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Does having an incarcerated parent impact children?

When defendants are facing time in prison, they often think about the effects the incarceration will have on them. What many don't stop to think about is how incarceration will impact the children who are losing their parent.

You might not realize this, but having a parent in prison is oftentimes more traumatic for a child than having their parents go through a divorce. In some cases, these children are so traumatized that they end up with serious problems down the road, especially in school.

What makes it so hard for these children?

Not only are they dealing with having a parent who is incarcerated, they are also dealing with the social stigma that comes with it. These children often feel the need to keep their parent's incarceration a secret. This can impact them on many levels. They might try to keep people away from the home or they might try to hide from some events. Overall, the feeling of a lack of support can overwhelm the child.

How can we help the children who have an incarcerated parent?

Building support systems is one way that these children can get help. They must realize that they aren't less of a person just because a parent made a bad choice. The parent who is incarcerated should be sure to offer support as much as possible to the child.

For parents who are facing a criminal charge, working on your defense strategies might help you to minimize any potential penalties. This might also help your child to better cope with the ultimate outcome of your case.

Source: Education Week, "Parents' Incarceration Takes Toll on Children, Studies Say," Sarah D. Sparks, accessed April 21, 2017

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