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I feel like a father again

Jason was transferred to Clarence Correctional Centre as soon as it opened in July 2020. Unfortunately his wife is also incarcerated and her parents have custody of their two young children and live in Queensland. Jason’s in-laws had not been keen to bring the children to see their dad and his relationship with them had started to break down.

He had reached out to his in-laws on occasion, asking if he could please see his children, but they have found it too challenging to organize during COVID and with the distance.

In January this year, Jason applied to do the SHINE for Kids evidence based parent program Keeping Us Together at Clarence. He told the SHINE facilitators that he had been having a lot of doubts about his role as a parent and that he’d lost connection with his children. Jason eagerly participated in all the Keeping Us Together sessions and was particularly verbal and engaged in the activities. He found the session about children’s early brain development really helpful and was interested to learn that positive relationships help children’s brain pathways grow stronger and assist them to become more resilient. Jason also participated in all the discussions about the messages we receive when growing up and shared how trauma from his own childhood had affected his parenting style.

During group discussions, Jason shared how his younger son had started taking his phone calls but that sometimes he would not speak clearly or answer his questions. We were able to look at this in terms of children’s need to develop trust and feel safe in their connection and offered some practical ways to stop, pause and breath before reacting to what his son was, or was not, saying.

Through the Keeping Us Together program Jason practiced role play exercises in how to communicate clearly and positively and to be aware of the different developmental stages of his two children. He said this has helped him to understand where his children were at and set realistic expectations because “It’s hard to know when you don’t get to see them”.

About 2 months after graduating from Keeping Us Together, Jason reported that he had had his first face to face visit with his children in 2 years. He was nervous and excited and used the breathing techniques practiced in class to keep calm. He said the visit went quite well despite the very strict COVID restrictions, but that not being able to hug his children after so long was one of the hardest things he had ever done.

“I just want to keep connecting with my kids and I’m using all the tools I practiced in the Keeping Us Together program. It’s helped me restore my self-worth as a father,” Jason said.

I feel like a father again

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