Dear Ann Landers,
My stepson, "Roy," was recently sentenced to 15 years in prison for selling drugs. He has been in and out of trouble for his entire life, and I cannot say one good word about him. The last time Roy was out of jail, he got a young girl pregnant, and she had a baby boy. When the federal agents raided their home, the baby was given to Roy's mother and stepfather to raise. That child is now 4 years old.
Here's the problem: Roy's mother has been taking the boy to see his father in prison. Now, Roy wants my husband to bring the child with him when he visits, and my husband has agreed.
I don't think it's appropriate for the boy to see his father locked up. Everybody whitewashes the situation and tries to make it seem like Roy is away at college. They tell the kid how nice the place is, how good the food is and how well the guards treat the prisoners. By the time the child is 10 years old, he will think jail is a pretty nice place to be. I am really bothered by this.
I cannot do anything about Roy's mother, but I am shocked that my husband is willing to take the boy on these trips. I am afraid this child will never have a chance in life unless he can distance himself from his jailbird father. It's not as if Roy has turned over a new leaf. The last time my husband went to see him, Roy threatened to kill his stepfather. I have no doubt that he would do it.
What do you say, Ann? Will these visits harm the boy? This is very troubling and is starting to cause a problem between my husband and me. Please advise. -- Darkness in Delaware
How sad that the 4-year-old's first memory of his dad will be associated with prison. Now that the child has seen his father there, I see no point in stopping the jail-house visits, but do ask your husband to consider making his trips with the boy less frequent.
That child should be seen on a regular basis by a competent therapist. He must not be allowed to grow up thinking jail is a "normal" or "good" place to be. He must understand that it is a place people are sent when they break the law. Please, for the child's sake, talk to your husband, and try to get the boy into counseling at once. He needs help.