About 2.7 million kids across the U.S. have incarcerated parents, and that’s tough on the children – especially around the holidays.
The good news is that as a parent, caregiver, or friend, there are things you can do to make things easier on kids of incarcerated parents during the holiday season.
How to Help Kids Through the Holidays When a Parent is Incarcerated
Most correctional facilities in Wisconsin allow holiday visitation, which can be tremendously beneficial to both the kids and the parent who’s incarcerated.
Even if you’re not able to visit, though, there are a few things you can do to help. Experts suggest:
- Creating personalized gifts for the incarcerated parent
- Writing letters and making cards for the incarcerated parent
- Talking about the parent’s incarceration
- Reading books about parental incarceration
Personalized Gifts, Letters and Cards
You can encourage children to create personalized gifts, letters and cards for their incarcerated parent, which can help them process the feelings they’re experiencing and help them stay connected with mom or dad. There are a few online tools you can use to help from organizations like Sesame Street in Communities, too, including:
Talking About the Parent’s Incarceration
There are several caregivers’ guides that can help you understand the most effective and helpful ways to talk to children about a parent’s incarceration, including:
- How to Explain Jails and Prisons to Children
- Telling the Children (by Prisoners’ Families Helpline)
- How to Tell Kids Their Parent is Incarcerated (by Prison Fellowship)
- Incarceration (by Sesame Street)
Reading Books About Incarceration
There are a number of helpful books about incarceration for kids in all age groups. Some of the best include:
- The Prison Alphabet by Dr. Bahiyyah Muhammad
- Where is My Mommy by Mary Kilgore
- The Invisible String by Patrice Karst
- The Night Dad Went to Jail by Melissa Higgings
- Nowhere Girl by A.J. Pacquette
- Visiting Day by Jacqueline Woodson
- Mama Loves Me from Away by Pat Brisson
- Jakeman by Deborah Ellis
Hopefully you find these resources helpful during the holidays – we know that it’s a difficult time for children and their caregivers.