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  • Beanca Newgent

    In October, I will have been incarcerated for 10 years. I also have a 13 year old boy named Lance. For the last 10 years I have had to take a backseat in raising Lance. Not by my own choice and due to the circumstances. I would have loved to raise him, however, my parents are the ones who stepped up into that role. I make suggestions on things such as punishment/rewards, how to handle situations, etc., but it is ultimately their decision on what or how they raise him.

    Even though I am a mother, it’s hard to do what I feel I need to, while incarcerated. I can’t really be the physical mother I want to be, so I have chosen to be a guide. I will get to that point in a minute.

    First, I want to talk about what started what I am talking about right now. I received a memo to do this interview if I was interested. There were a few questions, one of which was, What are you intentions as a mother? My first thought was, everyone is going to have the same answer. However, the more I thought about it, the more my first response changed. I thought about how not everyone has the same opinions or view points. I thought about how being a mother is not straight out of a text book.

    That thought is what took me to the Webster Dictionary. I looked up “intentions” and “mother.” I pulled out the information that I felt applied. Under intentions it stated, “plan of action. An aim that guides action. The import, significance, or thrust of something.” Under mother it stated, “female parent, creative source. Qualities attributed to a mother as capacity to love. To give birth to: be the mother of. To create: produce. To watch over, nurish and protect.” All that information is great if you want to have the surface or mask for a mother. However, there is much more depth to being a mother, because anyone can have a child. A mother is someone who is compassionate, understanding, able to learn from mistakes, able to admit when she is wrong, able to share feelings, to receive feelings/criticisms from her children, to help their children prepare for life, a protector, but also a free spirit and one who will let their child experience life for themself. Most of all, a mother is someone who cares nothing more than for her child to be happy, healthy, peaceful and…(illegible). I personally believe that communication and openness between a mother and child is the most important thing, and that it can be given to your child no matter where you are, what the distance or circumstances may be.

    Before I talk about how I apply my beliefs, let me tell you how I came to my beliefs. I was beaten off and on from the time I was born until I was 13 by my mother. My father was an alcoholic. I just had to suck it up and not say how I felt. Bad things happened and that was it, you acted normal after it was done. I became pregnant when I was 16 years old. I vowed to not be like my parents. I was so set on not being like them that I didn’t see my own life spiraling out of control. I wound up getting in trouble at 20 and received a lengthy sentence. Since, I have had time to focus on how to communicate and help my son to communicate.

    I want my son to succeed in life. Lance is 13 and in school. That is enough in itself. (Hormones and social status). I don’t want my conversations with him to be any more stressful to him than what he has going on. I talk to Lance like I would anyone else. When there is an issue, instead of yelling or pointing my finger at him, I simply ask do you think that was right or appropriate? What do you think you could have done differently? How did it make you feel? I ask these questions so that I know where he stands so that I may be able to better help him problem solve for a better solution. If I were to tell him that he messed up and how bad he was, it would be like pouring salt in an open wound. He would be less likely to listen to what I have to say, afterall, he knows he was bad. He got in trouble. If I keep my line of communication open then he is more likely to also.

    Another aspect of communication I work on with my son is being open to what he has to say. I want to know how he feels at all times and ultimately, I want him to be ok with how he feels. With both of us knowing his feelings about different situations.

    I can help him be mindful of how to express himself in those situations. I want him to be able to share his feelings not just act on them. One day his experiences now will help him in situations when he has a job. I feel if I can present him with the proper tools now, with practice he can use them successfully as an adult. It is a known fact that communication is important in any situation with other people. Poor communication is what causes arguments or worse.

    I wish more mothers could see how important giving good guidance, like communication skills can be more beneficial in the long run. Being an incarcerated mother has been hard and I wish there were more ways to have physical visits than preservation visits. Preservation visits are visits where your child can come in the facility to a room in the chapel. It is homey and has couches, tables, chairs, toys, video games, coloring books, TV, snacks and many other things. It is not like the typical visits in the visiting room. You can have these visits once a month for 2 hours, and certain people can have it for 4 hours. 2 hours isn’t much time, however, without the Pres. Center I would not be privileged with the fun I have with my son there. So thanks to the people who make that possible. There is also another program called Wee Ones. It is a dorm where mothers who have non violent crimes and 18 months or less, can keep their baby. Both of these programs require you to take parenting classes. The last thing that I would like to say is that I feel that any mother who has chosen to change, and there is a clean change in them, then efforts should be made to reunite the mother and child. I think that applies to mothers incarcerated or not. But, I also believe that stipulations should apply in all cases. With that, I feel that anyone incarcerated who has proven that they have changed should be given a chance for some relief. Everyone makes mistakes. We just all need to be guided or given the right tools to help us move in the right direction.

    (Typed by Amy Gastelum from a handwritten letter)
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