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  #1  
Old 10-09-2007, 09:09 AM
ShelliBean ShelliBean is offline
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Would you tell a 6 year old his dad is in jail?

My ex-husband is in jail. I do not know for how long. As soon as he is released he will probably be picked up by the next county. So, if you were me would you tell your six year old son that his father is in jail?

Dear old dad has disappeared before, 4 or 5 months that time, when the boy was 3 years old. At that time whenever he asked I told him that Daddy was working at a special job far away and would be back when his work was done (hey, it was the best I could come up with at the time!).

So far this time the boy hasn't even asked.

I have been in contact with ex via mail. He wants to tell the boy, but I disagreed saying that a 6 y/o doesn't have much of a concept of "shades of gray" badness - to him his dad, the multiple time loser but not violent criminal, would be the same as the rapists and murderers in there because to a 6 y/o jail=bad man.

So, I'm still figuring this out; I will continue to do so and let my son's curiosity be my guide.

But what would you do?
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  #2  
Old 10-09-2007, 09:21 AM
Alice The Goon Alice The Goon is offline
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I would not tell him. Little boys need to be able to idolize their fathers, and his father doesn't have the right to take that away from his son, even though it may be a fantasy. He'll know the truth about his dad in time... I'd let him think dad's a good guy for as long as possible.
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  #3  
Old 10-09-2007, 09:43 AM
foxymoron foxymoron is offline
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I think most six-year-olds can understand the differences between minor crimes and major ones.
If it were my kid, I would absolutely tell him, or let the ex write him a letter which we (my son and I) would then read together so I could explain further (if necessary) and answer his questions.
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  #4  
Old 10-09-2007, 10:08 AM
OtakuLoki OtakuLoki is offline
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I think that, if your son asks, you should tell him simply that "Daddy is being held in a grown-up version of time-out. He did some bad stuff and is now in prison." I really don't think that a 6 yo is going to be making the equivalence between prison and murderers and rapists. That's a bit more baroque than I think most kids that age really think.

I'm not a parent, and have only limited contact with the 6 yo in my life, so YMMV.
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  #5  
Old 10-09-2007, 10:14 AM
Shakes Shakes is online now
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Maybe it just my "Dadness" coming out here, but I'd say if the Dad wants to tell him; then maybe you should let him.

Personally, I agree with you. I'd probably keep it quiet if I could. But hey, it's his kid too. And as long as he's not doing willfully or obvious harm to the kid; he should be able to make that call.
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  #6  
Old 10-09-2007, 10:17 AM
Eureka Eureka is offline
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I think that six years old is getting kind of old to lie to the kid about dad's whereabouts--which may tell you how much I know about 6 year olds (nothing). If the kid doesn't seem curious, I might postpone making the announcement. But if the kid asks where dad is, or why he hasn't seen him in a while, I think I'd tell him the truth, rather than risk the kid feeling betrayed because I lied about dad's whereabouts.
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  #7  
Old 10-09-2007, 11:53 AM
rpinrd rpinrd is offline
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I think you should absolutely tell your son. Six years old is plenty old enough to understand the truth about a parent. The child needs to know what to expect from his father, even if, unfortunately, the reality is that dad's in jail and won't be out for a while. If you say that dad's on "a special job" now, eventually (likely in the next 2-4 years) the kid will know the truth and will know you lied.

I think the best course is to be truthful, but don't editorialize. You can say "Dad is in jail and will not be able to see you for a while." I wouldn't say "You dad is thieving scumbag and if you're lucky you won't grow up like him or ever see him again." If you want and can take your son to go visit dad, tell him that. If you know how long you ex's sentence is, tell you son that by tying it to some future date he'll understand. "I think that Dad won't be able to visit you until after Christmas" or whatever.
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  #8  
Old 10-09-2007, 12:09 PM
WhyNot WhyNot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rpinrd
I think you should absolutely tell your son. Six years old is plenty old enough to understand the truth about a parent. The child needs to know what to expect from his father, even if, unfortunately, the reality is that dad's in jail and won't be out for a while. If you say that dad's on "a special job" now, eventually (likely in the next 2-4 years) the kid will know the truth and will know you lied.

I think the best course is to be truthful, but don't editorialize. You can say "Dad is in jail and will not be able to see you for a while." I wouldn't say "You dad is thieving scumbag and if you're lucky you won't grow up like him or ever see him again." If you want and can take your son to go visit dad, tell him that. If you know how long you ex's sentence is, tell you son that by tying it to some future date he'll understand. "I think that Dad won't be able to visit you until after Christmas" or whatever.
Absolutely. I agree with not badmouthing the ex, but don't whitewash them either. This only leads to confusion when the kid starts forming her own opinions "Daddy didn't pick me up like he said he would. Mommy said if I break a promise, that's bad. So Daddy must be bad. But Mommy says he's not bad...so does that mean breaking promises really isn't bad?"

"Daddy broke the law and he's in jail. He wants to write you lettters, and I'll help you read them. Would you like to draw a picture to send to Daddy?" If he then wants to know what Daddy did, tell him using words he can understand:

"Daddy stole some money from work. He shouldn't have done that, right? So he's in jail; it's like time-out for grownups. He needs to stay there and think about what he did, so maybe he won't make the same mistake again."

or

"Daddy did a very stupid thing, and I'll tell you more about it when you're older. Even people we love who love us sometimes do stupid illegal things, and when they do, they go to jail for a while."

or even,

"Daddy did something illegal. I (or Daddy) don't agree with the law, we think that what he did was okay, but when you break a law you go to jail. I'm going to write a letter to ask the lawmakers to change the law, but I don't know if they will or not. Even when we don't agree with a law, we have to obey it or we go to jail."
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  #9  
Old 10-09-2007, 12:10 PM
OneCentStamp OneCentStamp is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eureka
I think that six years old is getting kind of old to lie to the kid about dad's whereabouts--which may tell you how much I know about 6 year olds (nothing). If the kid doesn't seem curious, I might postpone making the announcement. But if the kid asks where dad is, or why he hasn't seen him in a while, I think I'd tell him the truth, rather than risk the kid feeling betrayed because I lied about dad's whereabouts.
I agree. I think six is getting a little too old to believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy or the Immaculate Parent. (By way of credentials, I have four kids, age 3-8, and have recently had to explain to them why Mom and Dad are divorced) Be honest and direct, but as rpinrd said, try not to editorialize.
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  #10  
Old 10-09-2007, 12:14 PM
lobstermobster lobstermobster is offline
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Originally Posted by OneCentStamp
I agree. I think six is getting a little too old to believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy or the Immaculate Parent. (By way of credentials, I have four kids, age 3-8, and have recently had to explain to them why Mom and Dad are divorced) Be honest and direct, but as rpinrd said, try not to editorialize.
You have four freaking kids?! Okay clearly you do need to be concerned about the penis power because you have been recklessly weilding that thing
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  #11  
Old 10-09-2007, 12:20 PM
Litoris Litoris is offline
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I would tell the boy. I am all about honesty with my kids -- age-appropriate honesty, but honesty nonetheless. For example. when my daughter was younger, I told her that we left her father because he and I had issues that he was unwilling to work on, but when she got older and wanted more details and could understand better, I explained about the abuse.

Kids don't like being lied to, and eventually the truth will come out -- decide for yourself whether or not you want to eventually deal with the "mom, why did you lie about this?" questions. At the same time, if the kid isn't asking, you don't have to offer information. When the kid asks, I would just say something along the lines of "well, Dad got into some trouble and is in jail for now." You know your son better than we do, if you think he wouldn't be able to handle the truth, well, that's between the two of you. I wouldn't give more details than I had to, though, unless you think it might be helpful.

Oh, and in my experience (I have a 15 year old daughter and a 7 year old son) kids are well aware of "shades of grey" by age 6. You can tell that they have that concept when they start doing the avoidance thing -- you know how it goes:

mom: who broke this lamp?
kid: ...
mom: did you break this lamp?
kid: ...
mom: I know you broke the lamp.
kid: I'm sorry

When kids understand that avoiding answering the question is not as bad as actually lying they understand shades of grey.
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  #12  
Old 10-09-2007, 12:25 PM
tdn tdn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WhyNot
So he's in jail; it's like time-out for grownups.
The six year old in my life would be a little insulted if he was spoken to in that manner. He knows full well what jail is.

Six != three.
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  #13  
Old 10-09-2007, 12:28 PM
Dangerosa Dangerosa is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShelliBean

So, I'm still figuring this out; I will continue to do so and let my son's curiosity be my guide.

But what would you do?
I'd do the same.

My issue wouldn't be worrying about shades of grey, mine would be the six year old choosing to blab to all his friends and his teacher and everyone else that "My Dad's in jail." Guilt by association is not a good thing for a six year old and my own fear would be that his teachers would treat him differently and that his playdates would dry up. Adults can be real bastards.

So if you do choose to tell him, you may want to let him know that this is something he shouldn't share.
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  #14  
Old 10-09-2007, 12:34 PM
WhyNot WhyNot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tdn
The six year old in my life would be a little insulted if he was spoken to in that manner. He knows full well what jail is.

Six != three.
That's a good point. I don't know why, but I literally thought the kid in the OP was three.

So, uh, yeah...update my suggestions as appropriate.
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  #15  
Old 10-09-2007, 12:55 PM
tdn tdn is offline
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Originally Posted by WhyNot
That's a good point. I don't know why, but I literally thought the kid in the OP was three.
Don't worry about it. I do the divide by two thing myself sometimes. But don't do it again. If I've told you half a time, I've told five hundred thousand times, so don't make me tell you a first time.
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  #16  
Old 10-09-2007, 01:09 PM
Bobotheoptimist Bobotheoptimist is offline
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I'd say "jail" instead of "prison", and (if it's a non-violent) make sure the kid knows that his father didn't hurt anyone. I'd throw some spin on it - "Your dad went to jail" instead of "He was sent to jail", and explain that even grownups have to pay a price for doing something wrong.

On second thought, and this might just apply to how my own kids handle things, I don't think I'd over explain it. I wouldn't go into great detail about how the justice system operates or even sit him down for a serious talk. My kids hate that. "Dad went to jail because he sold an 8-ball to an undercover cop. I don't know when he'll get to come visit again, but you can write him letters and talk on the phone. Want mac and cheese for dinner?"

I certainly would tell him, but I'd let him come up with his own questions in his own time.
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  #17  
Old 10-09-2007, 01:53 PM
ShelliBean ShelliBean is offline
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Interesting. I was dead set against telling him but now am rethinking my decision. Good points made by all. I'm not the type of parent that normally lies to my kid but this one has me all twisted up. He loves his dad. He looks up to his dad. When it boils down to it I guess I don't want to be the one to tell him his dad isn't a superhero. I don't want to see that crushed look on his little face. Damn damn damn.
He's smarter than I am giving him credit for, though. Maybe this weekend.
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  #18  
Old 10-09-2007, 02:37 PM
chappachula chappachula is offline
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how about avoiding the words jail or prison, but still being truthful?
Tell him "Daddy did some bad things , so a policeman took him to a judge, who decided to punish him, and now he isn't allowed to see you for a while."

For a 6 year old's imagination, the concept of "jail" may be too scary. Maybe he has seen a violent jail movie on TV. Or maybe his teacher has told him that jail is where they send men who we warned you to stay away from (the ones who hang out near the playground and kidnap boys.

Last edited by chappachula; 10-09-2007 at 02:38 PM..
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  #19  
Old 10-09-2007, 02:45 PM
Geek Mecha Geek Mecha is offline
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As long as it's explained properly, thoroughly, and fairly, I do not think children should be protected from truths about their parents. I think 6 is old enough to understand almost anything as long as it's put in the most basic terms, and the child is reassured that he is ok, that the parent/person in question still loves them, and what's happening is not a reflection of them or their actions.

The problems I have with the urge to shield children from this sort of thing is that it preserves an ignorance of facts that can come back to worsen the situation in the future. In past threads, some parents have not told their kids about their father's cheating or their mother's lying out of a genuine desire to "protect" them or to not "harm" that child's relationship with that parent. Then ten years down the line, because the child was kept in the dark about the crappy parent, the kid doesn't understand why there is so much anger and bitterness between his parents and takes sides based on his incorrect perception of the situation. At that point, the non-crappy parent either has to endure the pain of the kid being on the side of the crappy parent, or admit that he has been hiding things from him all these years.

I don't see the point of this. As painful or difficult as it may be to explain the unfortunate truths about irresponsible parents, it's far worse, IMO, to make up and sustain an illusion about such parents.

If you're not sure whether your kid has a concept of something, there's nothing wrong with asking them if they understand and then explaining it carefully if they don't. As smart as they are, kids don't magically develop concepts of things on their own. With difficult things like their parents being in jail, wouldn't it be better to sit the kid down and explain to him where Daddy is and why he's there, than to conceal the truth and possibly not have control over how he finds out about it? It would be a greater shock, IMO, for your son to find out about it when he's 25, or to hear it blurted out at a family gathering next Christmas.

Since his father wants him to know, I would have him write a letter to your son explaining in his own words where he is and why he's there. You can read it with your son, and then be there to answer any questions your son may have. It'll be a lot for him to digest, but I think reading it in his father's own words will help him understand and accept it.

With something like lawbreaking and jail, I think it'll be important to emphasize the difference between Daddy breaking the law and going to jail and him (the child) misbehaving and being punished. After all, the idea behind telling him the truth is not to make him paranoid that he could be taken away if he misbehaves.
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  #20  
Old 10-09-2007, 03:16 PM
TJVM TJVM is offline
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Another vote for telling the kid. I've got a five-year-old, and as a result interact with a lot of other five-year-olds, and I'd say that six is old enough to understand going to jail, at least when it's explained in age-appropriate terms. In fact, my guess it that it will be hard to avoid telling him, if his dad normally has any role in his life. From my own experience, a kid that age has a pretty good sense of when a parent is tap-dancing around something, and it only makes him or her more curious.
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  #21  
Old 10-09-2007, 03:55 PM
ShelliBean ShelliBean is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AudreyK
Since his father wants him to know, I would have him write a letter to your son explaining in his own words where he is and why he's there. You can read it with your son, and then be there to answer any questions your son may have. It'll be a lot for him to digest, but I think reading it in his father's own words will help him understand and accept it.
This is a good idea. Thank you.

ETA - for anyone questioning: this is not a matter of dad wanting one thing and me overruling him. We are putting our cards on the table and trying to make a decision. However, he has given me ultimate veto power since he has shown a remarkable lack of decision making ability in the past.

Last edited by ShelliBean; 10-09-2007 at 03:56 PM..
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  #22  
Old 10-09-2007, 04:07 PM
miamouse miamouse is offline
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I dunno, I guess I'm on the fence about this one. I'd avoid it as much as possible until he asks. Kids have a tendency to surprise you as to what they are ready for or have already perceived. My main concern is that my 7 yo might internalize it as my dad's done something bad-->I'm just like dad-->I'm bad too. He's a little sensitive that way. (I have 3 boys, ages 11, 7 and 8)
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  #23  
Old 10-09-2007, 04:14 PM
WhyNot WhyNot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShelliBean
...since he has shown a remarkable lack of decision making ability in the past.
You don't say.

I also like the idea of him being the one to "tell" your son, with you there for support and hugs and explanations, of course.
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  #24  
Old 10-09-2007, 04:15 PM
Ca3799 Ca3799 is offline
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I think it's important to be truthful. Family secrets tend to make everyone wonky. I vote for truthful on an age appropriate level and I like the idea of having the dad explain via letter.
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  #25  
Old 10-09-2007, 04:19 PM
Eureka Eureka is offline
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I like the letter from dad idea as well. Given dad's history, I think I'd want veto rights on the actual letter (or at least the right to read the letter before I handed it over to the kid), but letting dad's side of the story be the kid's first source of information makes sense to me.
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  #26  
Old 10-09-2007, 05:09 PM
A.R. Cane A.R. Cane is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dangerosa
I'd do the same.

My issue wouldn't be worrying about shades of grey, mine would be the six year old choosing to blab to all his friends and his teacher and everyone else that "My Dad's in jail." Guilt by association is not a good thing for a six year old and my own fear would be that his teachers would treat him differently and that his playdates would dry up. Adults can be real bastards.

So if you do choose to tell him, you may want to let him know that this is something he shouldn't share.
Not only adults, it's the other kids I'd worry about, peer pressure can be very cruel. I do think the boy needs to know though, and the idea of learning about it through a letter from his father sounds like the best way to handle a bad situation. Kids do tend to accept guilt for the actions of their parents and I would suggest that the father's letter include an apology for letting the kid down, a promise not to do it again, and also stressing that the father is responsible and no one else.
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  #27  
Old 05-06-2012, 12:48 AM
kalinomad kalinomad is offline
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Boy am I glad to have found this thread. My six-year old's bio-dad was recently sent to prison with an earliest release date in 10 years' time. It was for sexual abuse of one female victim.

I've been following his lead in terms of the information I provide. So far he knows his dad is away and is unable to come and visit even though he would love to very much. We are receiving letters (which I pre-read) and I have read one to him so far which was thankfully very appropriate.

I know the time is coming up fast though when I will have to tell him more of the truth. I have pre-screened him for his idea of prison and it's not such a bad place in his mind; not fun but you get fed sort of thing. Depending on what his understanding of prison was would have determined to some extent whether or not he would need to visit sooner rather than later.

I also know that once I tell him where his dad is, he'll likely ask why he's there. That's the part I was struggling with. There is no way to explain that appropriately and will be challenging for him to reconcile as he gets older and learns about it. For now, I like the idea of telling him that his dad committed an adult crime and has to spend a long time making up for that.

What I really don't want is my son thinking that if he does something bad, that he could go to prison for it. I have to figure out how to make the distinction for him. The word "adult" might be the key.

The idea of visiting is horrible to me right now. My son's dad is pushing for a visit but this is not about him and what would make him feel better. It's about carefully helping my son navigate this difficult live event. This sucks.
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  #28  
Old 05-06-2012, 01:41 AM
zoid zoid is online now
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Verry sorry to hear about your situation.
Don't feel bad if the folks who posted before don't respond, it's been 5 years and many of them may not be with us any more.

All I can say is that you need to do what is best for your child. I would personally go with something like "Daddy can't be with us now", that's about the level of understanding a 6 year old has.

I personally would not say anything negative to your child about the father. At 6 they're just not ready and frankly if he really is a jackass your child will figure it out.

I'm really sorry you're in a bad place right now; You're not alone, reach out to friends and family for help.
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  #29  
Old 05-06-2012, 01:44 AM
manila manila is offline
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A friend of mine was banged up for five years for drugs offences. Surprised the Hell out of the rest of us. But absolutely mortified his 6 year old son who was subject to all typical school bullying about his bad dad in the papers and in gaol and that was where he would end up too.

Poor little guy lost weight, lost confidence, regressed back to bed wetting and had a pretty traumatic time of it. Had to change schools at the end.

He didn't need to pay for his stupid father's crimes. I tend to agree with your own maternal gut feeling. He doesn't need to know at this time
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  #30  
Old 05-06-2012, 04:37 AM
casdave casdave is offline
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You also need to remember that he will probably talk to his friends - and if he mentions it then the other parents can be very strange indeed.
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  #31  
Old 05-06-2012, 05:47 AM
Broomstick Broomstick is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShelliBean View Post
My ex-husband is in jail. I do not know for how long. As soon as he is released he will probably be picked up by the next county. So, if you were me would you tell your six year old son that his father is in jail?
It is, of course, your call... but when are you planning to tell him? It sounds like dad may be in jail a long, long time. Sooner or later, if you don't tell him someone else will. Maybe someone already has.

The advantage to YOU doing it is that you have some control over how he finds out and you can offer support and so on. The downside is that it can be hard for adults to deal with "my dad is in jail", much less a six year old.

Do you prefer he find out from you, in a manner you can control, or though the grapevine via who knows what kind of rumors?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ShelliBean View Post
Interesting. I was dead set against telling him but now am rethinking my decision. Good points made by all. I'm not the type of parent that normally lies to my kid but this one has me all twisted up. He loves his dad. He looks up to his dad. When it boils down to it I guess I don't want to be the one to tell him his dad isn't a superhero. I don't want to see that crushed look on his little face. Damn damn damn.
This is a time to introduce notions like "even good people make mistakes". Sometimes, it's a really bad mistake, but that doesn't make them bad people, it makes them a person who did something bad. It's OK and proper to love a family member who does something wrong, even if what he did wasn't OK.

Also agree that you should tell him that this is not something to share with others. It's a family thing. And if he has questions or wants to talk about it he should come to you.

If he can keep in contact with his dad via letters or even a visit that would probably be good for BOTH of them, you know.
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  #32  
Old 05-06-2012, 05:52 AM
Ibanez Ibanez is offline
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I was 7 when my mom told me "daddy isn't coming back for awhile." Even when I went to visit him in prison I didn't figure out what prison was. It was never explained to me and fucked with my head looking back. Explain to him what prison is, and that his father isn't a bad man, just made some poor choices.
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  #33  
Old 05-06-2012, 06:20 AM
highrollinwooded highrollinwooded is offline
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Be honest with the kid. It seems obvious that this is probably gonna be a lifelong pattern for this guy, so why not set it straight with the child now, so he doesn't grow to idolize this scumbag by deceiving him about the truth of his lifestyle. My daughters father was/is the same....IMo it is better to lay it out there now, instead of making excuses and covering up for his behavior for the kids lifetime. That way he will know what to expect, and not be continuously disappointed by his "absenses". Sad, but true...........
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  #34  
Old 05-06-2012, 07:17 AM
FairyChatMom FairyChatMom is offline
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Yoiks - I didn't realize this was resurrected. Never mind.

Last edited by FairyChatMom; 05-06-2012 at 07:19 AM..
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  #35  
Old 05-06-2012, 07:29 AM
eclectic wench eclectic wench is offline
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I know it's a zombie, but for Kalinomad:

I would definitely tell the kid. Remember, as far as little kids are concerned, their parents are all-powerful - so if Dad's simply not around, then the kid will assume that it's because he doesn't want to be, and that's pretty hurtful. If he knows that Daddy hurt someone, so he has to go to the grownup version of the thinking corner (or whatever you guys have), then it means that Daddy's away because he has to be, not because he wants to be.

It also makes it clear that jail is for grownups, not kids, so he won't worry about going there if he throws food or whatever.

As far as the specific crime goes, I'd be saying 'Daddy hurt someone' and refusing to go into details. I'd also be explaining that this is nobody's business except the family's. Six is plenty old enough to understand basic privacy.
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  #36  
Old 05-06-2012, 02:15 PM
handsomeharry handsomeharry is offline
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Originally Posted by WhyNot View Post
You don't say.

I also like the idea of him being the one to "tell" your son, with you there for support and hugs and explanations, of course.
I am against this 100%. "Hey, we're going to see daddy! Yay!"
"UH, why is he being pepper sprayed by those men in the Cool Uniforms?"
etc...etc....

Just tell the kid. IIRC, my father was in jail for DUI when I was about that age. That didn't traumatize me. (His other antics were what did it!)
I can only wonder how many of son's cohorts are in the same situation!

Good luck on this one.
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  #37  
Old 05-06-2012, 02:20 PM
Feyrat Feyrat is offline
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Originally Posted by rpinrd View Post
I think you should absolutely tell your son. Six years old is plenty old enough to understand the truth about a parent. The child needs to know what to expect from his father, even if, unfortunately, the reality is that dad's in jail and won't be out for a while. If you say that dad's on "a special job" now, eventually (likely in the next 2-4 years) the kid will know the truth and will know you lied.

I think the best course is to be truthful, but don't editorialize. You can say "Dad is in jail and will not be able to see you for a while." I wouldn't say "You dad is thieving scumbag and if you're lucky you won't grow up like him or ever see him again." If you want and can take your son to go visit dad, tell him that. If you know how long you ex's sentence is, tell you son that by tying it to some future date he'll understand. "I think that Dad won't be able to visit you until after Christmas" or whatever.
This is pretty much the advice I would give. 6 is old enough to start to absorb some big truths. And children do remember and resent lies told to them, even if those lies are meant to be harmless or protective.
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  #38  
Old 05-06-2012, 02:22 PM
handsomeharry handsomeharry is offline
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nemmine,
just saw the zombie.
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  #39  
Old 05-06-2012, 02:26 PM
PandaBear77 PandaBear77 is offline
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I grew up with my father completely out of my life. We did hear news about him from other relatives, though - he was in and out of jail a lot.

There was NFW I was telling *anyone* that my dad was in prison. I'm not sure where some of you are getting the idea that kids tend to blab stuff like that. Why not just go to school wearing a sign that says "judge me?"
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  #40  
Old 05-06-2012, 02:44 PM
Maastricht Maastricht is offline
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Originally Posted by kalinomad View Post
The idea of visiting is horrible to me right now. My son's dad is pushing for a visit but this is not about him and what would make him feel better.
Does the prison offer any possibility of making a video call?
Also, whenever a kid goes to school or to a hospital, there are all these books you can read so the kid will know what to expect. I wondered if there was anything of that kind for kids. And there is! Here's a book for the 5-8 year olds. The author also has a book to facilitate the " talk" saying there are 1 in every fifty kids who have a parent in jail. I think kids have a really bad image for a jail from all the action movies, dungeons and other sorts of tv drama. They might benefit from an realistic image of what every day life in jail is.

Last edited by Maastricht; 05-06-2012 at 02:48 PM..
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  #41  
Old 05-06-2012, 02:52 PM
Maastricht Maastricht is offline
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Maybe these folks have some pointers?
Quote:
Richard W. Dyches, Ph.D., is the co-founder of Children Left Behind, Inc., a non-profit organization that advocates for children who are the forgotten victims of trauma due to the incarceration, death, abuse or rehab of their parents. He is also a former psychologist, university professor and a survivor of sexual assault. He devotes his time to writing educational materials for adults and young children who are survivors and dealing with the aftermath of major traumas and also material for learners in non-traditional environments. He has been a frequent lecturer at national and international workshops and conferences.
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  #42  
Old 08-02-2012, 03:01 PM
ShelliBean ShelliBean is offline
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Would you believe that I never saw that this was resurrected? And that the reason I found it was a Google search about talking to your kids about dad being in jail? My, my, some things never change.

It seems that kalinomad never returned but I figured I would update anyway. I ended up taking the chicken shit way out and didn't tell him at the time. Well, when his dad got out my son spent the weekend with him (at the grandmother's house). Of course my ex told him where he had been. I was then branded a liar and and had to rebuild some trust with my son. I decided then I would never lie to my son again. Temper the truth to his age level, yes, but not lie. Any time dad didn't show up or quit calling or disappeared I would just say "I am very sorry. I do not know where your father is. I know he loves you, and he just isn't in a place to be able to be the kind of dad he really wants to be for you." Or some variation of it.

After this last time, he seemed to have straightened himself out and had been holding down a job for almost a year, had a place close to his mom's and had a car. He even threw $50 my way every once in a while. Apparently he still had a suspended license. He was pulled over for a tail light. He had a bench warrant because during his last stint in rehab he left with six days to go (out of six months). The last time I was at his house I saw an empty beer bottle (I stayed for the entire 45 minute visit). He's back in jail.

This time I did not mince words. I said "I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but you won't be seeing your father this weekend. He still hasn't finished straightening out the trouble he got into a few years ago and he will be in jail for at least two weeks waiting for court." My son and I talked. He was bummed but not crushed. I mean, how seriously crushed can you get over a guy that has practically made a job out of disappointing you?

At the end, when the mood was fairly light, I said "And remember this if you ever think about drinking and driving. A DUI can make a problem for your for a very, very long time." "What do you mean drinking and driving? Dad said he had a speeding ticket he didn't pay and it started all this."

You know, I talked to my son several times about this when it happened, but I guess I didn't sit down and go over exactly, step-by-step, what had gone on. My son is a very literal person. I cannot use words like "trouble" with him. I have to restate it - your dad hasn't finished paying for his multiple DUIs. I sat him down and said "I don't want to overwhelm you or hurt your feelings about your dad, but I want to tell you everything." And I did. And he was fine.
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  #43  
Old 08-02-2012, 03:26 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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Is he out yet?
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  #44  
Old 08-02-2012, 03:46 PM
ShelliBean ShelliBean is offline
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No, he will be there another couple weeks. He has been out for quite a while before this, with stints in rehab/psych.

It's sad, really. He was a pretty normal guy just working a good, lifelong job and contributing to society and we got married and had a kid and then one day he started drinking and he has morphed into something I don't even recognize anymore.
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  #45  
Old 08-02-2012, 03:55 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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That sucks. I've seen that happen to people. Some people just can't drink, ever. Maybe he'll get old enough to stay out of trouble even if doesn't stay sober. I hope things work out somehow in the end. I know it's been rough you, but it could really be hurting your son more than it seems. I have to add something to another thread where I talk about a screwed up friend. I learned not long ago that his father committed suicide when he was young, and I can see all the results of him not growing up with a father, and basically a basket case for a mother. You seem to be strong enough to deal with this and provide the parenting your son needs. Do you have family helping out? I think strong family relationships are a good way to deal with a parent who's not in the picture.
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  #46  
Old 08-02-2012, 04:36 PM
ShelliBean ShelliBean is offline
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Oh yeah - I am remarried and his step dad is pretty awesome. He's very good at being "dad-ish" while supporting the boy in communicating with his father. There's also my dad and brother, who live a couple hours away but have been there in the past to do some "dad" stuff and celebrate the victories and such.

I do think it bothers him a little more than he lets on, but over the years I've consulted teachers, counselors and pediatricians who all declare in one way or another that he seems pretty well adjusted, not even considering the circumstances. After the original incident that prompted this thread we adopted an "honestly only" policy and it has to go both ways. He has to tell me if he's sad and doesn't want to talk about it right now (instead of clamming up or refusing to talk to me), and in turn I have to respect that and find a way to discuss it with him later and just give him time. We've also made the decision (well, I guess I made it for him early on) that being the kid without a dad (da da daaaaaaa!!!) would not define him his whole life and we just needed to get used to the fact that dad wasn't around sometimes and it wasn't anyone's fault but dad's.

I feel like I am leaving a bunch out and making myself sound a hell of a lot more stoic and halo'd than I am.
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