Tips for handling separation during the holiday season

Dr. Harland Kessaris

Dr. Harland Kessaris

The holidays are traditionally a time for families to be together. That message is in the songs, the movies, and even displayed in storefront windows. What happens when your family is separated by more than distance but by the physical and psychological barriers imposed by incarceration? How then do you cope with the holidays?

We recently sat down with Dr. Harland Kessaris to talk about how to cope with the absence of a loved one during the holiday season and other questions asked by you. As a psychologist who specializes in re-entry of incarcerated individuals back into family and society, he was able to provide some insight into handling this potentially alienating time of year.

Dr. Kessaris stressed the importance of open communication between children, the incarcerated, and those caring for the children, “As much as you can you should include them [the incarcerated],” said Kessaris. “I think people need to be reminded, encouraged, and assisted in doing that.” For Kessari, the key is to make a sincere effort to connect personally.

Here are some tips from Dr. Kessaris:

1. The best time to talk to children of the incarcerated about the holidays:

[audio:|titles=Best time to talk about it]

Link to mp3

2. How families of the incarcerated can include their loved ones during the holidays:

[audio:|titles=Including loved ones]

Link to mp3

3. How caregivers can help children of the incarcerated cope during the holidays:

[audio:|titles=Advice to caregivers]

Link to mp3

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS: What tips do you have for coping with this period?

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Psychologist to answer your questions on coping with Holiday Season separation

Tiffani N. Garlic attends the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She is a print student with a concentration on urban reporting. She graduates December 2008. Her work can be viewed on

About Tiffani Garlic