The Infant-Parent Institute

New film by Michael Trout

While we have known for decades about the impact of separation and loss on infants and toddlers, there has been remarkably little research or discussion about what happens to a very young child whose parent goes to prison.  To further this discussion, Mr. Trout has produced a new film in the "Transitions" series entitled, "They Took My Parent Away:  Little Ones Affected by Incarceration Speak".  This 17-minute DVD attempts to portray the perspective of those unable to use adult words to express themselves about being present for an arrest, and about the cascade of losses that typically follow parental incarceration--even when the incarcerated person is barely known to the child.

In the introduction to the film, Mr. Trout reports:  "No matter how angry we are at those who commit crime, we must still face the fact that what happens next does not happen in a vacuum; the little ones at home are watching, listening, responding. We'll hear from those little ones again.  My hope is that we might decide to hear them now."   

The public debut occurred in Auckland, New Zealand at the first conference of the International Coalition for Children of Incarcerated Parents in 2017. The final version of the film is now available through The Knowledge Center at Chaddock, as a free download. 

Notice that a set of Study Questions is also available, at no charge (downloadable, on this site).  We have found that showing the film in parts (perhaps stopping after each of the five children "speak"), with time for processing at each pause, is very helpful.  The Study Questions may be of some help in designing the processing and discussion periods.  Showing of the film in one sitting is not recommended; our experience (admittedly limited, at this point) has been that the film can be a bit overwhelming, and can provoke defensiveness, including denial that little children could possibly have such mental representations and responses to loss of a parent through incarceration.   

To order a free digital download of "They Took My Parent Away:  Little Ones Affected by Incarceration Speak", contact  

Draft copies of a paper with supporting citations is available by emailing  This paper was published by Cambridge Scholars in the United Kingdom in 2018 as a chapter in Gordon, L. (Ed).  Invisible children:  Contemporary research and analysis on the children of prisoners. 

New Book by Michael Trout

Mr. Trout’s final book, This Hallowed Ground:  Four Decades in Infant Mental Health, as was released in 2019 as an audiobook by the Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health, to which the book was donated. It is now available for purchase, exclusively from the Michigan Association, at