Can you think of anything more depressing than taking a 3-year-old to prison to visit her mom? That's what Teen Mom star Gary Shirley has on his agenda. Leah, the toddler daughter of Teen Mom Amber Portwood, will finally get to see her mother after months of being told she was "driving a Twinkie truck" (among other lies). It's about darn time!
I know, I said it was depressing. But that doesn't mean Gary and Amber should continue to lie to their toddler for the five years Amber is expected to remain a guest of the Indiana Department of Corrections. As uncomfortable as we all are with the idea of kids inside prisons, it's almost guaranteed to be better for the child in the long run.
Study after study has found that kids who maintain a consistent connection with their incarcerated parent have a better chance of success in the long run. The sadness and confusion over being separated from a beloved parent is lessened by the contact.
Think long and hard about it; tamp down that knee-jerk, "no way in hell would my kid ever see me in a jumpsuit." What do kids need in their lives?
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Consistency, right? That's what visiting Mom in prison will give Leah. After years of being thrown back and forth between Amber and Gary, Dad's decision to take her to visit her Mom means this kid will finally have something that makes sense, a semblance at least, of "normal" -- or as close as she's going to get, considering Mom chose prison over getting clean out in the real world. With the constant supervision of the guards, Amber and Gary won't even be able to squabble the way they always have in front of their daughter. Leah will actually get Mom AND Dad on their best behavior!
If anything, this is the perfect age for this to happen. At 3, Leah is still young enough to accept her parents' explanations of where Mommy is and why, without asking tough questions. As she grows, this will be "normal" to her.
And while Leah's well being should be paramount here, it doesn't hurt that this should help Amber with her rehabilitation. Watching her with Dr. Drew in her behind bars special, she seemed the most lucid and human she's been in years. You could tell that she was completely off the drugs. But there was still a sadness that went much deeper than simply being in prison. This is a girl who wants to be important to someone, who wants to do something right for someone.
Being able to physically mother Leah, even for brief visits, should fill that need in Amber, push her to get through prison, and come out on the other side as a better mom. And that, in the long run, will be good for this little girl too.
What do you think? If you were Gary, would you take Leah to visit her mom in prison?
Image via MTV