‘I forgot that I used to love him’: readers on having parents in prison | Guardian readers | Opinion

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Inmates at a prison in Wales have been able to keep track of their children’s school progress as part of a scheme to help maintain family relationships during their incarceration. We asked readers to tell us how they felt when their parents were imprisoned and how this changed their relationship.

Leigh, Wales: I felt ashamed when friends talked about their ‘normal’ parents

I was nine when my mother went to prison for burglary. She was in a relationship with an abusive man who had been diagnosed as a sociopath. One night, she and her partner broke into the local newsagents to fund their drug habit and I went to live with my grandparents and my younger siblings were taken into care. No interventions were made to support my relationship with my mother or my siblings and things have never improved.

I felt ashamed when I listened to school friends talk about their “normal” parents. I did not want to see my mother in prison as in my mind a prison was a big scary place. I just wanted to feel safe in my grandparents’ home. An intervention to improve my mother’s parenting skills, how to empathise with children and to show love and affection would have helped back then. I am so glad that this intervention is going on in Wales and feel it will benefit the children and hopefully stop reoffending rates.

Jane, Nottingham: I don’t remember what my relationship was like with my father and I think I am glad

I was 17 when my father went to prison for attempted rape and several accounts of child sexual abuse. His victims included my siblings and I. My brain has blocked out a lot of what happened at the time but I remember that we weren’t allowed to visit him and letters had to be very upbeat. I remember my mum feeling like she was punished too because of what he did. I remember my sister was very traumatised and my brother was very young so, as the eldest, I felt I had to be strong. We were not offered counselling and I developed depression later in life.

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