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October 11, 2015 10:05 PM

Just because Teresa Giudice is behind bars doesn’t mean she’s less involved in her daughters’ lives.

In fact, the Real Housewives of New Jersey Star, who will be released on Dec. 23, helped plan her daughter Gia’s eighth-grade formal this past June with the help of cousin Teresa, who said on Sunday’s premiere of The Real Housewives of New Jersey: Teresa Checks In that Giudice had sent multiple emails on the day of the event to ensure every detail down to the table cloths was perfect.

During the first episode in three-part special, viewers got an inside view of how the Giudice girls (Gia, Milania, Gabriella and Audriana) have been coping with their mom’s absence – and how she worked to make it up to them.

In a phone call with husband Joe, she stated clearly about her time away: “I don’t want it to affect them in any way.”

Daughter Gia said keeping a sense of normalcy went as far as telling the youngest daughters Gabriella and Audriana that Teresa is “working” as opposed to in prison, though Joe told Andy Cohen on Sunday’s Watch What Happens Live that all the girls are aware of what their mother is going through.

RELATED VIDEO: Joe Giudice Talks Teresa’s Life in Prison – Including Her Beauty Regimen

When it came to the planning for Gia’s party, though, Joe affirmed, “My wife, she doesn’t miss a beat, that’s for sure. … She’s a rock.”

“She lives for the visits on the weekend, when Joe and the girls can come visit with her,” said her attorney, James J. Leonard Jr., who later told a family member he has a more colorful take on Teresa’s prison-bound parenting style: “I tell Joe she’s like a crime boss – she barks out orders, and if you don’t do what she wants, she isn’t happy.”

And though Teresa’s prison sentence stipulates no Internet, limited phone time and unlimited email, she’s been able to stay in touch with her kids through personal touches.

In Sunday’s episode, Teresa, 43, arranged through friends to send Gia flowers and hired her own stylist – who gave the teen a heart-shaped diamond and pink sapphire necklace – to get Gia ready for her formal.

“It’s basically my mom’s heart next to me,” Gia said. “It definitely meant a lot to me and made me feel like my mom was here.”

Teresa also gave Gia a call on the night of the dance. “I’ve been thinking of you every minute, every second,” she said, prompting Gia to break down in tears.

Indeed, there was no shortage of tears during the episode, but Gia kept everything in perspective, saying, “It’s an eighth-grade dance. I still have senior prom.”

“[The girls] are holding up surprisingly well, but they miss their mother terribly,” Leonard previously told PEOPLE. “This is a very difficult situation, but this is a very strong family. I know the girls can’t wait to have their mother home.”

“If I didn’t hear her voice, coping with this situation would be so hard,” said Gia about the daily phone calls with her mother.

Teresa herself admitted during a phone call with Joe that the situation “breaks my heart. I never, never, never in my life would I have imagined not being there for my daughters. … If anything, through all of this, it just makes them stronger.”

But the girls’ father, who’ll report for his own 42-month sentence in February, said he has picked up the slack during his wife’s 10-month absence (even becoming a "cheer mom"): “I wouldn’t say [Teresa being in prison has] made me a better man; it’s made me step up to the plate and do things I never had to do before,” he told Cohen, 47. “You gotta adapt, make changes.”

The Real Housewives of New Jersey: Teresa Checks In airs Sundays (8 p.m. ET) on Bravo

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