Episode 2: The Parent

Audio

Transcript

Roxy Etta
How do you think the efforts that you made as a parent while you were incarcerated on the inside? How do you think those efforts affected your transition or what it was like when you got out?

Richard Hines Norwood
You know, I’m sure it affected my transition. But what did mostly for me was, it kept me believing in something while I was incarcerated, it can be very difficult not to succumb to prison culture while you’re there. And that be it and all I’m in the district consumed and entered into that world. Where it was harder was my heart was torn, you know, between having to be in prison and kind of walk and navigate through the culture there. And knowing that if my babies were hurt, I couldn’t get there. I there was nothing I could do. There was no day pass to go hug my kids. It made me more focused on what I could do. And when I if I ever got the chance to hold my babies again, I would never let go, I would never take for granted. Those days those times. And again, it it didn’t make me a putty parent. It made me a more dedicated parent to be the best player.

Roxy Etta
Welcome to Anywhere Dads, a podcast from University of Wisconsin Madison Extension with information and tips on how dads in jail can connect with their kids. This podcast combines the voices of dads in jail with experts in child development, parenting and incarceration. I’m your host Roxy Etta. Today on Anywhere Dads, we have Richard Hines Norwood as our guest, who is an expert on parenting and is a dad himself, who was previously incarcerated. He’s joining us virtually all the way from Portland today. And in this episode, we’ll talk about parenting styles and navigating the parent child relationship. Richard, thanks so much for being here. Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?

Richard Hines Norwood
My name is Richard and I am a program manager for Parenting Inside Out program from Pathfinder network.

Roxy Etta
Great. And are you’re a dad yourself? Right?

Richard Hines Norwood
I am I am a dad to two wonderful young women.

Roxy Etta
Okay, so the first thing that I have on our list is to talk about parenting styles. So the different types of parenting styles, could you tell us a little bit about that?

Richard Hines Norwood
A putty parent is someone who would actually lack discipline, or will lack the enforcement of discipline. And so the child would be able to come in, do whatever and there’s no, there’s no correction, there is no kind of bringing them back for re education or you know, any kind of information. The block parent, in contrast, would be complete rules, you know, without any flexibility without any regard to situation and scenario. So, for example, a child may sit in bed and play with the toy, you know, and the rules are, well, you know, spend time on a bed this and the other, without understanding that the child may be expressing something else, you know, and so instead of maybe engaging the child in conversation about why this is happening, the just are an enforcer, of rules. And in the middle, it would be just again, that that combination where both of those elements would exist cohesively, and kind of in harmony to bring about the healthiest results given a specific situation or is the backbone and what I found actually in my experience, is that the more that often acceptable for dads is the block right and so, we are conditioned and programmed to be rule setters and rule enforcers and you know, what to leave a lot of the emotional the emotional expression to, you know, the, mom, we move throughout the triad, you know, depending on scenario. There are absolutely times when you know, If it’s better to be a block parent when safety things like safety is a concern, or if your little one is experiencing a loss or a broken heart like that, then you want to mirror their, the character, you know, and be more of a putty parent to give them something softer and gentle. But most of the time to exist in that backbone category, because that’s the combination and the convergence of both of those.

Roxy Etta
Do you have any advice for dads who maybe turned to harsh discipline right now, but maybe would like to stop? Or like if it seems like it might be something that just kind of gets heated and happens in the moment? Do you have any tips for dads that would like to switch?

Richard Hines Norwood
Absolutely. One, one of the core principles of Parenting Inside Out is what we term emotional regulation. And that is a fancy way of saying take a adult timeout. Oftentimes, in kind of the heat or in a heightened moment of emotion, that’s really not the best time of engagement. Our minds become somewhat short circuited to the lower levels on our thinking. And, again, it’s a little deeper into science, but basically, the the crux of it is to say, you know, take a moment, take that moment, breathe, take a walk, come back reengage when you feel that, you know, you can be healthier in a situation. Because one of the other pieces that that happens Roxy is is neural attachment. And so when when those heightened moments of emotions happen if they’re met with harsh repercussion, and that becomes the expectation, and it becomes the expectation that it becomes a teacher that moving forward into their own lives. And so, when we are able to model taking that break, stepping back, then we also are creating a scenario of neural attachment there. And that becomes a teacher. So that when these little people encounter their own, you know, as they grow older and become teens, or they become young adults, when when they’re in their own heightened emotion, those scenarios, they’re able to emulate and remodel models, that works out.

Roxy Etta
Great. So it’s like the child sees how the parent reacts to a difficult situation. And then they learn that behavior from observing it, and then they model it themselves. Absolutely. Yeah. Great. Okay, the next topic that I have is talking about sort of switching gears here and talk, talking about love.

Richard Hines Norwood
Oftentimes, we pair it from how we were parented. Right? And there, I don’t feel like it’s vastly different that we love based on how we were loved, and that can even be in its absence, or where we have thought that it has been absent. And that the tools that we were provided, we take into our next relationships, and that relationship can be what with our little ones. And sometimes if we don’t, I mean, love is this catch all phrase, right? And sometimes, if we have an understanding or our definition, but the effects of it can be unhealthy, then we can impose that on to others. The reason I’m saying all this is because sometimes it seems a little silly, to have unconditional love in text, because we all kind of have a notion of what that’s supposed to feel like, but that’s not true. And what I think we’re really talking about is healthy expressions of love. You know, we’re talking about unconditional, I think we have to embrace that to say love without condition. That in times when there are heightened emotions or when, you know, my little one is not doing what I’m asking that it can be difficult to separate the person, this little person from this little person’s behavior. You know, we we always want to look at the person even if we need to have a conversation or discussion or correction about the behavior when They’re able to feel the fullness of love that’s directed specifically for them, then it gives them some additional tools to do the same for their other relationships, for peer to peer relationships, from romantic relationships, and even for the parental child relationship.

Roxy Etta
Great, so what would you say to a dad who is incarcerated about loving their child and how they can love their child from the inside?

Richard Hines Norwood
you know, what I’d say is hi, we, we love you. And I would say that you may have to be creative and clever, right, and how you express love, you may have to do some work on your own self love, but let your, your desire guide you, you know, into what’s available to you. You may not be there every day. But when you have access to phone calls, things like letters, pictures, you know, visit days, things like that, then, you know, I would submit take advantage of those. It’s everyone who loves you, is incarcerated with you. And this little person is no different. And you may only be able to give them what you can. And each person has to decide if that’s what they’re willing to give. But I would also say that these these young, developing persons, they remember they, to the degree that they can they understand the energy in the efforts that you put forth and toward building and sustaining relationship. And sometimes things like you know, Mom and Dad relationship sour, but that that child still will ask and remember, for you to be present with them and to support them and to do what you can.

Roxy Etta
If, if there is a dad who was concerned that maybe their child would understand what jail is, and they’re a little hesitant to interact or engage with their child while incarcerated, would you encourage them to still make that effort to choose love over and like, expressing love to their child and having that connection over the fear of the child understanding what jail is?

Richard Hines Norwood
I think, parents, dads for forget that these little people also care about our safety. You know that they have questions about whether or not we’re okay. And when we when we disappear. That’s a change to their whole world. If there is no, no age appropriate way of understanding that, then there’s a void created, between what I see and what I what I’m able to understand. Again, I offer that each person needs to know kind of walk through our own journey. But I would I would submit to those parents, again, those dads that you’re you’re missing an opportunity to one, do some self growth and development. Because it’s not easy. Not none of this is easy. But those little people can still benefit from having mom and dad who works through incarceration in their lives. Because what I think is the most important is that you’re experiencing incarceration, you are not incarceration, you are not your mistakes. You’re still Mom, you’re still Dad, you’re still caregiver, you know, whatever the scenario is, and no one even though they may have a love for that child is going to love them the way that mom and dad can.

Roxy Etta
Great. Well, thank you so much for being here today. Richard, we really appreciate all of your insight and experiences that you shared with us. It was great to have you.

Richard Hines Norwood
Anytime. Thank you so much. Yeah.

Roxy Etta
Anywhere Dads is a product of the University of Wisconsin Madison Division of Extension’s Human Development and Relationships Institute and was created by Anne Clarkson, Roxy Etta, Mary Huser, Maggie Kerr, Elizabeth Lexau, Kevin Murphy, and Ciara Walker-Morgan. Music composed, arranged and performed by Doug White, Madison, Wisconsin.

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