From a son’s point of view: the impact of incarceration on a Black mother | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey

By Rodney Wrice

The moment a mother finds out that her child has been incarcerated is one that she will never forget. At first, shock and disbelief set in. “How could this happen? What did I do wrong?” She may blame herself and replay every mistake she’s ever made as a parent. She feels helpless and powerless, unable to protect her child from the harsh realities of prison life.

As time goes on, other emotions surface. Anger at the system, at the people who put her child there. The streets, gangs or people in them. Guilt for not doing enough to prevent it. Fear for her child’s safety and well-being. Sadness for the life her child will miss out on. And above all, a deep sense of loss and heartbreak that never really goes away.

The toll on a mother’s life

The impact of a child’s incarceration on a mother’s life cannot be overstated. She may suffer from depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. She may feel isolated and ashamed, as if her family has been marked with a scarlet letter. She may lose friends, her job, or her home. Her relationships with her other children, her partner, and her extended family may suffer.

The incarcerated child’s role

While a mother’s pain may seem insurmountable, there are steps that an incarcerated child can take to ease some of her suffering. First and foremost, they should communicate regularly with their mother. Letters, phone calls, and visits (when possible) can make a huge difference in a mother’s morale. An incarcerated child should also take responsibility for their actions and work towards rehabilitation. This can provide a sense of hope for their mother, knowing that their child is working to turn their life around.

Upon release, an incarcerated child should seek out resources to help them reintegrate into society. This can include job training, counseling, and support groups. The child should also be open and honest with their mother about their experiences and their plans for the future. This can help restore trust and rebuild the relationship that was strained by their incarceration.

The shared burden 

Incarceration is a painful experience for everyone involved, but it is particularly devastating for mothers. The emotional toll can be overwhelming, and the impact on their lives can be long-lasting. However, by taking responsibility for their actions and working towards rehabilitation, an incarcerated child can ease some of their mother’s suffering. Communication and honesty are key in rebuilding the relationship between a mother and child that has been strained by the experience of incarceration.

It is important to recognize that a mother’s pain does not diminish the gravity of the crime committed by the incarcerated child. However, it is also important to acknowledge the humanity of all parties involved. Incarceration affects not only the offender but also their loved ones. Mothers of incarcerated children deserve empathy and support during this difficult time.

Let us all not lose sight, seeing your child suffer in any capacity can be a mother’s worst nightmare. When it takes the form of incarceration, the emotional toll can be overwhelming. However, there are steps that an incarcerated child can take to alleviate some of their mother’s pain. 

Regular communication, taking responsibility for their actions, and seeking out resources for rehabilitation can all help the emotional pain of seeing a child behind bars is a heavy burden for any mother to bear. However, with time, support, and a commitment to rehabilitation, it is possible to heal and move forward. It is important for both the mother and the child to remember that they are not alone in this struggle. There are resources available to help them through this difficult time, and with the right mindset, they can emerge from this experience stronger and more resilient than ever before. 

I write the above because she passed away while I was walking the yard at Pelican Bay State Prison— concerned more about my homies, than how she must have felt the day I walked through those prison gates.  

To my mother, Gloria, and all mothers who have an incarcerated child, I’m deeply sorry for my actions and behavior. 

May you all have the strength and courage to carry on, even in the face of such a unique adversity. 


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