Parents in prison

Having a parent or carer in prison can be tough. And it can often feel difficult for both you and your family. Whatever you're going through, we're here to help.

having a parent in prison

Having a parent or carer in prison can leave you feeling all sorts of things.

It's normal to feel torn between loving your parent and hating what they've done. This can make you feel confused, and like you need someone to talk to.

Whatever the reason your parent is in prison, it's not your fault. And if somebody tells you you're worthless, or blames you for your parent being in prison – that's emotional abuse. It's wrong and it shouldn't be happening.

Even if you decide to report your mum or dad, or tell someone about what's happening, you're doing the right thing.

How you might feel:

However you feel, it's not your fault they are in prison and we can help.

stress on the family

When a parent goes to prison, things can often change at home – sometimes for the better and sometimes for worse.

Sometimes having a parent in prison can create money worries, and there might be more stress for the rest of the family. But remember, this is never your fault.

You might have to:

  • take on more responsibility at home and do chores
  • look after younger brothers or sisters
  • look after a parent
  • juggle school work with prison visits.

Some young people have told us that there've been fights or arguments in the family since their parent went to prison. And this can be a really difficult time at home.

Remember that you have the right to feel safe at home. If the fights ever become physical, this is domestic abuse, and it's not okay. If you feel in danger call the police 999. And if you need to talk, we can help.

Talking about it

It can be really hard to talk about a family member in prison.

But it's really important to tell people how you feel.

Your family might not know how much it's affecting you. And they might be feeling just as lonely and confused as you.

Try writing your thoughts and questions in a letter for them to read. If they still don't want to talk about it, you don't have to cope on your own.

Making different choices

If a parent is in prison, it's natural to want to make a different life for yourself. We've got some advice for keeping out of trouble below. 

Give yourself options

Staying in school or training after you turn 16 will give you:

  • more choice in getting a job in the future
  • skills and knowledge to be successful
  • more control over where you live if you're financially independent
  • an idea of where you'd like to be in 5 years time.

siblings in prison

If you have a brother or sister who's been sent to prison, it may feel like you've lost an older friend or someone you trust and look up to.

And it might become harder to get on with your parents.

You may feel confused or angry, but remember that you can ask an adult you trust help. And you can always talk to a counsellor about what's going on.

if you want them to stay in prison

There are lots of reasons why you might not want your parent to be released from prison.

Depending on the reason they were arrested, you might be worried about you or your family's safety in case they find you. This can cause a lot of anxiety.

Depending on what's happened, the police or social services might have plans to make you feel safe. For example, they might give you or your family a number to call. Or they might call your home to check on you.

We can get in touch with social services or the police for you, if you ever feel unsafe – all you need to do is get in touch.

You might also find things at home are much better since your parent went to prison. There might be fewer arguments and your family's learnt to cope without them. You might also worry that your parent will commit further crimes or feel embarrassed about their behaviour before they went to prison.

Remember that we're here and can talk you through how things will change and how you can get support.