Getting to know families etc...

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Reyenah's picture
Getting to know families etc...

Hey there :)


Has anyone else had experience of randomly getting to know your penpal's friends or family? It's happened to me a few times now and though it's been a bit weird to begin with it's actually been really positive.


First one was my first penpal, he included a slip of paper with some technical questions from his friend inside. I replied, then he gave me "permission" to write to his friend separately, and we're now corresponding. 


During this, however, the new PP wanted some documents sent to him so had to send via his sister and his mum's email, and since then I've actually been chatting via email with his mum and 2 sisters, just sharing news and photos and stuff. So that 1st penpal has led on to a 2nd penpal and also his mum and 2 sisters!!


My other penpal, he asked if I would talk to his son (as he his phonecall privileges have been taken away). I said I thought calling some random guy in the US out of the blue would be a bit weird but offered my email address, and just yesterday I had an email from his son saying hi! So it looks like I'll be chatting with him too (and possibly tutoring?). He's also sent my details to his mum so I can expect to hear from her too! So that penpal has also expanded into a mother and a son to chat to as well!


Has anyone else found their penpal list unexpectedly expand like this??

Kathryn Emma
Kathryn Emma's picture

My Nebraska PP shared my home address with his sister - he wanted to send me a birthday present but without Internet access his sister had to help. All be it with the best of intentions at heart I didn't appreciate my address being shared with his family without my permission. I am there for my PP not his family. I have no desire to be in touch with them so have had to in the nicest possible way tell him to make sure they don't start writing to me and expect to build friendship with them as it won't be happening. I was ready to give my PP my phone number to call me but that has gone out of the window now. As I don't want to be bothered by his family and I know he will feel a little pressured to share with his family if in conversation he tells them he is able to call me. But this is personal. Most people don't mind engaging with family. I just don't want to and have no desire to.

Xo50's picture

I think that it’s sweet and I would like that very much if my pen pals asked me, to be friends with their families.  I do know their roommates a little more, as sometimes they’ll put mail from me onto my pen pal’s bunk, and I hear about what memes and stuff their roommates liked from my letters too.  

Mateo's picture

My PP gave me his Dad's phone number pretty early on. But the main reason was because he was being transferred and didn't want to lose contact in the process. But since then he considers me family and vice versa, so tells me to message his Dad here and there which I happily do. Also, I'm from UK and plan to visit Cali again soon so my PP told me his family (and his sister specifically) can give me a "tour," I guess, of where he's from and protect me as it's in the heart of the hood. I like the whole family contact because it reassures you both that it's not just a temporary letter but in fact it's more of a permanent friendship/partnership.

KateAndrews's picture

I know one penpals (Colorado) elderly aunt has my details. Due to the difficult situation of last year which saw my penpal frog marched into protective custody as his old gang wished to clear the yard of ex members (seemingly this was a country wide thing).
It took months to get him to a different facility and eventually out into the gen. pop. That was a difficult time for me and his aunt was beside herself. So I offered my support. I ask about her through my penpal how she is but I do not speak with her otherwise.
I do know my Virginia/Massachusetts/ Idaho penpals keep me in the conversation with thier families I guess I give them something to talk about. Other then that I like to keep it between us.

ST4s's picture

One of my penpals was unable to reach his elderly father for some time (the only family member who hadn't disowned him) and asked me to give him a call. This was six states over, so not really a stop by and say hi situation. I, too, got no answer after repeated attempts.

I suggested I could call the local police department for a wellness check. It was a bit of a hurdle for my friend, leap of faith, something (he's not very trusting of law enforcement), but I talked him into giving me permission to do so. The police called me back shortly with the good news, and thanks to CorrLinks, I was able to pass it along to my friend later that day. Other than that, I haven't been asked to contact family, but I'd do something like that again in a heartbeat. 

Cleo95's picture

What would you guys do if your pen pals family tried to add you on FB? One of my pen pals has a teenage daughter and she sent me a friend request and I’m not sure whether or not to accept? His sister also sent me a friend request! I feel like it’s too soon for me to be in contact with his family because since February, we’ve only sent about 6 or 7 letters total and although I do care about him and we get along so well, and there’s obviously a connection there, I don’t know if I’m okay with being in contact with his family like that? I kind of also would like to know what he’s told them about me, but I don’t know if I should ask? What do you guys reckon? 


Kirsten's picture

Hi Cleo,

I'd ask him - and I'd take my time. Btw, great to see you around again. Good post at the other thread!

 Best regards,


Xo50's picture

In my last batch of letters this week, my pen pal asked me about getting to know his brother and mother, and I told him they could add me on FB.  I know it’s a little bit of a gamble, as we only know our pen pals, and not their families yet but I looked at it like a support system network, and I’m flattered when people’s families want to know me, too.  So I’d definitely discuss us and I’m open to it.  The worst thing that could happen is the family over-contacts me online, but I can control that by simply saying I don’t have the time to chat but will message them when I do.  Most people are pretty good at understanding to give that privacy and space.  I’m really happy he wants to include me like that in his life.  To me, family is incredibly important.  But he and I discussed it all well ahead of time, like I mentioned in my previous post, he and I did also discuss to be careful of people who say they’re friends, know him, etc, because unfortunately there are weirdos out there, too.  Chances are people just want to build a network of people they feel connected to, but better safe than sorry!!  

Cleo95's picture


Hi Kirsten!! Yeah I think you’re right! I think i just have to find the right words to say without coming across as harsh. I don’t want him to think that I’m upset or angered by this or anything like that. Just that I would’ve liked a heads up prior, that’s all! This might seem weird, but I’m also worried that like, maybe his family might judge me or something if they saw my Facebook and the pics i have on there. Nothing trashy or scandalous, but there’s plenty of pictures of me drunk and doing stupid things and dumb statuses etc. I don’t know, maybe I’m thinking too much about this?! 

 I wanted to also say thank you for giving me the advice to take things slowly! I feel like if you hadn’t, I would’ve moved at lightning speed and I would be completely overwhelmed by it all and burned out very quickly, I think - and I probably would’ve given up by now, so thank you for that!! Thanks Kirsten! 



I totally get what you mean, and I think if he had done what you and your pen pal did by discussing it all beforehand, then I definitely feel like I’d be more open/comfortable with it all. He also only just told me about his daughter and he was very apologetic about ‘keeping that’ from me, but I just told him that him having a child has no bearing on our friendship, and then bam! his daughter adds me on FB. It just caught me off guard, I think! But yeah, I am glad that his family knows what’s going on with him and our friendship and that they’re keen on being involved? I don’t know if involved is the right word to use here, though. I do agree about your point on expanding support networks and being/feeling connected! I wish my pen pals had more people to write them. But I know there’s just so many inmates looking for that connection and not enough people to write, so I guess it is what it is. Thank you Athena for your input!!

Another thing: This might sound dumb and ignorant as hell, but another fear of mine that kind of makes me pause at being too involved in his life, is the fact that he’s told me that he’s still involved with gangs and that his family never left their neighbor hood and some are still involved in that lifestyle. I know I’m probably being dramatic about this, but it worries me, and I can’t shake that worry? I know nothing would happen because I live all the way in Australia, but the irrational fear is still there. I know gangs are a part of prison life and that they have their own rules in there so any ideas on how to get over this? 


Cleo95's picture

I just want to clarify and say that I’m not holding my pen pals gang involvement against him nor am I going to judge him for it. I get that things are different in there and you gotta do what you gotta do to survive in there, I’m just a natural worrier and so I worry! I’m still going to be his pen pal and he really is a great guy and I look forward to getting to know him! I also really appreciate his honesty and the fact that he’s upfront about everything! Also the gang thing is such a tiny part of why I’m uncomfortable with his family wanting to be friends on FB! The bigger reason is that one, it’s too soon imo and two, I wish we would’ve talked about it beforehand! That’s all :)

Xo50's picture

Cleo, I understand, several of my pen pals were previously involved with racist organizations on the streets or while in prison.  As an non-racist person, and one who believes very much in equality, I spoke a lot with them about the important things, their educations, hobbies, and if they would say things like “may I say a racist joke” I’d respond with “I just don’t feel comfortable with those - I like everyone equally, I’ve met good and bad in every type of person, I don’t have a racist bone in my entire body.”  I also want treated like an equal, so if they tease me, then I’ll give it right back. 

Since then, they’ve dropped that type of talk and decided they wanted to focus on the other things in life, like their classes and art.

If you want me to be honest, that type of serious gang crime stuff in the news is often over drugs, which I absolutely can’t stand.  Those organizations do often get involved in that mess.  My pen pals know I will not discuss things that would get anyone into any sort of trouble, and they all know that’s not my scene, and they respect it.  

So I look at it like this, if they’re involved if something you might not be comfortable with because it could ruin their futures, why not be a positive influence on them and be an example of all the cool and healthy things you’re doing in your life that involve just being you ?  That’s what people need to see.  That there are options in life for all of us, no matter where we come from. I bet with your good attitude you could be a role model in how to handle things, keep a good attitude, and make good choices.  You never know, you might inspire them and help them really grow as a person.

It’s not dumb to worry.  I worried a little about this, like...are my pen pals going to um, get angry for no reason and wish to harm me?  But it was a very irrational fear.  They made a very bad mistake in their lives and are paying for that mistake now, and probably the rest of their lives.  They’re smart people and they know to keep friends, it’s a two way street, and they have to work at it, which I really respect about them.  I have a PO BOX to protect my address, the justice system wants to protect the public, and I feel like I’m being respected right now in my communications.  

Xo50's picture

I totally understand that, but chances are people on FB aren’t going to try to get involved in shady stuff right there in public.  Or try to get you involved.  They probably WILL look up to you, tho.

Xo50's picture

But I completely agree discussing it and feeling ready is important (-: I was probably ready before my pen pal was, to become friends with his family, lol.