The family lifeline is communication. Discover and use every method available to keep this link intact. Mail, telephone calls, visits are some of the possible opportunities to keep the contact fresh and meaningful.
At times, there may be a strong temptation to abandon further contact as all family members grapple with the pain and distress of the situation. The prisoner may reach a point of belief that cutting off communication would be best for those living in the community. One can have depression in prison as well as in the community.
Remember that those outside live a completely different life than the one inside. Share even the smallest things to keep the flow of information active. Be creative and create your own family traditions which can be adapted to the restrictions imposed by incarceration.
Ask the prisoner what educational or training programs are available to them. Then encourage their participation in these activities. Each of these efforts will help the prisoner and family members to focus on a series of accomplishments, not just dwell on past failures and pain. Each family member can pass along one positive bit of information regarding their current life, it can help to reduce the tension between those inside and outside.
In some institutions it is possible to complete a GED or even an associate degree in conjunction with a local community college. Each day inside must be used as a day of preparation for life outside of prison.
Celebrate small victories. Don’t miss the opportunity to create a fusion of family moments and essential small steps by each member of the family. That is where the wealth of each family exists, in their most treasured memories.
Use telephone privileges wisely. They usually incur steep phone charges. Also avoid fighting or arguing. It destroys the value of a ten minute interaction between those who love each other. Always end the conversation on a positive note and bless each other.
Do not trust community or prison rumor mills. Check it out for yourself and find out the truth. Avoid being sucked into conflicts and hopeless situations. There is a plan for each member of your family, trust the process.