We learn of some prisoners who, with so little to give, live out the changes in their lives wrought by turning their lives over to Christ by sharing a precious snack or even part of their meal. Please don't go sharing that with your incarcerated loved one urging them to give it a try. It can be quite dangerous and such risky behaviors should not be coached by someone not "on site" and who can not possibly understand the nuances and applicable facility policies affecting such choices. But we do need to understand that not all commissary nagging is just bored people with a bland diet wanting a little somethin' somethin'. But, then again, sometimes it is about boredom and getting a little reassurance that they are still important to someone in the free world. And sometimes it is continued manipulative behavior
It is like so many other issues for those of us who want to do the right thing and have an exceedingly difficult time knowing what that might be.
Here are some things I do believe:
a. Don't send money to a commissary account that is needed to pay rent, mortgage, utilities, food, savings for emergencies, car maintenance, health care, etc. In other words, meet your needs and the needs of those you care for before sending money to commissary accounts.
b. Don't brag to someone behind bars about buying a snazzy new car, concert tickets, vacations...you get what I mean. Mention what you are doing, but let the person who is incarcerated ask questions to learn how much they want to hear. If they have been away a long time and have the perspective to be glad that someone they love has a happy experience, they might find it comforting. For someone just getting adjusted it may feel cruel.
c. If you do not plan to be sending money to the commissary account just say it is not in the budget for you at this time. Don't expound on all your expenses or drone on about the miserable life you have, especially if part of your challenges are exacerbated by expenses related to the incarceration. If it becomes necessary to make this point, do it ever so gently. After all, they live with the situation 24-7.
d. Many times the best response is a soft, "I'm doing the best I can." Do not tolerate abusive behavior from your incarcerated loved one. If the incarcerated person can not master an abuse-free conversation when they are incarcerated, this is NOT going to be magically better if they are released. The kindest thing is to get help of yourself if this is a problem.
e. Talk all this over with God. The line is never busy, unattended or service turned off. God cares passionately about you and every challenge you face and has wisdom and strength available for the asking.