With the incarcerated men I mentor, I have all the new men write letters to their family and friends and ask them one important question.”When was the last time someone gave them a compliment and thanked them?” See in my world men don’t compliment or tell other men how much they appreciate them or thank them for helping them. Incarcerated men don’t do many verbal compliments. I’m trying to change that, because that hardness and lack of emotion incarcerated men learn from the conditions and ways prison life makes them, normally carries over to their relationships with their families, children and the women that support them. In my word the harder and meaner you are the more respected you are. Personally speaking I haven’t smiled in over 10yrs outside of my mentoring program inside of a classroom like setting. There is nothing to smile about and I’m on guard 24/7. At all times I must maintain a reputation as a man that don’t play games or deals with dumb shit.
I have over 20 new men that are 2 months into my 4 month mentorship write letters to their girlfriends, wives and older children. They asked them in a letter “Be honest when was the last time I gave you a compliment?” I had the men copy the responses so I could use them in the program. Here is an excerpt of what was talked about after I received back all the responses:
“Ok I have all the responses back. The majority of answers from wives and girlfriends were “Hey why you asking me this when you never compliment me for holding you down? Or from the children “Dad you don’t ever tell me thank you or you appreciate me. You tell me you Love me yet never that you appreciate me.” Now we all agreed I wouldn’t say the names of the men whose women and kids wrote back. But I see some of you with tears in your eyes and others that cant look me in my face when I just read all the responses as you know its your family and kids. The one that stands out the most is the response from a wife that said “Well you never give me any compliments, or thank me for holding you down and taking care of the kids by myself with no help when you have a 12 year sentence. I am used to it.” I be damn I see why most your names are never called at mail call, you get no visits, cards, pics nothing but a few emails and you call once in awhile. You men must understand your in here and your family and women are out there and they have lives and some harder than others yet they go through hardships just like you. It’s a MUST no matter what, that you do better and give more effort in thanking the people in your life while your in here. You men must not only learn how to show appreciation yet you must also learn how to listen attentively to your woman and children’s words. In most cases people will tell you how they want to be treated if you pay attention. I know all of us me included hate being here but WE must always take the time and show the people who are 100% with us we appreciate them. You know how you feel when someone writes you or tells you something nice so do the same with the people you love in your life! Remember they loved you before you came to prison and don’t let this place destroy your relationships with people on the outside.