The Art of Letter Writing
“To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere, without moving anything but your heart.” — Phyllis Grissim-Theroux
With your loved one in prison, you both are presented with a unique and engaging opportunity. You get to write and receive letters that touch upon emotions that modern technology cannot. There is truthfulness and sincerity in letter writing that the internet can’t capture. So we ask you to take your correspondence while serving time together seriously and even enjoy this artful form of communication.
An Argument for Letters
In case we haven’t sold you on the idea of writing more than perhaps you considered when this incarceration occurred for your loved one, consider writing a letter as a wonderfully physical interaction. “Ink from your pen touches the stationary. Your fingers touch the paper, and your saliva seals the envelope.” It is a way to place that note you have carefully cared for in your loved one’s hands.
Your partner will cling to your letter, and the moments they spend reading your words will remind them about everything they love. They will appreciate the effort you took to print something out for them, clip an article, send a picture, and share a quote; they will soar that you took precious time to write.
Many people that have been imprisoned talk about how much the letters meant to them. In some cases, it created an archive of time. Time, where you both went through something together, an experience you maybe never expected, a history you can keep.
Children Writing to an Incarcerated Parent
Parenting is a challenge, and adding prison into that scenario makes it even more challenging. Letters present a unique opportunity for the child and the imprisoned individual to connect in a special manner.
You can do things to help the child in your care thrive towards a letter relationship with your incarcerated loved one. “The child should be urged to write regularly to the incarcerated parent. If the child is too young to write, he can dictate a letter to the caregiver. If he has trouble expressing his feelings of sadness, loneliness, and anger, the caregiver can help him find the words.”
You are an essential factor in this communication between the child and their incarcerated parent. You can help the child with what they will write, and also with their feelings as it is a problematic scenario.
The discipline required to create such a communication regularly will take planning and organization. You will have to coordinate it all. One thing that can help is to make a list with your child of things that they may want to share. It is something that you both can add together to your daily planner so you won’t have to brainstorm as much on a letter writing day.
Creativity Feeds the Mind
The child and the adult writing to the person they are serving time with should embrace their creative ideas that make a letter magical. Albert Einstein once said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” Letter writing is an exercise in intelligence for you and the child in your care.
In prisons throughout the world, tiny crayoned pictures hang on cell walls, poems and inspirational quotes carry the imprisoned through their most challenging times or longest lockdowns. Your letters are an open painter’s palette to entertain, inspire, and connect, and it is something that you can be as imaginative as possible in creating.
It is also a great idea to send your accomplishments along to your incarcerated loved one. This can be a homework assignment or test from a child, a certificate, or a job commendation from an adult. All of these moments can be wrapped like a gift in a letter.
Tips for the Incarcerated Parent
You can help your incarcerated loved one if they have questions about how to handle correspondence with their child. You can encourage them and tell them about writing down ideas they may use later.
Some common choices are positive changes and accomplishments they have made. Common interests are good to discuss and often, the incarcerated parent can get coloring pages or pictures from the prison library to include in their letter. Memories of moments that the family enjoyed together are great to discuss with the child.
This is a time for your loved one to talk to the child. They need to communicate to keep their relationship going or even to make them stronger. Birthdays and holidays are great opportunities for your partner to do something special. They can create art or cards or even have friends do something they direct them to do if they aren’t artistic.
The main thing to remember is this is a chance to keep your family going and even keep a record of everyone’s accomplishments during this time. Letters are often forgotten in our society, but it is a constant connection in prison that can make a real difference in how you serve your time together.