My son is in jail: Things we have learned as a family from this experience

This article discusses the challenge of enduring hardships as a family and to be productive despite heartaches.

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  • Published in Desafíos de la Vidaby Rita Ibars on October 8, 2013

  • Translated and adapted by Anders Peterson from the original article “¿Mi hijo en prisión? Las cosas que como familia aprendimos de esa experiencia” by Rita Ibars

  • I remembered the moment when we received the sad news that one of our children would go to prison. It was Dec. 22, and we had our other children with us. We all agreed that this would be the worst Christmas of our lives. What are some of the things we learned from that lesson? What is the best way to react as a family? I would like to share the following ideas that may help people that may experience something similar:

  • Seek to learn from this experience

  • I repeated the same phrase to my son during the never-ending four months and 16 days he spent in jail. “Honey, please learn so that this will not only be a bad experience, but a lifelong lesson.” These were very sad days. I thought of him all the time; if he would get hurt, if he would eat, how he would feel and many other things.

  • Seek unity within the family

  • My husband, our children and I took turns to be present in all our visits with my son, which included kissing him, hugging him, laughing with him and talking to him.

  • Make him feel like he is still a part of the family

  • We wanted him to know all of the current news about his nephews because he cared about them.

  • Try to make his time in jail more pleasant

  • We gathered any extra money to buy supplies and anything necessary for his personal needs. We even collected money for him to share with his jail mates so that his life would be easier in that horrible place.

  • Do not lose hope

  • I don’t know a way to express how difficult these months were for us. They were sad and challenging times for our family. A year and a half later, I can say that when I see my son happy with a beautiful family, I firmly believe that he learned a lifelong lesson, and he will never commit the same mistake in order to end up in jail again.

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  • Identify potential problems beforehand

  • I do have the answer to the question that I asked my husband on that fateful day: Where did we go wrong? Yes, it is true. We failed on a lot of things, just like any parent. Children do not come with an instruction manual. The thing is, we could not identify the failures in a timely manner because we are not perfect, just like anyone else.

  • Never lose your faith in God

  • We learned that the only one who never fails us is God. If we have faith, we can see his hand, his power and his guidance.

  • Seek to increase love within the family

  • Now that this experience is behind us, we find joy in our beautiful family. There’s something we have learned from this experience: Whether we have good or bad news, we will be there to support one another. We will not judge or criticize. We will just be there for that person. That is the best thing we can give our children. They learned it, and now they are doing the same as a family because families are the best thing we have in this life.

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Rita is a wife and mother of five children who is embarking on new adventures.

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