How to Rebuild Relationships With Family and Friends During Your Transition

Image of a father and young son writing together as a poignant representation of the crucial role relationships play in supporting individuals during and after incarceration.

Incarceration can have lasting effects on you, your friends, and family. Oftentimes, the separation can change the family dynamic or cause friends to fall out of touch. Research suggests that individuals with social support and positive family relationships tend to have better psychological wellbeing and a more successful transition into the community. Having people in your life to provide support during your transition is important, and there are several ways to build, repair, or enhance your relationships.

Be flexible

Separation will inevitably change any relationship, so it’s essential moving forward, that you handle them with patience and care. Once released, you may find that you are not the same person you used to be, and his can be true of your family and friends. It may take some time to readjust to your new reality, and at times, you may experience frustration and anxiety. Take things slowly. Have open and honest communication with your loved ones, and work on accepting the changes that have occurred during your absence.

Set boundaries

Boundaries are important for every type of relationship and critical to a successful reentry. It’s helpful to discuss realistic expectations that you have of others, as well as their expectations of you. Although sometimes uncomfortable to set, boundaries promote personal growth, responsibility, and respect. They also prevent enabling behaviors that lead back to old thinking and crime. Remember to maintain your boundaries and don’t be afraid to reinforce them if they are being crossed.

Find quality time

Make time for meaningful activities and interaction. Being around family and friends is different than being actively present and engaged. Create a plan of different activities, and make sure to honor these commitments. Be creative and discover new hobbies and interests with the people you love. New experiences are a great way to bond with others where you can learn and grow together. When you are building or enhancing your relationships, make quality time a priority and remain consistent with your plans.


The impact your incarceration has on your relationships may be tricky and hard to navigate, but worth your time and effort. Building and nurturing a positive support network will help you in your transition, and help your loved ones heal.  Use our free family and friends’ reintegration worksheet to help get you started.

Published On: September 7th, 2021|Categories: Relationship Building Resources|

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