I remember taking my son to visit his Step-Dad in prison and it was a weary experience to say the least. At the time he was 15, in to lasses, Xbox's and Lynx deodorant, so a prison visit for him was 'not cool.' In all fairness, he had never taken an interest in visiting his Step-Dad and made do with the phone calls. Even then he was stuck for 'teenage' words and all his Step-Dad ever got on the other end of the blower was the odd grumble whilst picking his zits in front of a mirror.
Anyway, he woke up one morning and all of a sudden decided that he wanted to go and visit Step-Pops. It must of been the teenage hormones that kicked in and changed his mind so I agreed and off to visit we went. It was probably the worst prison visit ever. The communication was as bad as an ex con and a probation officer and all I got was, "Mum, look at the size of him over there" and "Mum, check out that fellow's tattoos!" He was as bored as a home detention curfew convict! On the way home my son said he would never go again, and he didn't.
I am currently in touch with a young 17 year old girl who visits her Dad in prison. Her words were, " Me and Dad don't seem to talk on prison visits because we don't know what to say to each other." She went on to say that she felt like everyone was listening in on their conversation and that any problems or worries she had, she felt that she just couldn't talk to her Dad. Lets face it, prison visiting has to be one of the most impersonal things one can endure. I remember once on a visit me and my other half had a screw practically stood at the side of us so I spoke (loudly) about the smear test I had the week before and how much Always with Wings had gone up in price. The screw soon buggered off and stood beside some other poor old couple who just wanted a bit of privacy. But that's just the point. There is no privacy when visiting someone in prison. You try and talk about something personal whilst you are sat in a packed out doctors waiting room. That's what it's like. The young teenage girl said to me that prison visits are almost like places where you just go to view your loved ones and then coming away saying that, "I have seen my Dad." She feels that is all she does. Sees him. I knew exactly where she was coming from too, because that is the top and bottom of it. Others might disagree and I suppose we all have different visiting experiences, but it must be difficult for teenagers, because lets face it, teenage years are emotional, hormonal, amongst many other things. The sad story is, the young girl wants to keep visiting her Dad because she loves him. Maintaining a bond with him is a completely different issue because she feels that she can't do that due to the lack of privacy. She stated that she becomes shy on a visit yet as always had an open and healthy Dad and daughter relationship before he was sent to prison. So whilst the powers that be encourage maintaining family ties, which lets face it is a piss take, on the other hand they contradict themselves by putting families in an environment that restricts building relationships. At least it does for this young girl. I will keep you in the loop with her story and post updates of how she is getting on with her prison visits as she as asked me to do this to raise some awareness. So in the meantime, lets wish her well and keep her in our thoughts.