can show off her new hairdo and her affectionate relationship with her mom. She loves her big family. However, they all have concealed the big secret: Mommy is not coming home for the big dinner because she is incarcerated.
Jamie’s Big Visit,** By Dr. Avon Hart-Johnson. This book chronicles Jamie the Bear’s experience as he learns about grown-up time-out (incarceration). This guide helps a parent or caregiver to explain and minimize the possible fear associated with their first prison visit.
Dr. Avon Hart-Johnson
Storybook Research Team