The most important thing incarcerated inmates can do to rebuild broken family relationships is to tell their children the truth.
“Tell them your hidden feelings for them. The feelings you don’t share with anyone. Tell them the truth about fear. Their deepest fears include not knowing when you are going to come home,” said Linda Conklin, guest facilitator at a family reunification workshop.
Runs a School
The August workshop was sponsored by T.R.U.S.T., an acronym for Teaching Responsibility Utilizing Sociological Training.
The event featured T.R.U.S.T. graduates from previous workshops, including Kevin Penn, a soon-to-be-paroled prisoner. He reported his participation in T.R.U.S.T. beginning in 2005 was the start of his San Quentin rehabilitation experience.
Conklin talked about her experiences in family reunification for families of the incarcerated. She works in the community and runs a private school for children of incarcerated parents. She told numerous heart-wrenching stories about how children deal with their separations. She told us what the kids want to hear from incarcerated parents is the straight truth.
The Lesson Plan
Some of the issues discussed as a group included the importance of allowing children to tell a parent how they have frightened them, hurt them and disappointed them. This should be done without the parent defending himself or herself.
Conklin asked participants if they have forgiven their parents, and how they accomplish that task. If not, she asked, were they willing to consider the importance of forgiveness in order to begin their own healing? She also asked why is it important to communicate with children, even if they don’t respond?
The lesson plan for this workshop included a planning note to the facilitator stating: “Bring Kleenex.” This proved to be true as the workshop brought participants to some deep places where the tears came easily to the surface.