My son is in jail. Again. To visit or not to visit, that is the question...

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Carri, Apr 13, 2014.

  1. Carri

    Carri Active Member

    I really do want to be there for my (29 yr old) son, but wonder if not visiting him for a while is the right/wrong thing to do. His court date is Monday, and he will more than likely get 3+ years time. This will be 4th or 5th time in jail...Would love some feedback.

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  2. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    You have to do what you feel like it. I have no idea what I'd do...especially the fourth or fifth time. I don't think I'd give him money or anything like that. I don't know that I'd rush. What did he do?

    He is sadly becoming a regular in jail and I hope that, if it's drug, he gets help this time and decides to change his life. I do not think that your showing up or not showing up will make any difference in how his life's travels will evolve. This is one walk he has to take himself and alone, as he nears his thirtieth birthday. As long as you continue to realize that you didn't cause him to do illegal things, and that you can't change him...and if you can detach and not be overly emotional when you see him...I think you should do what you want to do. If you think you will fall apart or have to listen to him blame you (verbal abuse), demand money from you, etc...I'd give it a while. in my opinion, I would not do ANYTHING that will harm your mental or physical health. That doesn't help anyone.YOU MATTER AS MUCH AS YOUR SON DOES>

    Of course, these are only my own thoughts and, to be honest, none of my kids never did end up in jail, although one was one parole twice.

    Sending hugs and empathy for your hurting mommy heart.
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  3. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    I am in the same situation. Mine is 3 hours away and I have bad hips and knees so a 6 hour round trip visit to listen to him complain and blame everyone but himself is not on my priority list right now.
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  4. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hi Carri, I'm so sorry you find yourself in this position with your son.

    There is an article at the bottom of my post here on detachment, you may find it helpful.

    My daughter has been in jail for almost 2 months, an hour away. I opted out of visiting her. I had the last time, but this time I decided to go with what I really wanted and I didn't want to go through what the jail makes you go through to visit, it is hours and hours of hanging around while being treated badly by the officials. There is no order, no one to help you, you aren't given any maps or directions to where you are to go, and you're treated like a criminal. It is a bad experience for the friends and family. She will be out next week, it was not a long sentence. In addition to all of that, although I talk to my daughter often, I did not want to visit her. I felt differently this time and I went with my feelings.

    But that is my choice, you have to weigh it all yourself. I read a little about your story and 10 years of drug addiction and the ride our kids put us through with that is exhausting, depleting and devastating for the parents. As I've gone through this with my daughter, I have had to learn to put myself as a priority, to take care of my needs first and learn what self care really means. To that end, if you haven't already, you may want to get involved with Narc Anon, Family Anonymous, private therapy for you, a support group for you or any other support systems you can get yourself involved with. Once we are well supported and begin to feel better about ourselves, we can make these kind of choices from a healthier perspective.

    Ask yourself what it is you REALLY want to do. Not out of obligation, not out of guilt, not because you think you SHOULD visit him, but what is it truly that YOU want to do? You've been at this for quite a long time, with a son who is not a kid anymore, and who has had many, many opportunities to change.........and he hasn't. Going to jail for a while may be what needs to happen for him to get some help, or at least not be in a position to get the drugs.

    While you are busy taking care of YOU, you may find that a natural schedule begins to emerge, like you feel okay about visiting him once a month, or once every three months or once a week or not at all. There is no right or wrong here, only what it is you're willing to do.

    Hang in there. While he is incarcerated, make the time about YOU, what you need, what you want. Reclaim your joy. Find your inner peace. Get your life back on track. Wishing you serenity..........
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  5. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member


    Yes, do what you want to do. Ten years ago, i flew 1500 mi to see my son in jail; he was about 25 at the time. I felt so badly for him and somehow thought my visit would help center him and I truly wanted to lay eyes on him. This was not the first time he was incarcerated. It was the last...though who knows what his future holds.

    Under those conditions, I think I did the right thing for me at the time. Today, not certain I would make that same amount of effort. Although he is not presently incarcerated, he is the same person. No real changes. Same bad decisions.

    Today, with the reality, I think I would rather put that energy and $$ toward a trip to Key West. He did not profit from my visits.

    Please keep posting.
  6. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    Whatever you do---visit him, write him or not---do it because it will help you, not him. That is my thought today when I make decisions about my son.

    He is in jail right now---9th time (by my best count). If I get the fleeting thought or urge to visit him, I wait a while and see if it is sustained. The last two stints I have not visited at all. I have written letters or postcards. This time he has been in for 10 days and I have written one postcard.

    If you pay a big price when you visit---before, during and after---I would consider not visiting.

    If it will bring you peace to visit, visit.

    There is no wrong decision here. If you visit, and it does not go well, you can decide not to visit again.

    You can write, and if you get letters back like I have gotten in the past 10 days, you can decide not to write again.

    You can make the choice that is best for you.

    I believe what MWM wrote above with all my heart.

    None of this is about me. It is not about what I have ever done or not done... or do or will do or not do... say or will say or will not say. It is about his addiction, and it is about his choices. He continues to choose the drug-induced thinking and lifestyle and not recovery.

    My son will recover if and when it is time and he decides he is ready to work on recovery. That will have nothing to do with me.

    I like to think about my son's relationship with me, in context with my relationship with my parents. I talk to my parents once every week or two. We have a pleasant conversation. We are close. They are not part of my everyday life in terms of my habits and my actions. I know a lot of people they don't know. I have different habits, attitudes, actions and beliefs than they do. We are completely separate people, even though they are very dear to me and I love them very much. I don't consider what they want or believe when I make my own decisions as a 57-year-old woman. My life is my own.

    That is how it needs to be with my son and myself.

    I hope that comparison makes sense. It has helped me to remember that comparison and work toward that.

    Most importantly, I am very sorry that your precious son is in jail again. I can imagine that you are in pain and despair and fear. I am sorry for the effects on you. Please take care of yourself right now. That is most important. He has made his choice, for now. There is nothing to be done about that, for now.

    Turn the focus on you. You deserve peace, rest, contentment, serenity and joy. I hope you can work toward that.
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  7. Carri

    Carri Active Member

  8. Carri

    Carri Active Member

    II haven't quite got the hang of how to maneuver on this site. I like what childofmine says about honking of my own relationship with my parents as an adult. It's a good comparison. I need to keep that perspective.

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  9. Carri

    Carri Active Member

    I really screwed that up. Haha. Meant to quote childofmine...

    Anyway, I did not go to see my son this weekend. I opted to go see a movie with my sister last night and tonight had the opportunity to go to a Game with my daughter.

    He's been in 4 jails over the last 2 weeks. He was picked up for possession of a controlled substance, heroine. Had a warrant out for his arrest, so ended up in 3 jails before being transported back to County where he had the warrant. I don't miss time from work to go to court as it doesn't change anything and it never gets easier seeing him in shackles and the jail clothes. And yes, the weekend visits aren't the 30 min visit alone, it's a good four hour chunk out of the day in waiting around. I like everything you all said. It would almost be easier if he got locked up somewhere far away so I didn't feel like I should go see him. (Mother guilt). He has court tomorrow so I'll probably want to see him next weekend to see how that went. I like the expression "if you don't know what to do, don't do anything."

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    Lasted edited by : Apr 25, 2014
  10. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    This is the important thing to figure out. And you know what? It changes. My son has only been in jail for short stints ( amonth at most). Jail is quite near by. But I don't visit him. I don't want to.

    Our difficult child's take up a LOT of our time...they did as kids, they do as adults. And a lot of that time is painful, wasted, lost to us and to the other people we love without any gain. I think stepping back and figuring out how you want to spend your time is a really good process.

    Good luck,

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  11. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member

    I agree that there is no right answer. Over the various times mine has been in jail I have visited or not, allowed calls...or not, put money on his books...or not, depending on what I wanted to do. As was said above, do what you want for your own piece of mind, not out of what you think other's will think you should do.
  12. rita

    rita Member

    I never went after he was an adult, legally. I did pick him up last time he got out of prison and he was always allowed to call once a week. Any verbal nonsense and the call was ended. When he was in juvie I went an adult he made choices he had to live with. If incarcerated on his birthday etc. I sometimes would put 20 in his canteen, and I wrote once a month. I could not do the time with him...I am sorry you are going through this ...there is little worse as a mom to experience
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  13. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    If it were me, I'd wait until after sentencing. Like others, I wouldn't see any benefit to visiting if he were playing the blame game. He'll do that forever if you let him. For right now, letters and calls is probably enough. I don't know your financial situation, but phone calls from jail can be expensive. You might want to limit them. Measure your comfort level and go from there. Three years is a long time, and you can repair your relationship with him over that time if that is something he wants. Right now he wants a short sentence and will be grasping at straws. This is his time to do, not yours. When he gets out you will both have different lives than you do now. All of our lives will change in three years. All either of you can do is live the best life you can in that time and prepare for his release. I guess what I'm saying is that I'd take my clue from him - if he is going to change, you will know. Let him make that overture and decide if he wants the make a better life for himself. Include yourself in his better life and omit yourself from his criminal life, and hope that he chooses the better life.

    You might want to edit out some of the personal identifiers in your most recent post to protect your privacy, and your son's as well. I've notified the mods so that they can take out which jail he is in if you don't get to it first. It might seem innocuous, but you'd be surprised what family can find if they are looking for it, and this should be a private place.
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  14. Carri

    Carri Active Member

    Looking back at my original post and all of the wise responses. Only 7 months has passed and so much has happened. My son's 3 yr sentence turned into 1 year and then, bam, after only 6 months he was released early due to Prop 47 passing in CA. Not on probation or parole, no direction, so he came back home to stay until he could find a job. The first 2 weeks were pretty wonderful; he was different, he was taking care of business, he was doing everything right. He interviewed for a job at Home Depot (they hire felons) and got it! Life was good... He never did go back to Home Depot to finish up the paperwork which included a drug test. Game on, his old behaviors were back, I could see that he was high again. Almost like he couldn't handle all that was happening, the responsibility. The original plan for when he was released was to move into a halfway house, so that's what happened next, moved him into a very good home in the next town. I wrote the check out partially for my own serenity. I can't live with the chaos. Apparently after the fist week, he used and was asked to leave. I have no idea where he's staying now. Wow, what a roller coaster. He must like his lifestyle because he had every opportunity to succeed, once again and he chose another route. I'm tired of trying to figure it out, because I never will. It's his life and I want him to be happy, what ever that looks like for him. I need to live my own life and learn how to distract my mind when it goes to crazy places worrying about my son. I learn a lot on this site. There is a lot of wisdom here!
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  15. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    Oh Carri. I see the growth, wisdom, weariness, letting go, sadness and acceptance in your post. This is where we get to, if the insanity continues and we work on ourselves.

    We get to the place where we can let go.

    I truly believe that for many of us---like me, an especially slow learner---it takes time and again and again and again and again of doing the same thing and getting the same results. We have to be shown the hard way, the very slow way.

    Like they do.

    In time, I came to see that my struggle/journey and his struggle/journey was very, very similar.

    We were walking separate paths, bridged by our love for each other, and they were both lonely, cruel, very difficult paths.

    I have finally found peace and contentment and serenity on my journey, Carri. It has taken so much hard work. And strangely, he appears to now be making some progress on his journey.

    I will mess up. He will mess up. That is inevitable. The question is: what will I do when it happens? When I mess up and when he messes up? Will I react to myself and to him? I am also learning that accepting my own mistakes is yet another step forward. I give myself a figurative hug and say, well, do better next time.

    Yes, their mistakes seem to be more catastrophic, like homelessness and jail and injury and even death. But Carri, you know this already: we can't control another person. We can love them, and encourage them, and even at times, decide to help them for whatever reason, but we can't make it all better anymore.

    Warm hugs to you today. Please use the tools you read about on this board---so many tools---that work for you. Find them, use them daily as a practice in your life, and you will continue to grow in new and amazing ways.

    I am praying for you and your son. I am praying that good things come to the both of you.

    Keep posting here. There is so much acceptance, wisdom, patience, honesty and truth on this board, and it has been one of my best tools in my own journey.

    You're not alone, Carri. We are here.
  16. Origami

    Origami Active Member

    Hi Carri,
    As the mother of a "new" difficult child heroin addict (only 1 year for mine, but already arrested for possession), I am sending you my good wishes and hope that you can find peace in the chaos.

    This is my thought, also. I'm just learning that heroin addiction is a whole different level of craziness, and am trying not to get enmeshed in my son's drama. Mine seems to self-destruct when things get to going too good for him (ie. good job, etc.). Maybe it is the fear of responsibility or success?

    Hugs to you!
  17. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Hi Carri,
    I've been where you are. My difficult child has been in and out of jail numerous times. husband and I have tried to help him more times than I remember. You get to the point where you say enough is enough. Most people feel lucky to be given a second chance and are grateful and careful with that opportunity. My difficult child has been given dozens of "second chances" and has always managed to screw them up.
    You did the right thing by getting him out of your home. He is a grown man now, not the little boy that you once were able to make everything ok for.
    It takes time to let go of the worrying and on some level it will always be there but it does not have to consume you.
    My difficult child has had bouts with homelessness and while I can't imagine what that must be like for him I have to let it go. He has been given opportunities to help himself and yet this is what he has chosen. There is nothing more I or you can do for them other than pray if you are so inclined.
    Letting go of worry for him does not mean you don't love him or care about him but you need to love yourself, you need to take care of yourself, you need to live your life for yourself.
    I too wish I understood why my difficult child chooses to live the life he does as he is off the charts smart and talented. I just don't get it and I never will but I am finally at peace with it.
    ((HUGS)) to you...........
  18. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

  19. HeadlightsMom

    HeadlightsMom Well-Known Member

    Geez........... this thread really moved me. I wound up clicking "Like" on most every post because there was some gem of wisdom in there. Similar gems, but you all have slightly different slants and wording for it. How I appreciate you all!

    Carri --- There's nothing more I can add to all of the profound wisdom already written here. Oh, wait, there is one thing...... I'm impressed at your growth, strength and courage. I admire that in you! Take care and I send my virtual hugs of comfort and support your way, too!
  20. Carri

    Carri Active Member

    Thanks for the nice words, headlights mom. It's so good to be able to share with people that really "get it"... Hugs to you.