4 Things to Tell Young Kids When Dad is In Jail

While your husband is incarcerated, your children will want to know what has happened. These four things can ease their mind without burdening them.

  1. Explain why he went. Without being specific about the exact crime he is accused of, you can tell the children that the judge thinks their dad broke the law and he is in jail until he can work out some problems. They might press for details, but children don’t need them. Keep it short and simple for them.
  2. Express that he loves them. Young children have a hard time grasping that dad cannot come home, so they draw the natural conclusion that he doesn’t want to. Do your best to warmly say, “Your dad sure loves you, I know he can’t wait to come home and hug you!” every few days. Remind them that he is not able to come at the moment.Related:  The importance of family
  3. Help them when other children get negative. Unfortunately, children can be cruel and things might be said to your child about where their dad is right now. Talk to them about this before it happens. Encourage them come tell you what was said and who said it to them so you can resolve these problems for them by speaking to teachers and other parents about this delicate situation.
  4. Inform them about what happens in court. Criminal court is no place for children, so don’t bring them if you can help it. They will see and hear things that they are too young to be exposed to as the many cases get called before the judge. Each time there is a court date around their dad’s case, let them know whether dad is coming home soon or whether he might be gone for awhile.

Related: Should children visit jails and prisons

Final thoughts: Children can handle the truth as long as they are clear about what is going on.  Assure them you have no plans to go anywhere and that you will take care of them while dad is gone. This assurance and your love will give them what it takes to handle dad being in jail.

Video: Little children, big challenges: incarceration animation from Sesame Street

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writes about inmates, jails, prisons, courts and the lives of people who live and work within the United States Criminal Justice System. His mission can be summed up in a single word; transparency.