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My son is turning 28 in 10 days, and is sitting in jail awaiting his 1st court date/formal charges. How do I believe what he tells me when I'm reasonably sure he's lying?

My son was raised to be responsible, caring, respectable and honest. He had regular house chores, went to church and had a curfew. He wasn't spoiled but had what he needed, taught right from wrong and encouraged to join the military when he got out of school as we wanted him to have a chance in life and put distance between the so-called friends he managed to make.
Having said all of this, it's important to also tell you that I too served in the military, and I became a Corrections Officer several years ago. Now do you see my dilemma? My son will most assuredly spend time in prison. You can't be present during a murder, leave the scene, NOT report it, get picked up AND indicted 10 months later and think you'll be free. How do I separate my feelings & thoughts of my son from what I see and deal with on a daily basis when I'm at work? Yes, I treat inmates with respect, I'm firm as well as fair, but I'm not blind to what really goes on when they think no one can see. Some are truly trying to change and start over but more times than not they are full of it. How do I not analyze everything my son says? Many find God, or so they tell me, while locked up but they seem to leave him behind when they walk out the door and go home. Do I think my son should be in prison if he had something to do with someone's death? My answer is yes. He had chances to go to the police and explain what happened, he could have come to me and I would have gone with him if he was afraid. I think about what his silence during the last 10 months says to me...SMDH!
What do you think?

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Asked by SMDH_76548 at 12:50 AM on Apr. 1, 2013 in Adult Children (18+)

Level 3 (15 Credits)
Answers (12)
  • Both of my parents were Correctional Officers at different prisons when my brother was sent to prison (yet another that neither worked at). I don't think it changed their way of thinking when it came to my brother, but more when it came to their way of thinking with the inmates they dealt with on a daily it put more of a human factor there.

    With your son, I would not bring your job into your relationship with him. Obviously he is going to have to deal with people in your position, as you will have to deal with people in his, but you still need to keep a separation there. Treat him like your son, not an inmate you are in charge of.

    Answer by AllAboutKeeley at 1:02 AM on Apr. 1, 2013

  • I think you stand by your son no matter what but let the appointed people examine the facts and evidence and let them decide what his punishment should be. I know you WANT to believe him but fact is it doesn't really matter whether or not YOU believe him because what his future holds is not up to you.

    Answer by maecntpntz219 at 1:02 AM on Apr. 1, 2013

  • I was my kids music teacher in elementary school. I found I had higher expectations of my kids than the other students, I knew what they were capable of, and i was probably harder on them. I think this might be what you are experiencing. I suggest you think, is this how I would treat someone who was not my son? Would I be giving him more of a second chance if he was a stranger?


    Answer by musicmaker at 1:03 AM on Apr. 1, 2013

  • Easier said than done, but try to keep your professional life and your relationship as a parent separate. I assume you won't have to deal with your son in prison, since it seems like it would be a conflict of interest if you worked where he was incarcerated. Take what he says with a grain of salt so you don't set yourself up for disappointment. But also try to give him the benefit of the doubt because you know how he was raised, and hoefully he will go back to your shared values.

    Answer by Ballad at 1:27 AM on Apr. 1, 2013

  • Kids make mistakes. If he's a liar, go with your gut. If you are unsure, tread the middle line. You are in a tough spot. You can love him and not believe him too.

    Answer by jeanclaudia at 1:54 AM on Apr. 1, 2013

  • Thank you all so much for the input. It's a tremendous help. I love my son and I feel bad for him as I would anyone else who's lost their way. I do take what he says with a grain of salt. He is having a difficult time and calls me crying and studdering something terrible. I Thank God I do treat inmates the way I would my own children and I encourage them to think before acting on ideas and frequently suggest legal ways to make money as opposed to what they are use to, get a trade and finish school. I'll stand by my son, write him a few times a week and maybe occasionally accept a call from him.

    Comment by SMDH_76548 (original poster) at 2:29 AM on Apr. 1, 2013

  • I think it would help with his rehabilitation to join a support group/boot camp for former convicts if he gets out.. I've seen some on TV before so just do a search for it and see if any are close by. I say encourage him when he wants to improve but if you strongly believe he's lying then it's best not to enable this behavior and let him get the help he needs. HIs actions are a cry for help. Better to rehab him as a witness to crime than to wait until he commits the crimes himself. Perhaps he was just scared what might happen to him. This doesn't mean he's bad. There are stories all over of people getting scared at first to report something or to turn themselves in. You know him best so if the majority of his behavior has been good then I would believe him. There are people in my family that if they ever did something similar, it wouldn't be hard to decide based on their pattern of character.

    Answer by hellokittykat at 2:30 AM on Apr. 1, 2013

  • Also, my son and I are in different states so the likelihood of him being incarcerated where I currently work is impossible but he could end up at one I worked at a few years ago. As long as he minds his own business and is respectful to officers they won't give him a hard time, he'll have more issues with fellow inmates.

    Comment by SMDH_76548 (original poster) at 2:37 AM on Apr. 1, 2013

  • Good idea HelloKitty, that's a good idea. I'll suggest it to him in the future. I guess time will tell how sincere he is. Right now he looks like a nightmare of a thug with the crazy hair and tattoos and when it was suggested that he go back to his old look by cutting his hair and attempt to look presentable in court he told a family member he wasn't trying to look like a choir boy....smdh. In the same breath he says he wants to mentor kids and explain why not to join gangs. After sitting in jail and thinking a while he may decide to cut the hair and be ready to do the right things.

    Comment by SMDH_76548 (original poster) at 2:52 AM on Apr. 1, 2013

  • Well, I guess the question is, are you having trouble believing him as a corrections officer or as his mother? I know, as a corrections officer, you probably automatically don't believe inmates because...well, they're in prison, so they had to do something to get there (granted, some innocent people are convicted, but generally speaking, most inmates have done something to end up in prison). But setting that aside, as his mother, do you believe him or not? If you don't believe him, you don't believe him. You can't force yourself to believe him. You can still love him, and be there for him, and support him without being accepting of what he did. He made a mistake, a pretty major one from the sounds of it, and though he deserves to pay the price (if in fact he did something wrong), but that doesn't mean he doesn't deserve the love and support of his family and friends, or a second chance, if he's willing to change and try it.

    Answer by wendythewriter at 8:47 AM on Apr. 1, 2013

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