Category: For Children

Tips-Incarcerated Father

Cover Image for Incarcerated Father Blog Post

Whenever a father is taken into custody, it’s the child who suffers the most. There are many studies about incarcerated fathers and the issues children face when dad is no longer in the home. Childhood is a crucial period of learning, bonding and creating. Trauma due to the father’s arrest and incarceration can lead to unhealthy habits. Children look up to their fathers. When he isn’t around, we find that the child can be easily be led to unhealthy behavior. As a result, we at Building Families Together, believe that a father’s absence can deprive children of many positive life lessons.

The responsibility for a child’s growth and development is passed to the family and teachers. We feel that special attention is required in order for a child to be on the positive side of society. In fact, many of the posts in our blog focus on these kinds of issues. In this post, we will examine how family and teachers can work together to raise a child with an incarcerated father.

Photo collage of kids at school and play

The Family and Teachers Must Communicate

Communication between the family and teachers or at least one school official e.g. counselor, social worker, principal, or vice principal is a must. It is important to know how the child behaves at both home and school to understand the child’s struggles and emotional needs. The child will need a great deal of attention and both groups can support each other positively.

Simple Actions Teachers Can Take

Schools can offer a lot to a child with an incarcerated parent, here are some things teachers can do:

  • Praise little things such asthe completion of an assignments and can offer books to help with personal development.
  • Keep tabs on the child in a protective way, for example, if the child is being bullied in school,a teacher can take the correct action to prevent bullying.
  • Create a good positive and supportive environment for a child will help them to cope, learn and grow.

Photo collage of teachers

Adults Must Think Before Speaking

Any responsible adult must think about their use of words in the presence of a child. Things not meant intentionally can hurt a child’s feeling during these hard times. Instead, use positive words to encourage and boost the child’s self-esteem.

Education and Extracurricular Activities Help

Education is and has always been a help for a child’s cognitive growth. Reading positive books about inspiring gurus like Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Muhammad Ali can help broaden a child’s perspective and help their personality develop.

Encourage the child to participate in extracurricular activities. The child will have the opportunity to learn teamwork, leadership and social awareness. In many cases, the child is motivated to find purpose in life through these kinds of activities. This is a good sign.

Photo collage of different sports

Friends For Company

This is a hard time for children and having the company of other children is great because it can keep them socially involved. In addition, friends with similar interests will have a positive impact by helping kids in doing what they love the most.

Our Beliefs

We believe that every child is a blessing, and the upbringing of every child should be society’s main concern. Children are the future of our nation and they can move mountains if they are nurtured accordingly.

Our organization works on projects to deliver educational materials to the children who have an incarcerated father. We also give guidance to children and their families. We believe in helping families to live through this extremely difficult situation. Please contact us if you have any questions.

Losing Your Father

Image of a child huddled under cushions on a couch, most likely crying and a stencil on a wall of a little girl releasing a heart shaped red ballon

Losing your father to incarceration is a traumatic event. It’s completely understandable that you may be struggling to cope with negative feelings from the ordeal. Handling your emotions may feel overwhelming in the face of an uncertain future. You are not alone. Through this blog post, we hope that we have put into words what you are feeling and also provide you with support options while your father is incarcerated.

Feeling Negative Emotions

Discovering that your father has, or is going to be, incarcerated is extremely upsetting.

  • If you feel panic and anxiety upon hearing the news, realize that this is a perfectly normal response. 
  • It is perfectly normal to feel anger or uncertainty about your future. 
  • Losing your father, for any period of time might be all you think about for a long time. This dominant thought might color your perceptions about your life and anything else happening around you.
  • When you feel overwhelmed by negative emotions, you might lose sleep, your energy may drop, and you may feel depressed.
  • Remember that what is happening is not your fault. You have no control over the behavior of your father and cannot hold yourself responsible for the results of his actions.

Your mountain of emotions include shame, anger, fear, confusion, loss and sadness

As your feelings of panic, anxiety, fear and anger arise, close your eyes and breathe deeply. Create a chant that you can silently repeat to yourself such as, my father’s incarceration is not my fault. I am in control of my thoughts and emotions! Repeat it to yourself whenever you feel rising levels of negative emotions. This will help steady your resolve and clear your mind.

Your personal mantra: My father’s incarceration is not my fault. I am in control of my emotions!

Feeling Concern for your Father

It is natural for you to feel concern and fear for your father’s safety while he is incarcerated. It is important to realize that you have absolutely no control over the prison system. However, you do have control over your mental state. Create another mantra to repeat to yourself when you become anxious about your father’s well-being. Find ways to stay in touch with your father. Write how you are feeling and send him letters if possible or give them to him when he is released. This will be helpful to both of you.

Dealing with Bullies

Other children can be mean. If you are being bullied, take action to stop it before things get out of hand. Speak to an adult that you trust. You do not deserve to be bullied and your future is determined by you, not what other people say about you.

Finding Support

Losing your father to incarceration is not easy, but it does not have to be hard for you either. We are all blessed with challenge and support in our lives, they are key factors to our personal growth. Your father’s imprisonment does not demean you as a person. The people close to you will understand this as well and bear no judgment on you for your father’s actions. Ask your family and friends for support if you are struggling to cope with loneliness.

Your Are Not Alone

With a support network, children with an incarcerated parent can change anger, shame, lack of confidence and grief into resilience and hope for the future.

Changes in the child’s life

A child with an incarcerated parent faces significant life changes. The best scenario in this difficult situation, is continuing to live at home with only one parent to care for them.

The reality for some children can be more overwhelming as they may end up with different living arrangements.

Important Statistics

Through the insights, tips and other resources we share in this post, we want to remind children in this situation that they are not alone. 

How are kids feeling

A child who has an incarcerated parent may feel very emotional. In turn, many don’t know how to cope with the situation. However, children with a support network can turn anger, shame, lack of confidence, and grief into resilience and hope for the future.

How a child with an incarcerated parent feels

Note For Parents And Caregivers

To cope with the changes, many children with incarcerated parents will want to do what they feel is right. Owning how they deal with change feels empowering to them.

Tips for Parents and Caregivers of children with incarcerated parents

Children with a support network to turn to can change anger, shame, lack of confidence and grief into resilience and hope for the future.

Tips for kids


  1. Take a break: If you try to power through the frustration it will only leave you more stressed.
  2. Go outside: Changing your surroundings can help reduce your stress.
  3. Take deep breaths: This one is so simple and so effective, it’s a shame more of us don’t breathe to reduce stress. Here is a link to breathing exercises (includes a printable link):


  1. Exercise: Regular exercise can help your brain better deal with stress. Here is a link to a cool workout from Arthur from PBS Kids:
  2. Meditate: Tap into your inner monk. Meditation can take many forms. Simply doing light stretching, deep breathing, Yoga, or Tai Chi can help. Here’s a helpful link on meditation froThe Chopra Center:


  1. Keep a diary: Record your thoughts and feelings, this can benefit you in many ways. As you journal, you will grow your writing skills. When you are reunited with your parent, you can share with them what you experienced. A diary helps you to reflect on your day and your life and this is a proven technique to help us overcome stressful situations.

  2. Write the questions you have: Write down all the questions you have and start to work through them slowly. If you can, ask the adults in your life for help in answering your questions. Here is a template you can use.

  3. Seek advice: Sometimes it is important to seek advice instead of doing it alone. 


  1. Think outside the box: Don’t shut down and shut out life. Challenge yourself to participate in different activities and learn new things. Open your mind to new (and positive!) experiences.
  2. Find a creative outlet: Trying new things means that you can find ways to  express how you feel. Creative classes at school, sports, church and community activities can help you to express your feelings and channel your energy positively.


Kids, here is a printable list of these tips for you to download and print out. When you feel overwhelmed with the changes you are facing, take a few moments to read these tips, then select one to help you refocus.

Building Families Together offers several programs to support incarcerated individuals and their families. If you want more information on our services, check out  our Services page of our website. If you have questions about what we shared in this post and about our services, please use our Building Families Together contact form. You can also email us at or call (630) 465-4268. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram through the links at the top of this page.

5 Ways to Help Kids Learn What They’re Passionate About

Learning Blog

5 Ways to Help Kids Learn What They’re Passionate About
by Linda De Carvalho

Learning BlogFor some of us, the hardest thing in life is finding what we love to do while others seem to gravitate towards it naturally. Either way, it’s important to discover what you are most passionate about. Achieving a career path that includes what motivates you can help make your work life worthwhile. If you get paid for what you love to do, you’ve achieved what most people only dream about.

But ask any teenager what he or she is planning to do following graduation and many times you’ll get the response, “I don’t know.” Or talk to college students about their future and you might be surprised at how many have changed their majors and are not sure what they want to do with their degree. Yet, if you ask a child in elementary school, you might get immediate answers like “nurse,” “firefighter,” or “teacher.” These primary school children may be on to something! Or are they responding based on a show or presentation they’ve seen on You Tube, TV, or at school?

According to Deborah Yaffe, College, Careers, and Kindergarten (District Administration), even early learners “can start preparing for life after graduation.” But being ready for the “demands of college and careers,” although equally important, does not necessarily speak to what kind of activities motivates and inspires kids. And as Deborah reminds us in her article, even the experts caution that efforts to meet educational standards should not be void of fun activities and choices.

Can parents or caregivers help children find what they love to do?  Here are a few things to try:

  1. Leave your own preferences out of it. Set aside your own preconceived notions about what your children should do! Let them figure out for themselves what motivates them. Have discussions with your children that include their ideas of what they’d like to do now and what they see themselves doing later as grownups.
  1. Skip the labels. Don’t let their gender or personality dictate the type of interests they should pursue. It will help kids to understand themselves better when they learn more about what attracts them, not what is externally expected of them. If your daughter is a tomboy, take her camping! Get them to connect with nature, with people, and with the community.
  1. Explore, explore, explore! Get out of the house and provide your kids with exposure to new and different activities to try. You’ll love the smiles on their faces when they find something they truly enjoy. If they’re good at it is irrelevant. The goal is to find an activity they enjoy. Remember, this is discovery time.
  1. Sign ‘em up! Look for classes, summer camps, interactive museums, and other activities that may inspire your children. Check out the local community centers for starters to find things that might interest them.
  1. Be patient and look on the bright side. Sometimes it takes a lifetime to determine what you love to do, so don’t rush your child. Kids learn at their own pace, so just relax and enjoy the ride! And don’t be surprised if they change their minds along the way. What they love to do this week, may be what they hate next week.

father and son


One thing is for sure, as children try to find what they love to do, they’ll also figure out what they don’t want to do in life and that’s just as important.




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