Michael A. Davis writes about the pain of the prison in his heart.
by Michael A. Davis
P.O.P.S. the club came to my attention during a recent conversation with a fellow convict named Boston Woodard. After being told what P.O.P.S. the club was all about, I felt compelled to offer my input and perspective in regards to “the pain of the prison system” and how it relates to me.
It’s sadly astounding the profound impact that having a parent in prison can have on a child. The invariable feelings of misplaced guilt and blame, the never-ending uncertainty, the lack of having a proper traditional family structure, along with the shame and embarrassment that comes with having a parent in prison can take a heavy psychological and emotional toll on a child who doesn’t know how to appropriately express their feelings and thoughts. Regrettably, more times than not, the negative results can be far reaching and have lifelong side-effects. The ripple effect can go on for generations, and I assure you that that ripple effect can be directly linked to a lot of the dysfunction going on in society today. Growing up with a parent in prison is a painful dilemma no child should be saddled with, but unfortunately in today’s society, it’s a reoccurring reality for too many children.
I am intimately familiar with this particular subject because I am the child of a parent who was in prison for a large part of my life. I am also the parent of a child who was forced to endure having a parent in prison for his entire life. And now my son just so happens to be an incarcerated parent of a child who has been forced to endure growing up with a parent in prison. Like I said, the cycle can go on for generations.
In short, this is my story…
Growing up in the 1970s, the only interaction I remember having with my biological father was through the periodic phone calls or once-in-a-blue-moon letters he’d write that I’d get while visiting my grandmother over the summer. My father passed away in 2010 due to complications related to diabetes, and the one lasting impression I have of him is that he was never there for me, ever. I grew up blaming him for everything bad that ever happened to me (misplaced blame). My blame was unfair, but it was the reasoning I used in my decision-making process with so many of the poor choices I made in my younger years growing up in an unstructured environment. I vowed to be nothing like my father, but ironically, I ended up being exactly like my father!
One day, when it truly dawned on me how messed up my circumstances actually were, I determined to change them. I decided that I would be the one to initiate breaking the cycle of incarceration that literally has plagued my family for generations! I reached out to my incarcerated son and shared with him my desire to change our circumstances, and he too devoted himself to breaking the cycle. By the time you’re reading this piece, my son will have been released from prison after doing 4-1/2 years, and I have high hopes that he and I together will break the cycle!
I changed the condition of my heart and became the author of Deeply Rooted in 2012. I also mentor at-risk youth here at the prison where I’m incarcerated. My son converted to Islam, and he too changed the condition of his heart and aspires to be great in his lifetime.
While our stories didn’t start out well, they most definitely have taken a turn for the better, and my son and I are as resolute as ever to follow through with breaking this appalling generational curse of “parenting while in prison’ that has inundated our family for generations.
Programs like P.O.P.S. the club are essential in helping families break the cycle and heal from and/or deal with the pain of having a loved one in prison, so they will always have my undying support!!! Thank you to all the hard-working people at P.O.P.S. the club.
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