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How To Explain Parents Arrest To A Child

I remember this well. I was young, like really young, as I watched my father being taken away in handcuffs. I had no way to comprehend what was happening. All I knew is what my own eyes were telling me... that my Dad was being taken away. I don't remember any conversations about a local bail bonds service or any other topic of conversation that would indicate to me that I would ever see my Dad again. I was completely in the dark and that memory still haunts me today.

Granted, this article is not written by a licensed professional therapist so take it for what you will. But the best teacher is experience and that experience is the motivation for this series of articles.

There will be a future post on the topic of a child witnessing an arrest but for now, let's talk about how one can explain an arrested parent to a child after the event has taken place.

Put Yourself In Their Shoes

For a child, their parent is someone they rely on for security and guidance. A child's world revolves around their parents and their parents are literally a part of them perceptually speaking. In guidance for police officers from the United States Department of Justice on explaining an arrest to a child at the time of the arrest, there are numerous indications that a child under the age of six may not be able to psychologically separate harm to their parent from harm to themself. "Whatever is happening to mom or dad is also happening to me."

One way to help them through this is to explain that it isn't their fault, that their behavior in no way had anything to do with their mom or dad being arrested. This may help the child to separate themself from the arrest that is happening to their parent and help them to conclude that there must be another reason that I am not aware of.

Children as old as 18 tend to fear the loss of their parent's protection after an arrest and may become concerned with issues of fairness and justice. This may cause the child in question to act out in anger towards others including police, teachers, or other children. As mentioned before, it is important to remind the child that they did nothing wrong. For an older child it can be helpful to allow them to express themself freely giving you the opportunity help guide them into acceptance as opposed to drawing conclusions.

Be Honest

At any age explain that the parent was arrested for allegedly breaking the law. Try not to go into any detail or express your opinions about the situation. Keep your emotions out of it if at all possible. Assure the child that their parent is not in any danger and that they are only being talked to by police. Remember that children find security in certainty and structure. Make sure they know what will happen to them, where they will go, how they will get to school, and who will help them with their homework. Most importantly remind them that their parent loves them and acknowledge the love they have for their parent as well.

Let This Be An Example

Children are smarter than we think they are. Allow them to learn from this situation by being honest and transparent about what the parent did wrong, carefully explaining that everyone has rules to follow and that there are consequences from breaking those rules. Be careful not to say judgemental things about the parent, even if you are really mad at them. Doing so can alienate the child.

Seek Counseling

As a Bail Bondsman, I have witnessed many children grow up having parents who were habitual criminals. It seems to me that children either learn from their parent's mistakes or use them as an excuse to repeat similar behavior. Family counseling can be an essential part of guiding the child through their difficult childhood, helping them to develope a healthy perspective and ensuring the best possible outcome.

As a former Bounty Hunter of more than a decade, I had the displeasure of arresting many parents in the presence of their children. It always struck me as odd that a parent can be so delusional about the impact that their actions and poor choices have on those around them, especially their own children. If mom or dad is out of touch with this reality, who can possibly counter it? If this is your situation, please, seek counseling.

Lets Get Them Home

If posting a Bail Bond is an option for your loved one, let us help get them home to their children. Good Guys Bail Bonds is available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Just give us a quick phone call and we will be right there to help you through this difficult time.

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