My name is Leigh and this will be our first Christmas together as a family for six years.
I have been a single parent for six years due to having a partner in prison. I know many don't class themselves as being a single parent in such situations, but the top and bottom of it is you are when your partner or husband/wife goes to prison. For six years, I had to explain why my daughter's Dad wasn't going to be with us at Christmas. She was 3 when he was sent to prison, and every Christmas she used to write to Santa and ask him to bring her Dad home. One year she even said she didn't want any presents and that she only wanted her Dad. My heart breaks for every child that will go through this, this year. I have been there and I have worn the t-shirt which was washed many times. I don't think the Government are the slightest bit interested in prisoners children and what effect imprisonment has on their life's. And I don't think their attitude will change on the subject either. If someone is sent to prison, then it's tough! That's fair enough, but children of prisoners didn't ask for their parent to commit a crime. Whilst my partner was in prison, I got very little sympathy from people - not that I wanted any sympathy - but even the most Christian of people weren't in the slightest bit interested in what my young daughter was going through. They didn't understand or rather refused to understand. Christmas was easier when my daughter was between the ages of 3 to 6 years old because I bought her a present from Dad and always put it under the tree. When she got older, she knew that Dad hadn't bought it her because then she began to understand the restrictions prison has. She even once asked a prison officer if he would let her Dad out for Christmas and the prison officer was stuck for words. I would have been too wouldn't you? This year her Dad is home for Christmas but many of my friends whom I have met at visitors centres will go through the same emotional stuff I went through and it isn't great I can tell you.
I wanted to share my experience on this after reading some posts on your site. If there is one thing I can advise it would be to just make Christmas as special as you can for your children. I'm sure you will but remember that you are not alone in this situation. Thanks for listening.