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My Parents Are Scared By My Dive Into Prison PenPals. Advice?

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Blacktidesly's picture
My Parents Are Scared By My Dive Into Prison PenPals. Advice?

I have wanted to write to inmates for some time now but was waiting for my birthday (and honestly briefly forgot about it). I have looked into the cost of getting a PO Box and things such as letters supplies and stamps. I am willing to shell out money for this because I don't think I can keep saying prisoners are human without putting my money where my mouth is and treating them as such. I love people deeply and believe that everyone is worthy of redemption if they want it. 

With this new delve though has come a problem; my parents. I am still living at home until the Fall when I go off to college. My parents are good people but they don't have the greatest view of prisoners as they are very into true crime and damaging prison reality shows. I have plenty of plans designed to stay safe and cut contact if things go to a place I do not feel is appropriate (if it can't be fixed of course) but they are still really uncomfortable and frightened by the whole idea. I told them only because I do not want to hide letters and my hobbies from them. I don't plan on meeting these people face to face or dating any of them so I am a little frustrated by their dislike of me doing this when I have plans in place to avoid complications. I don't know, I'm just venting now but I hope that some of you will have advice. I plan on doing it regardless of their wants as they cannot stop me as long as it doesn't come back to them but it is still hard to have my parents worried and against this. 

Thank you in advance for your help 

VioletGrey's picture

Blacktidesly - I have no specific "advice" on your situation as you're the one that knows your parents best, and I have a very limited snippet of information to go on. 
However, I will say, if you've made up your mind and you're going to write to prisoners regardless of whether they approve or not then you really don't need any advice. You've made the decision and now it's just about how to react to the consequences of writing to inmates from your parents.

I live with my Dad still, and he refers to all of them as "the prisoner" as in "you got another letter from the prisoner" which is obviously not a statement dripping with positivity. He doesn't understand it, he doesn't approve and I'm sure he'd rather I not do it, but he understands I am my own person with my own beliefs and choices and acts accordingly. He's never tried to intervene in anyway, we just don't talk about it and that's how we keep the peace around it. Not everyone is going to approve of all the things you do in your life so you just have to make sure that the main person in your life approves - so if they all feel right to you then go ahead, and don't worry about the opinions of others. You have the final say in your own life, unless you're like our incarcerated friends, so you should be able to live your life as you choose. 
Good luck writing and with Mum & Dad. 

ST4s's picture

Hey Blacktidesly, good on you!

Well, good parents are protective, so let’s tick that box right off the bat. Maybe give ‘em a little latitude if they’re soaking up reality tv – you know, the programs that seek out and sensationalize the most dramatic stories out there, and formulaic in how they leave the viewer hanging by a thread before every commercial break – so they soak up the advertising too. It’s their business model.

Documentaries get closer to the truth, but I’ve found that letters from prisoners are literally as close as one can get – if one really wants to understand. Prison life is overwhelmingly monotonous, and repetitive, and demeaning, and no producer in their right mind would put a half-hour or an hour of that on the tube (see business model, above), even though our friends probably go through it 24/7. A camera crew came through one of my bud’s facilities a little while back, fishing for drama. He would have none of it.

I’m sure you know that society tends to lump people into categories, whether it be by neighborhood, occupation, or any other metric. It’s the stuff of statistics. But misappropriated, it can also be called prejudice, or in its callous form, bigotry, or worse than that, hate. How does one combat that? Education? Activism? I dunno. Any social psychologists out there?

I think your PO Box solution telegraphs a protective message right back, and that’s good, but the truth about this pen pal gig is some folks just don’t get it, or don’t want to, or don’t want to take the time to find out.

But you have, and I can tell you it’s rare and admirable that you’ve chosen to do so, and I wish you every bit of an amazing experience on this journey as I’ve found.

Oh, and what Violet said.

Blacktidesly's picture

Thank you. I'm sorry you have had a bit of a similar issue. I went and got a PO Box today and have written four letters to send out tomorrow. I'm a bit nervous as I'm not quite immune to my parents' words of concern but I'm really hoping this will be a positive experience overall and they will not be proven right. Thank you again for your words of encouragement, I really appreciate it. 

Blacktidesly's picture

Thank you for the encouragement. I know how much it sucks to be a minority in a really oppressive area and part of this want to write is to break through that prejudice, both to encourage others and to fix any subconscious judgments I have. I have written a few letters and I am going to send them out tomorrow. I got the PO Box today and while I am nervous, I plan to stay hopeful. Thank you once again for your kind words.