Thursday, February 11, 2010

#18 What can a mother do when he is in prison (Retro)

What can a mother do when he is in prison?

This is a pretty strong title, because there implies that either there is nothing a mother can do, or something a mother can do, when her son or daughter is sent to prison. I want to explore that in a minute, to see what we can do to help some of you.

First, as I have been doing lately, I am still offering the free prison encouragement certificate to anyone who wants one. My deadline is probably Feb. 1 because I want to be able to send them out in time for you to receive them, and to also in turn send them to your loved one in prison. That gives my plenty of time to get it to you, and time for you to get it to them. You can email me at derf4000 (at) embarqmail (dot) com to ask about it.

Also, I thank those who support my blogs because it allows me every once and awhile to do something like this. It does not cost money to blog, but to make it a priority does take a lot of effort. You’ll notice I write a lot…that isn’t by accident. There is so much to be said about prison issues, and I have not even scratched the surface. But to do that, it always helps when somebody believes in me enough to send a gift. Or if you prefer, buy one of my books or some cards. Email me and I will be glad to tell you about them.

Now, let’s talk about the title.

Even though the title indicates “mom” and “son”, I use that in a general sense, because we know there are daughters in prison too. And I even extend that to wives with husbands in prison, or girlfriends with boyfriends in prison. One thing is certain, there are many males in prison than females, which is why prison sites are full of moms and girlfriends and wives. There are even sites dedicated for mothers who have a son in prison.

I want to talk about what a mom can do when her son goes to prison, but keep in mind you can easily substitute your loved one if he or she is not in my title. This is based on a couple of emails I received recently from new and current readers that seem to be having a hard time dealing with this.

That is very understandable.

But what I want to attempt to do is to curve that depression and give you something positive to sleep on. Now, I can’t MAKE you change, that is on you, but the best I can do is set the table, so to speak.

First off know this…I have been there. I have done time. That means when I talk about prison issues, it is because I have been there, not somebody who read about it, not a person who happened to know somebody. I have been there. I know what it is like to feel and be condemned. I know what it is like to have guilt and stress and disappointment so extreme that the very life you live isn’t worth two cents. I know what it’s like to live day after day in a prison surrounded by other fallen men. I have been there.

So listen carefully to what I am saying to you right now…

Your son can get through this.

But YOU have to as well.

There seems to be some instinct that kicks in when a mom loses her son to prison, putting her “protection gauge” in overdrive. She wants so much to help her son, she wants to assure him that he will be ok…but she has absolutely no control over his life now, it belongs to the prison system.

Her baby has been taken from her, and it is the worst feeling in the world. What’s a mom to do?

There is no one answer here, because every mom is different, but somewhere down the line she has do begin the process of encouragement and empowerment. This is what moms are best at anyway, being able to encourage a child and to give him strength. But at the point that he has been taken from you, a mom can feel absolutely powerless and DIScouraged.

We’ve got to put that back in you, because down the road, it will be invaluable.

Before we get there, we have to address something that can strongly hinder this from happening…forgiveness.

I wrote a blog awhile back about inmates and forgiveness, and I noted different points that are important. Those points are a little different for a mom, but that does not change that fact a mom must find forgiveness because it brings about closure to condemnation.

Now note that I am not saying for a mom to approve of what her son did, that is not what I said at all. I am saying that a mom has to search herself and declare to herself that her son may have done wrong, but that person is still her son, and she loves him more than anything.

“Why is that important? I know I love my son”

Well the thing about that is that a lot of people SAY that, but what they are doing is assuming that they still love him. Are you SURE that you still love your son… or are you disappointed in him.

“Can’t a mom be both loving and disappointed”?

Disappoint: “to fail to do or be equal to what was hoped or desired or expected”

Is your son a failure?

That must be answered before you can truly move forward…is YOUR son a failure?

If you believe that he is…then you can’t help him anymore, because you have condemned him. There is little love in that.

“But he’s in prison! Isn’t that failure?”

No it is not. Failure is when a person gives up entirely on life…correct me if I am wrong, does he not still draw breath? If so, then there is ALWAYS a chance for things to change for the better.

For every mom out there, this is critical before you can begin to help your son and to help yourself get through this. Your ability to forgive your son will have a dramatic impact on how you focus on the coming days, and whether you will be able to be a strong force in his life again, or just a fading sobing parent wondering where they went wrong.

If I could look you in your face at this very moment, as if you are looking at these very words, I would say this to you…”don’t give up”. And I would say it with the deepest love I could muster, because I believe in what I am saying to you.

Take time to let the entire situation sink in, because it can be traumatic for some, but during that time, determine for sure if you still love that son of your, and if you forgive him of what happened (if it was his fault…courts are not perfect you know). Once you determine that, then make closure in your heart and mind that regardless of what comes, you are going to do what you can to help your son in prison. When you KNOW that you KNOW, then there is confidence and a clear conscience. You’re gonna need that before you can encourage and empower that son in prison.

If you can get through that stage, we can talk about encouraging him. To encourage is to give hope and confidence to….you see why it is important for you to be very clear as to how you see your son. You can’t give hope or confidence if you don’t have it yourself. I can’t give you hope or confidence if I don’t have it, but if I am sitting here trying to give that to you, then it means I have it. And if I have it, I WANT to give it to you so you can GIVE it to your son.

You understand what I am trying to do here?

You have to get to the point of encouraging your son…but encouraging him of what? To just “hang in there”, or something generic? No, it goes much deeper than that. What do you want your son to have hope for? What do you want him to be confident in? If you are at a lack of ideas, here is one: To be confident that YOU will be fine. See folks, inmates live in a 24 hour world of condemnation, guilt, anger, depression and stress. The last thing they need is to hear that the people they love are suffering, and there is nothing they can do about it.

This is why I encourage people with loved ones in prison to exercise, and to take care of their body…but ironically many people are just the opposite…their bodies break down because of extreme stress, many go into taking pills and going to the doctor more than they used to. The stress of a loved one in prison is slowly killing them.

To every person reading this, I ask you as humbly as I can…will that help your loved one in prison?

I urge you to take excellent care of your body, so that you are in good health. Your son does not need to hear that his mom had to go to the hospital because of stress…how do you think he is going to take it. There is no form of encouragement in that. Your mission as a mom is to give your son in prison something to hope for, and something to be confident in. He needs to believe that his mother will be fine, as long as he can do that time. That takes a huge load off his back when he KNOWS that mom will be fine. Believe me folks, that means so much more than you can imagine.

But more than confidence in that, give him something to believe in, to hope for. This is also where we miss it so much, because in short, we don’t believe things can get better. We think that once that son goes in prison, that’s that, and you won’t see him free until the appointed time.

But here is something very few people will be able to receive…

(sometimes there are miracles that happen in prison)

Most people won’t be able to receive that message, because most have not found hope for a loved one, so I will move on…

A mother with a son in prison has to find something to believe in, so that she may share it with her son. Sometimes we live for the future, because we believe that even though things might be rough now, it can get better. If you can instill something for that son to hold on to, you give him hope. Hope for what? Whatever it is you and he are believing for.

And that brings in a whole different subject of faith which I will have to touch on anther time, because there are some who cannot receive that at this moment. So let’s go to the other element a mom needs to do for her son, which is empower.

To empower means to give power or authority to…now that’s a strange one isn’t it? How on earth can a mom give POWER, or even AUTHORITY to a son in prison? Well, look at it this way, to be empowered means to have a bold confidence in one’s self, a strong belief of one’s ability and identity. This goes back to the idea of forgiving your son folks, because if you have settled in your mind that he is your son, and you love him and you are going to help him, then he in turn will be empowered to KNOW that he is still you son… not some person who’s mom has given up on him.

You see the difference?

When a son believes that his mom loves him, there is a sense of empowerment where he can be proud of his mom, and also humbled that as he has fallen, she has not let him go. Did you let your son go? Did you release his hand when he fell into the prison system, and resigned to pray and pray and pray about what went wrong? Or did you hold fast to you son, being the strongest point of his life in the lowest times of his life?

It takes power to do that folks, and authority to say, “that’s MY son, and I will not let him fall alone. I cannot let my son believe for ONE SECOND that I have abandoned him”.

That’s strong talk folks, but one that is filled with love. And this same kinda talk is filled with a power of mothership that few can understand, save God alone. It is also the authority of that mom to know what is hers. Prison may have taken your son, but he is still yours. No prison can make you forget your son, or to turn your back on him…that is your decision.

When you are empowered with such abilities, you can also give those same things to your son. When an inmate asks me to write a poem for his mom, or when they hustle for new clothes so they can look neat when you come to visit, it is because they are filled with authority…”that is MY mom”, they will say to other inmates. Why? Because they know you love them, and that empowers them to believe that they are not alone in this world.

Wow, I could go on and on with this folks, we have not even touched the tip about what you mean to them, but this is where is starts. No need talking 15 pages until you are able to receive the first 5. Look, I know it isn’t easy, and you may feel very down now, but I ask you to take time to consider what I am sharing. You CAN get through this, and if you want to help your son, you MUST. It may not be easy at first, but you can do this.

Don’t give up ok? If you got to, email me. Or jump back and read my blogs. But don’t give up.

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