"There are four main questions that children ask or want to ask their incarcerated parents:
- Where are you?
- Why are you there?
- When are you coming home?
- Are you okay?
There are also two questions in the hearts and minds of prisoners’ children that they rarely ask. These questions are often “behind the scenes” in their conversations.
- Do you blame me?
- Do you love me?
Often when one parent is incarcerated, children become overly concerned about and attached to the other parent or primary caretaker. They fear that she or he too will be taken away. Many children are extremely angry. They feel abandoned by parents who risked incarceration by their conflict with the law. Parents generally see little connection between their criminal activity and their children, and certainly do not commit a crime for the purpose of abandoning their families. But children often interpret the parent’s behavior solely in connection to themselves.” If you cared about me you wouldn’t have gone to jail (left me).”*
Incarceration affects the whole family. It is especially devastating to innocent children. The average age of a child whose parent is in prison is only eight years old. Jesus' command for us to "remember the prisoner, extends to the "widow and the fatherless" as well. Please pray for these children, and for the volunteers of Hope Aglow as we counsel and comfort parents in prison. They are broken and hurting very much. Only Jesus love and forgiveness can begin to touch the pain that is there.
* Ann Adalist-Estrin, adapted material from How Can I Help , Children of Prisoners Library.