P.O. Box 924 Streamwood, Il. 60107 connect@buildingfamiliestogether.org 630.465.4268

Help for Fathers

Fathers Role Diminishes

The issue of fathers in custody raises many questions about the roles and duties usually performed by a father. Many of us normally ask whether these roles diminish by the time they are coming back home or whether they were resilient enough to retain them, considering the cruelties of life behind bars. During the actual incarceration, the prison/jail may have areas reserved for family visits, such as the rooms that could facilitate parent-child activities. These are often parts of the concerted efforts to ensure that they remain in touch with their familial roles but whether this purpose is often met is a question open for debate.


During family reunification, fathers and their spouses express a desire to better themselves as a family unit. This desire can be supported by Building Families Together or other interventions specifically aimed at improving their parenting practices. As we know parental roles have undergone significant transformations over the last three decades. Contrary to this generally favorable notion of a father’s commitment it is important to understand the social changes that affect married life and have led to a diversification of the family structures. 

7 Things a Father Returning Home Needs to Know

Programs for Family

Locally and nationally there are relatively unknown, number of programs for families whose lives have been disrupted by incarceration. However, many father’s coming home still find it difficult to find these programs or know how to attend these programs. We do know that many of these services promote social reintegration and reduce the risk of returning citizens re-offending. Services help ensure a harmonious transition from the life behind bars to freedom.

 Redefine Relationships with Children

The main challenge is to redefine the relationship between the child and father. Months or years have passed; some have learned to do without their fathers, so reunification requires an entire process of clarification, negotiations, adjustments and compromises. It is not unusual to find that the children may feel detached from the father. If prisons/jails have implemented parenting programs the father coming home will understand how to cope with these inevitable acts of coldness from a child who should be delighted to have him back. If the father has not taken these classes the father may be unable to cope properly with these changes. Please reach out to Building Families Together if you or your child need help readjusting.

 Family Support

The emotion of the father coming home is real but restrained and modest. Their children help them to assume their responsibility. The child brings freshness, a breath of fresh air; children breaks the image of the prison. We can see that fathers and children can support each other, reassure each other and depending on the age of the children, they could also act as breadwinners as their father tries to get back into the family structure and prepares to assume his role of providing for his family.

Getting help

In all cases, it should be remembered that various agencies should be informed of the end of the father’s detention. This is so support and resources available to them as they are released. If this is not done it will be extremely difficult for them to find the assistance needed within a short amount of time.

 Enjoy Life

Fathers coming home should have fun and enjoy life. It can be difficult at first, but laughing will help to take your mind off your problems, at least for a while. Spending time with friends and family. Play games, go for walks or watch a movie. This means they need not be put under pressure to get back to their fatherly or husband role and instead start by addressing their emotional and social needs.

 Take Care of Yourself

Take care of your own needs. If you have the means, talk to a therapist about your problems and listen to their advice. Define a healthy pattern in your life to keep your morale and energy levels up. Adopt an exercise program, eat healthy meals and set a regular sleep schedule. An established diet will help you maintain your strength and focus during a challenging time.

 Openness to Paradoxical Effects

The relatives of the incarcerated have the possibility of correspondence with their loved ones by mail or Jay Pay. Since 1974, they are no longer limited in length and frequency. Their censorship is now less and their control random, even if the mails are systematically open. If families cannot call their loved ones, the 2009 Penitentiary Law has extended the right to telephone all prisoners. The logic of openness towards the relatives of detainees is, however, accompanied by paradoxical effects. The association between reintegration and family links mitigates the responsibility of prison institutions for the preparation and “success” or otherwise of the release of prisoners and tends to empower families.


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