Transitioning back into society, family life, and the workforce can be a challenging process but with community support it is absolutely possible to rebuild a productive life. Here are a few simple ways to support your loved ones after incarceration.
Listen to their plans.
Understand and accept that what YOU want for their life after incarceration may not be what they envisioned for themselves. Incarcerated people have no control of their day-to-day lives, and the ability to make choices for themselves can be overwhelmingly exciting after being released. Many people spend their entire sentence planning and visualizing what they want the next chapter of their lives to look like. Be careful to not invalidate their dreams or minimize their goals by trying to emphasize what you believe is best for them. Choose motivational language and provide them with hands-on lessons that can help shape their long-term decisions. Seek professionals who can provide advisement or input that helps your loved one to remain encouraged and goal-oriented while gaining a new perspective on their plans.
Understand culture shock.
Many things that are common for you may be totally new to them. Be informative and encourage them to explore without judgment. Encourage your loved ones to tackle small unfamiliar tasks on a regular basis, and create fun moments while teaching them how to use new devices. Have relatable discussions regarding the ways language, politics, and media may have shifted since they were incarcerated. A positive learning environment can help to create a sense of comfort as your loved ones begin to explore new items, experiences, and ideas while readjusting to society and culture. It can also boost their confidence and relieve any anxiety about trying new things.
Speak life into them and encourage them to set small daily goals.