3year old son having a hard time w/separation of my husband and I - Mothering Forums

View Poll Results: Husband is in jail and three year old is going through a hard time.
Continue taking him to see his dad 2 28.57%
Discontinue the visits at jail 0 0%
tell him he is in jail and won't be coming home 1 14.29%
take him to counseling. 4 57.14%
Voters: 7. You may not vote on this poll

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#1 of 8 Old 04-05-2004, 11:43 AM - Thread Starter
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My husband of five years has become incarcerated and won't be free for at least three years. I have decided not to continue with the relationship at this point. We have a three year old son together and he has really been acting out with anger and not listening. I try to keep him occupied and have taken him to see his dad twice. But both times he has visited, he ends up not sleeping and having bad dreams when he does. He misses his dad terribly maybe I shouldn't take him to see him, I don't know what to do. He is a good father and our son loves him to death but I can't even bring myself to tell him that his dad is in jail, he thinks it is a special hospital that he can only see him through glass and talk on the phone. What do I do?:
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#2 of 8 Old 04-05-2004, 12:14 PM
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If he is a good dad and this is not related to violence or mistreatment of you or child, then I think you should try to allow visits. Tell the truth: Daddy did a bad thing and he is in trouble. Jail is a very serious kind of time-out for grown-ups. Hopefully you can add that Daddy is very sorry and won't do it again. Just because you don't want the relationship for yourself doesn't mean your son has to completely lose his dad. He's too little to really understand how long three years is, but tell him anyway. Maybe someone (therapist?) could help him deal with this. I would not lie and call it a hospital. And it is traumatic for all of you- I'd expect your son to be a bit out of sorts regardless of what you do. ((hugs))
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#3 of 8 Old 04-05-2004, 12:21 PM - Thread Starter
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thank you, I haven't ever had to go through this before so I don't know what to do. I have mixed feelings about our separation because I have given so much of my heart to him. He has been abusive to me in the past. but not within the last two years. he has a drinking problem but did quit about two years ago. he just can't seem to hold down a job or stop taking money from others.
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#4 of 8 Old 04-05-2004, 04:07 PM
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Wow! This is big stuff, and my heart goes out to you. It's so hard to comment on someone else's life, even when it's a good friend, and I don't know you...so I didn't click a poll choice.

Are there any support groups in your area or nationally that might be able to point you to resources for you and your son? There may be groups for kids to talk about their feelings, or play therapy that may help.

I don't know enough about your husband and your family to presume to say if visits should continue, but if he really has been a good dad I would be reluctant to make a snap decision. Definitely the hospital explanation will have to go. I like the idea of an 'extended time-out' for grown-ups. It would give your son something concrete to try to understand. I think part of the problem with the hospital explanation is that it's so vague - it may be its vagueness is especially scary in fact. If he gets a cold, will he go to a hospital for an indefinite time like daddy, for example? Explaining that there are special rules for how we treat other people called laws, and that when we break a law by hurting someone else/stealing/etc grownups need to go away to think about what they have done may make it less scary. Right now, it is probably just all about inexplicable loss for him, so maybe that would help.

Can you go to the jail on your own to talk to your son's dad about the problems your child together has been experiencing, and work out a way to deal with it together? If you both speak about it the same way, it may help. Your son probably needs to know that his dad did not leave him on purpose and that he is there because he made a mistake, and is sorry.

Keep in mind that even if you hit on the right explanation and work together with your son's dad on this, you'll have to repeat it and reassure your son lots and lots - even when you think he 'gets' it, he'll still come back to the same issues over and over. Just stay consistent and reassuring.

Oh, and also, do reassure him that mommy isn't going anywhere! You can explain that daddy's problems are because of daddy's behaviour. It's very sad that daddy has had these problems with his behaviour, but mommy does not have the same problems and will always be there. I can see that being a big fear!
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#5 of 8 Old 04-05-2004, 06:38 PM
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I agree with the others about being honest with your child. Being 3, he has no idea what jail is, he has no judgements about them one way or another, so you might as well give him accurate information.

I also like the idea of a time-out for adults. I would not qualify what he's done though, I'd just say that there are rules adults must follow in our society and when they break the rules there are consequences.

I would think that your son needs to express what he's feeling in a safe way. There may be some counsellors who could give some advice about how to make the visits easier for your son.

I hope you find some peace for this difficult transition for your child.
~ L.J.
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#6 of 8 Old 04-05-2004, 07:14 PM
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Kudos to you for doing the best that you can with a most difficult situation. By being pro-active and deciding to move on with your life, you are modeling such positive behaviors for your son!

I agree with the others: honesty is the best approach (within age appropriate guidelines), and counseling would be a big help. From personal experience, I have found that it is difficult to find play therapists for very young children, but keep trying - there is someone out there who can help you.

As well, I would suggest that you find some type of single moms - partners of incarcerated support group. Try contacting your local social services agency - they should have referrals.

Good luck to you!

Tabitha ~ devoted wife to my best friend Stephen ribbonyellow.gif and gentle Christian mom to six DSs: notes.gif E - 2/09/00REPlaySkateboard04HL.gifA - 3/05/03superhero.gifA- 6/05/06 guitar.gif H- 2/07/08 jog.gif J - 11/14/10 bouncy.gif T - 8/23/12 + stork-suprise.gif due 9/20/14!  brokenheart.gif DD Janae 10/19/09 angel2.gif
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#7 of 8 Old 04-05-2004, 08:10 PM
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I'd be honest. Counseling is a good idea too. I don't think I'd do jail visitations. I've been to see someone a couple of times and it was a scary thing, even as an adult. I can only imagine what a child might feel.

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#8 of 8 Old 04-06-2004, 01:30 AM
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I voted for counseling. I recently started taking my older 2 girls (they are 10 & 4 yrs) and it's been very helpful already. With the younger ones, it's more about play and art therapy. Getting them to express themselves and offering ideas for you to help them with.

I have been in that situation myself with my first husband. I left due to his drug habit and he ended up in jail about 9 months later. My daughter was 2 at the time and I did not bring her for visits. He hadn't been seeing her regularly before that so I just said that he'd moved to Florida, where his mother lives. After he left jail, he did move to Florida for a year, so it wasn't a total lie. I don't know if that was the best solution but just what I decided on at that time. I did visit him a few times and he really looked horrible. I think it would have scared her to see him like that. I know it was upsetting to me to see him in jail and the condition he was in at that time.

He's recently found himself in some trouble again and may be facing more jail time. My oldest dd is 10 now (my younger 2 children are with my second DH, who I'm recently separated from), so this will be a different ball game if he does go away, since he's back in the area and she sees him regularly. I plan on getting a lot of advice from her counselor, when and if he does have to serve time, since I don't feel that lying to her is the way to go, esp at her age since she does understand what jail is.

Good luck to you. I hope that you can find a solution for you and your son.

Stephanie, mom to 3 big girls ('94, '99 & '02) and to my little guy (12/30/09) intact & CD'ed!
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