A Parenting Lesson from an Ex-Con


I spent some time recently with a friend of mine, George King. We really enjoy hanging out together, but George has had a rough life. He never knew his dad. He didn’t have a dad to teach him what it means to be a man…to teach him the difference between right and wrong…to love him. At age 13, he started selling drugs. At age 15, he had a child. At 16, he had a second child. At 16, he murdered two people. He was convicted for murder and spent the next 24 years in prison.

He got out of prison four years ago at the age of 41. He went into a program where he learned about the love of God and learned how to be a man of God. Not only was his heart changed, but his mind was changed as well. He now has a new mind-set—a new way of thinking, a new attitude. He graduated from the program, got his driver’s license, is working on his GED, got a job, and most importantly, he is now involved in his children’s lives—he is now a father to his once fatherless kids.

George is a product of his past, but he is not a prisoner of his past any longer.

Product of Your Past

Just like George, your mind-set as a man or woman is greatly influenced by your past. You are, to a certain extent, a product of your past. One of the greatest past influences on your mind-set as a father or mother is your father.

While we don’t want to dwell on it, it’s important to understand that your parents, especially your father, good or bad or in between, greatly influenced your life. Your answers to questions like these impact how you think about parenting: Did you grow up with your father involved in your life? Was he physically present? Was he emotionally present? Did he spend much time with you? What were his beliefs? Were he and your mother married? How did he treat your mom? Did he drink too much or abuse drugs? Did he discipline you? Did he discipline you in anger? Did he affirm you?

A New Mind-set

I can’t erase your way of thinking about parenthood. And I don’t want to. My guess is that you’ve learned many things over the years that have proven to be beneficial in your journey as a parent. Instead, I’d like to shift your thinking. I don’t know your story and your mind-set, so I don’t know what kind of shift you’ll need to make. For some, it may mean a slight shift. Or it might be a 180-degree about-face in your thinking as a parent—a brand-new way of thinking.

So what is this new way of thinking? It’s thinking of your role as a parent as being your job—your most important job— because it is. That should be your mind-set.

A New Mission

If you have the mind-set that being a parent is your most important job, then you’ve got to know your mission in your job, right? Think about it…what would you think of an executive if he didn’t know the mission of his company? Or a military general who didn’t know his mission on the battlefield? You’d expect them to fail, right?

So, what’s your mission as a parent? It’s clear and straightforward. To love your children well. To help you pursue that mission, here are 7 Love Actions to Show Your Child You Love Them.

And always remember, while you may be a product of your past, that doesn’t mean you are a prisoner of your past. Your past does not have to prescribe what you will be in the future. You’ve got an important job and mission as a parent. Pursue it with fierce resolve.

What kind of father did you have? How did that impact how you father your kids? Please comment below.


(Portions of this post are taken from my book, All Pro Dad: Seven Essentials to Be a Hero to Your Kids. To get your copy, check out AllProDadBook.com)

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.