Advice please!


#1

I am seeking advice.
I wasn’t sure where it would be best to post this, so I thought this would be a good starting place. I have a nephew that lives several hours away, and he is currently in jail until, I think, December. A long story short, I don’t know if he was really raised with much spirituality or religion. My sister has been in and out of counseling with him for years, he has had problems with drugs, alcohol, and depression. I think the depression is really the root of a lot of his issues. He was never violent, but as a teenager he eventually dropped out of school, but not before stealing some items from the school, as well as from a neighbor’s house. Well, he’s now 21 years old, and he wasn’t taking his probation seriously, and that’s how he’s in jail.
I know he was baptised, but a few years ago he made the comment that he isn’t Catholic anymore, and I said that you can’t just “erase” your baptism. I don’t think he has a faith at all.
Sorry, I this was supposed to be short, but it’s getting longer with each word! There are a lot of other issues I could bring up, but I think you get the picture. I haven’t really talked a whole lot with him over the past several years, so I don’t know if anything I could do in his life would have much merit. My sister just had to sort of wipe her hands of him because she has bailed him out so much. I’m sure my sister realizes many mistakes she has made in raising him, but she’s just exhausted, and it’s so painful for her to see him in jail.
I was in adoration today and I just couldn’t get him off my mind. I am going to St. Louis (where he is) next weekend and I thought about going to pay a short visit. I dont know what I will say to him, or if he will think I’m dumb for “taking an interest in him”. I’m just so scared for him in there.
I’ve been praying novena’s for him, but I thought maybe there was something else I could do. Maybe if he knew that there is someone who hasn’t given up on him. I want his safekeeping in there, but I also want so much for him to turn to God and turn himself around. Is it hopeless? I thought if I could take him a good book or something, that maybe it would help. I was hoping for some advice, especially from people that have been through something comparable or about his age. Any suggestions?
-Tamara


#2

Tamara -

My heart goes out to you. This is an incredibly difficult and painful situation. I think you should definatly go to see him. He may not appreciate it in the moment but eventaully he will remeber that you reached out.

We are called to be the personification of Christ’s love for one another. That doesn’t mean you should excuse or dismiss his behavior but certainly it means that you show him you care and that he is important.

As for books - I am sure there are many good Catholic boooks that others will recommend but I am not sure he is ready for that yet. I would recoommend giving him Wild at Heart by John Eldredge. It’s not a Catholic book and it gets a few things wrong theologically, but it has great things to say about what it means to be a man. That, after all , is what you nephew is struggling to figure out.

Other than that? Be his St. Monica - continue to communicate with him and pray.

Pax


#3

Prayers will help him the most.

When you go to visit him, see if you could bring him anything, candy, some toiletries, etc. Perhaps homemade cookies would be nice. Being in prision is tough.

Have you ever thought about the bible if you want to give him a book? Many people never have one of their own. If you get him one as a gift you may want to consider a nicer leather-bound one, not a paperback that makes it look every-day. Of course if you arn’t at that point in yall’s relationship it might not be a good idea. Just let the Lord guide you.


#4

Until he is willing to address his alcoholism and drug addiction, nothing is going to help. I would ask him if he has had enough and if he says yes then steer him in the direction of AA. I found my sobriety with AA, which reintroduced me to spiritual principles and in turn led me back to the Holy Mother Church.

Oh, and of course he is depressed - I was too. After all , life spent in the bottle or on the pipe is damned depressing…:slight_smile:

If he says to you “I’m not an alcoholic or a drug addict” I would point out to him that social drinkers rarely end up behind bars.


#5

I feel your pain. My brother is in prison. He is in year 2 of a 7 and a half year sentence. You can go visit your nephew but I doubt that you can take him anything like cookies. Everything has to be approved and they are very picky about what inmates are allowed to have. You could always see if he has money for comissary. I am not sure how all this works but I guess you send money to the jail in his name and they distribute it to him so that he can go to the little store and buy approved items. The jails and prisons are very strict so you will definitely want to check out what is and is not allowed. All of the facilities that my brother has been in have a very strict dress code and only allow you to bring in change for the vending machine if contact visits are allowed. Most jails don’t allow contact visits so you won’t be able to give him anything. We subscribed to some magazines for my brother but they have to come directly from the publisher. When someone is incarcerated, they usually enjoy receiving letters from the outside world. I don’t usually have much to say to my brother so I will find jokes to send him or give him tidbits of wisdom from books that I am reading. My brother is 36 and still is unwilling to admit that he has an alcohol problem or an anger problem. He has taken some classes but I don’t think they have helped much. I hate seeing him incarcerated but at least he can’t hurt himself or anyone else. Since your nephew is only 21, there is definitely hope for him especially if he wakes up sooner than later. How long is your nephew supposed to be incarcerated?


#6

[quote=ConcernCatholic]I feel your pain. My brother is in prison. He is in year 2 of a 7 and a half year sentence. You can go visit your nephew but I doubt that you can take him anything like cookies. Everything has to be approved and they are very picky about what inmates are allowed to have. You could always see if he has money for comissary. I am not sure how all this works but I guess you send money to the jail in his name and they distribute it to him so that he can go to the little store and buy approved items. The jails and prisons are very strict so you will definitely want to check out what is and is not allowed. All of the facilities that my brother has been in have a very strict dress code and only allow you to bring in change for the vending machine if contact visits are allowed. Most jails don’t allow contact visits so you won’t be able to give him anything. We subscribed to some magazines for my brother but they have to come directly from the publisher. When someone is incarcerated, they usually enjoy receiving letters from the outside world. I don’t usually have much to say to my brother so I will find jokes to send him or give him tidbits of wisdom from books that I am reading. My brother is 36 and still is unwilling to admit that he has an alcohol problem or an anger problem. He has taken some classes but I don’t think they have helped much. I hate seeing him incarcerated but at least he can’t hurt himself or anyone else. Since your nephew is only 21, there is definitely hope for him especially if he wakes up sooner than later. How long is your nephew supposed to be incarcerated?
[/quote]

I think he gets out in December.
By the way- Thanks for your concern and replies everyone!
Yes- you pretty much described the rules for the jail where my nephew is. If I want to send him a book, then it would have to be through the book store. And the visits are pretty much talking through a phone receiver. But I would still like to visit him. I think he’s okay though. I am very cautious about sending him money, because I don’t want him to think that I’m another “money tree”. But I think he enjoys getting letters, as well as writing them. I think he’s pretty aware of his problems, especially the alcohol and drug abuse. Unfortunately, some folks still seem to fall into the same bad habits even when they know they exist- and I would say he fits into this category.
I am continuing to pray for him because I think that’s probably the most effective thing I can do. I will also pray for your brother, too.
Thanks- Tamara


#7

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.