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For families with young children, having to explain what is happening when a father has been arrested can be a challenging task. A child’s emotions will be in turmoil. They will be confused about why their parent has gone away. They may develop problems in school or with their friends.
To help children deal with these issues, a parent does not have many resources to turn to. One of the best is the children’s picture book, “The Night Dad Went to Jail: What to Expect When A Loved One Goes to Jail” by Melissa Higgins. One of the “Life’s Challenges” series, this short book gives parents a starting point for talking to children ages four to eight about what is happening around them.
The book is told from the point of view of a young rabbit, Sketch, who one night witnesses the police coming to his father’s apartment to arrest him. The story follows Sketch throughout his experiences resulting from that arrest. He is teased by classmates due to his dad. Readers are shown the first visit at the jail, where the two must talk by phone through a glass window, then at the prison, going through the metal detector but being able to hug and sit with his father.
Through Sketch, it will be explained to children how their home life is changing. Children will learn that feeling scared, mad, sad and worried are normal. By his example they are encouraged to deal with these feelings with methods such as youth support groups with other children going through the same thing and by writing letters or drawing pictures for their parent.
Parents are given helpful facts and tips throughout the book in boxes printed at the bottoms of the pages. There is a glossary of terms to use with their children and links to internet sites and other resources that they can use.