Our last entry found us discussing the unhealthy but normal emotion; resentment, that stems from a loved one continually hurting us, or letting us down. This blog tries to engage with those who have a loved one that is incarcerated so it is from this perspective I will follow up.
After the initial shock of arrest has passed we delve into fear and worry. Whether you are a mother or father, a husband or wife, a child or sibling, we all experience a great sense of loss. Fear of the unknown for both the offender and the loved one(s) left behind can become overwhelming. Waiting for court dates to come around creates a multitude of anxieties.
Single mothers left to fend for themselves can create yet another circumstance where the other parent gets caught up in the criminal justice system trying to survive. Now both parents are in jail and the child or children are wards of the state. Countless grandparents in the US alone are now raising their grandchildren because both parents are incarcerated. This burden on the aging grandparents can cause financial crisis and health related problems stemming from stress.
Yet in all these things, at the end of the day, the loved one(s) left behind find themselves facing yet another perplexing and even more nagging emotion . . . guilt. We all face the same question inevitably, “What more could I have done to keep this from happening?” Looking into the little faces of children left behind is heartbreaking.
Many times, probably more often than not, grandparents over compensate for the failed parenting of their own child. The children may suffer what is called Reactive Attachment Disorder, or (RAD). This is where the person experiencing the symptoms of RAD has difficulty responding to social interactions in an appropriate manner. There are other symptoms and two distinguishable types within the disorder, but that isn’t what this blog is covering. Nevertheless, when a grandparent over compensates with a child under normal conditions, ie; (both parents are not incarcerated), this produces a spoiled child and creates problems of its own. But, when a child suffering from RAD is exposed to over compensation by caregivers, in my opinion, it compounds the problem. I admit, I am not a licensed therapist, just an individual with first hand experience. (If you think your child is suffering any developmental or psychological disorders, seek professional help at once.)
All I am saying is, what the child really wants, (in my opinion), is to know and understand why his or her parents have left them behind. The child will fixate on the parent it gets it’s identity from until that question is answered. Again I am not a therapist, just first hand experience is where I am coming from.
When guilt sets in and takes control, all decisions are based from this emotion rather than from an objective viewpoint. From what I have seen, overcompensation masks the greater underlying insecurities the child is experiencing. The child may delve further into depression and act out even more, which doesn’t make you feel any better. The more he or she acts out, the more guilty you feel. For at least some of you I know this cycle sounds familiar.
Would you like to know what I have found that works? Prayer, and a lot of it. Prayer that the the incarcerated be restored wholly, spirit, soul and body. I have seen this work first hand. Prayer did what nothing else could. Prayer took the drugs out of wanting hands. Prayer replaced dysfunction with normalcy. Prayer brought families back together. Prayer brought a forty year old man with a twenty seven year old severe drug addiction home. Prayer gave that man a new purpose in life and restored all that was lost. Prayer softened that man’s heart and set him free to love and to be loved. That man is me.
When we give our problems to God we don’t have to carry around all that guilt. We can be confident that our God is working out all things for the better for our good. Say goodbye to guilt and hello to the prayer granter. His name is Jesus. Jesus said in (John 16:24, “Until now you have asked nothing in My Name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” NKJV). Give Jesus a chance to restore your family and remove your guilt. Let Him carry your burdens, He is strong enough, you can’t do it all on your own. Until next time, may the Lord richly bless you in all things, in Jesus Name. Amen.