There is a Texas state penitentiary just outside the city limits of Childress. Since the opening of the prison fifteen years ago, there has been a group of men from the church that has gone out each week to teach a Bible study. We are currently teaching a parenting class in Monday nights to about 20-30 men.

This past Monday night the subject was how to be a father. One young man in his early 20’s said something about being a father that floored me. I wrote down his quote word for word. He said this…

“I take full responsibility for my actions and I am here because I did something wrong. BUT I can’t help but believe that had my father been there to influence me, to crush that prideful and disobedient spirit, I would not be sitting here in this prison today!”

Here’s a young man that’ll spend his next 25-30 years in a prison who believes with all his heart, had he just had a dad who was around to be a dad, he wouldn’t be in prison. According to these facts, he’s right:

  • CRIME: Even after controlling for family background variables such as mother’s education level, race, family income, and number of siblings, as well as neighborhood variables such as unemployment rates and median income, boys who grew up outside of intact marriages were, on average, more than twice as likely as other boys to end up in jail.
  • DRUGS & ALCOHOL: Even after controlling for the effects of gender, age, race-ethnicity, family income, and residential mobility, teens in single-parent and stepparent families were 2 times more likely to use illegal drugs compared to teens in intact, two-parent married families.
  • EDUCATION: Even after controlling for differences in income, children who were born out of wedlock and either remained in a single-parent family or whose mother subsequently married had significantly poorer math and reading scores and lower levels of academic performance than children from continuously married households.
  • POVERTY: Single-parent families are five times as likely to be poor as married-couple families. In 1999, 6.3 percent of married-couple families with children were living in poverty, compared to 31.8 percent of single-parent families with children.

I ran across this Top 10 List on

How to Be A Better Dad…

  1. Respect Your Children’s Mother: One of the best things a father can do for his children is to respect their mother. If you are married, keep your marriage strong and vital. If you’re not married, it is still important to respect and support the mother of your children. A father and mother who respect each other, and let their children know it, provide a secure environment for them. When children see their parents respecting each other, they are more likely to feel that they are also accepted and respected.
  2. Spend Time with Your Children: How a father spends his time tells his children what’s important to him. If you always seem to busy for your children, they will feel neglected no matter what you say. Treasuring children often means sacrificing other things, but it is essential to spend time with your children. Kids grow up so quickly. Missed opportunities are forever lost.
  3. Earn the Right to Be Heard: All too often the only time a father speaks to his children is when they have done something wrong. That’s why so many children cringe when their mother says, “Your father wants to talk with you.” Begin talking with your kids when they are very young so that difficult subjects will be easier to handle as they get older. Take time and listen to their ideas and problems.
  4. Discipline with Love: All children need guidance and discipline, not as punishment, but to set reasonable limits. Remind your children of the consequences of their actions and provide meaningful rewards for desirable behavior. Fathers who discipline in a calm and fair manner show love for their children.
  5. Be a Role Model: Fathers are role models to their kids whether they realize it or not. A girl who spends time with a loving father grows up knowing she deserves to be treated with respect by boys, and what to look for in a husband. Fathers can teach sons what is important in life by demonstrating honesty, humility and responsibility. “All the world’s a stage…” and a father plays one of the most vital roles.
  6. Be a Teacher: Too many fathers think teaching is something others do. But a father who teaches his children about right and wrong, and encourages them to do their best, will see his children make good choices. Involved fathers use everyday examples to help their children learn the basic lessons of life.
  7. Eat Together as a Family: Sharing a meal together (breakfast, lunch or dinner) can be an important part of healthy family life. In addition to providing some structure in a busy day, it gives kids the chance to talk about what they are doing and want to do. It is also a good time for fathers to listen and give advice. Most importantly, it is a time for families to be together each day.
  8. Read to Your Children: In a world where television often dominates the lives of children, it is important that fathers make the effort to read to their children. Children learn best by doing and reading, as well as seeing and hearing. Begin reading to your children when they are very young. When they are older encourage them to read on their own. Instilling your children with a love for reading is one of the best ways to ensure they will have a lifetime of personal and career growth.
  9. Show Affection: Children need the security that comes from knowing they are wanted, accepted and loved by their family. Parents, especially fathers, need to feel both comfortable and willing to hug their children. Showing affection everyday is the best way to let your children know that you love them.
  10. Realize that a Father’s Job Is Never Done: Even after children are grown and ready to leave home, they will still look to their fathers for wisdom and advice. Whether it’s continued schooling, a new job or a wedding, fathers continue to play an essential part in the lives of their children as they grow and, perhaps, marry and build their own families.

Just to sum it all up… “Be a Dad!”

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Article by Trey Morgan

I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast. Read 1182 articles by
32 Comments Post a Comment
  1. The Preacher's Household: says:

    James spent some time in prison – as a crisis counselor. We are quick to judge lives when it is probably not their actions that should just be judged, I think parents of juvenile offenders should be made to go to parenting classes at a minimum. When he was a probation officer, I would say the parents were a big part of the crime. Good list it applies to moms too.

  2. Brian Nicklaus says:

    great info,
    since I grew up without a dad, I am very aware of how I parent my kids and am grateful for the time I have.
    but can always use advice and reminders

  3. Neva says:

    Your statistics haunted me as a young widow and a single mother of boys. Many hours were spent in prayer begging God to send godly male role models into our lives to keep my boys from becoming statistics. It is a rough, rough place to be.
    Thank you for your post.

  4. Ancient Wanderer says:

    You did good :)

    And, I guess I’ve been in a fog. I almost didn’t recognize the site… I really like the look.

    You know, I remember the first time I put my son “in place” when he was a young teen and said something to his mother that was not respectful. I explained to him privately in terms he still remembers that basically said [it was a much longer conversation :)] “his mom” is “my wife” and I won’t tolerate ANYONE treating my wife that way.


  5. The Preacher's Household: says:


    So much good stuff. It is almost overwhelming to think of all the things on that list.

    I would like a little imput for all of you. (I don’t mean to take over your blog) We sit at the table for at least one meal aday and try for more when we can. The kids eat so fast and seem so ready to move on. Will it slow down? We talk about the activities of the day and yet it seems like there should be more. Any thoughts?


  6. TREY MORGAN says:

    I always wondered how much time James spent in prison :)

    I guess you can probably tell that I’m pretty passionate about preaching and teaching on “fatherhood.” I just don’t think we know how important a father is.

    Neva… while those stats are haunting, I know that you know, that the stats don’t mean that all children without fathers turn out bad. Infact some of the best people I know were raised by single mom. I always worry that when I write something like this the single moms will think, “I’m in trouble.” Not so. I sure don’t want to beat up on them. I just want the dads to step up and be dads. Make sense?

    AW, I like your story. Can I add, “been there and done that too.”

  7. Brian Nicklaus says:

    James I cant add much,
    our kids are still small enough to strap in. they don’t leave till we unbuckle them.

    unless you wanted to try that with the older kids..

  8. Liz Moore says:

    Another great list of do’s :)

  9. Jeff Slater says:

    Excellent post, Trey. I’m saving this one to share with others.

  10. TREY MORGAN says:

    James, That’s just kids. The fact that you are having a meal together is what matters. We try and have one meal together a day. Sometimes we have 2, but we always try to have at least 1.

    Are meals are pretty fast too, but we still pray together and eat together. There are times that we’ll play games like: What did you learn in Bible class, or what’s your favorite movie or which was your favorite vacation. That helps some. Just the fact that you are doing “meals together” says a lot.

    Neva… Brian was raised without a dad and he turned out alright (unless you ask Lisa she’ll argue other wise) :)

  11. Neva says:

    I knew what you meant Trey and I didn’t feel beat up on all. And while I knew those statistics were mandatory–they are still one more thing a single mom carries in her mind. Raising godly children is difficult under the best circumstances but even more difficult when circumstances are less than best. It is much more difficult to raise children when your heart is broken, your strength reduced by at least half and the worries of day to day living are all on your shoulders. Statistics didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. To me, it was just as if I had a child with allergies who would more likely have emergencies related to anaphalactic shock–extra special cares had to be taken–same with single parent families. Extra effort must go into making good friends, attending christian activities, etc.
    There are also some real positives about being a single parent. I will never take Ned and what he does for me for granted. And I never judge other single parents. I am sure they are doing the best they can. I pray for them and when I see ways to help, I do so. It was a good expansion of ministry for me.
    Sorry, if I made you feel bad—just putting another spin on it.
    I always enjoy your posts, Trey.
    Keep up the good work.

  12. Bobby Cohoon says:

    Good job Trey, and from one who is NOT a dad, I can tell you that three are always children that look up to us also and we need to put many of these things in practice also!


  13. Brian Nicklaus says:

    thanks for the kind words Trey,

    or unless you consider having to see a shrink and take crazy pills “alright”


  14. lisa leichner says:

    I didn’t really have much to add to your post, so I was waiting for some of the comments to see if I had more to say (I almost always do, don’t I?!).

    Bobby, just wanted to say thanks for the ways you help out moms in your community … I’m sure you’re a blessing to many.

    Trey, don’t you put words in my mouth! I never said Brian didn’t turn out all right!

    Neva, thanks for sharing the wisdom you’ve gained from your experiences with the rest of us. You bless us all. Love you!!

    James, I’m sure I don’t have anything to offer that you don’t already know, but I think probably what Trey said about just having the meal together, no matter how short it is — that is what’s important at this stage. I can remember as a teenager still having meals together with the family — torn between the teenage view that it wasn’t really “cool” to be enjoying time with the family and the desire to feel the love and acceptance I was always given by my family. And we really had a great time! I remember so much laughter. And I’m sure that it is a MUCH better habit to start when the children are young than to try & start it when they’re older (as are most habits & disciplines you try to start when the children are young). So I think we’re off to a good start if we get everyone sitting down at the same time, even if the meal only lasts 10 minutes.

    And this is off the subject, but I remember a story my Dad used to tell about when he was old enough & big enough that he could have hurt his mother if he so desired. His father made sure that under no uncertain terms was he to ever hit his mother. I think that’s an example like AW’s that men need to make sure their children always respect their mothers, starting at a young age, so that when they’re older & bigger, the respect is still there and Moms don’t have to be afraid of their big sons. :)

    Okay, so now that I’ve put everyone to sleep …

  15. lisa says:

    Brian, that’s not funny.

  16. Bob Bliss says:

    When I was about 14 my Mom and I were joking around one day. She went and got her belt which I thought was part of the joking around. I took it away from her. When Dad got home I found out she wasn’t joking around. I don’t know if my folks remember that incident but I do. It had a profound effect on me. The lesson AW taught his son was taught to me. Over the years I have been amazed at how many things I do that my father did. I knew that my role as a father was vital in the development of my children – all because of my Dad’s role in my life.

  17. Brian Nicklaus says:

    sorry, lisa and anyone else, if my personal snarky comment was out of place.

    i didn’t mean to pick on trey or anything either.

  18. TREY MORGAN says:

    Lisa … glad you hung out and finally made some comments. I thought the “Brian Comment” might draw you out :) As for comments, I like what you said. You added good stuff. Thanks.

    Bob – It’s pretty obvious that Lisa had a good mother and father. She was blessed to be raised in a good family.

  19. The Preacher's Household: says:

    I really appreciate the times when James lets the kids know that they should respect me. That is one of my jobs as well – making the kids respect him. This includes not bad mouthing him or disrespecting him myself in front of the kids. I should promote him as a dad by calling them down and reminding them what a great dad he is. Sometimes I do this just by reminding them to say thank you for little things he does for them/us.
    His prison time lasted three long years… that is another story.

  20. Monalea says:

    I enjoyed what you wrote. Number 10 was my favorite “Realize a Father’s job is never done.” Mothers and fathers alike think that because they didn’t do so well as parents when their’s were young, that it is too late. Not so, there is still time as long as you are alive to practice being a good parent; with more Actions than Words.

  21. TREY MORGAN says:

    If you guys haven’t been by Monica’s blog today…. you need to. What a love story. A great lesson about love, respect and marriage.

  22. Mommysmart says:

    Hey Trey!

    I am reading a little late today. This is an AWESOME post. Every dad should read it.

    Thanks for the comments about my post. I have yet to find a novel written with the kind of love story that I have witnessed all of my life. I recently recorded the two of them talking about their life together and plan to make a DVD. I will be sure to share when it is complete.

    Again, really enjoyed this post!

  23. Mommysmart says:

    Actually this is Daddysmart, but I wanted to comment on this post Trey because I feel that Christian men need to stand up and not only be great dads but build bridges and relationships in our communities so that we can help multiple young men. Is it our job to raise another man’s son? Some say no, and I hate the comment from the people I work with when they say ‘it is not my job to be their parent.’ I say yes.
    I work with many young men, and I believe that I truly have the opportunity to make a difference in their lives. The school I work at is 68.7% economically disadvantaged and although I do not know the percentage it would be faster for me to point out the ones who have a dad at home as compared to the ones who don’t.
    We strive to teach five life skills we feel are important in our program to these young men first and foremost.
    It is truly alarming how young people only see things in shades of gray and do not feel remorse unless they are caught.
    Where am I going with this? Young men need Men to take notice of them. I guarantee they are watching us in everything we do. What a shame it would be not to be mindful of this at all times. I know many who let their language and behavior standards slip in social settings. There are still young men wherever you are and we need to be mindful of this. Even if you are not their father we need to take time to build relationships with the young men in our communities. If you feel convicted to teach a life lesson to a young person then you should when the opportunity presents itself. Recently me and my kids were playing at the park. There were 3 14 to 15 year old males hanging out there which is fine. One began to cuss outloud and carry on in a negative manner. I went over in a non-confrontational manner and talked to him about it. I don’t know if he was shocked or intimidated that another person he had never met actually cared about his well being and how he presented himself. If you are scared they might beat you down or cuss you out say a prayer and trust that the holy spirit will guide your words and help you make a positive influence in his life.
    Never pass up an opportunity to help a young man. Will they be receptive? Sometimes yes and sometimes no but what matters is if you do not try then you will for sure not make any difference at all.

  24. TREY MORGAN says:

    Amen DaddySmart. AMEN. I appreciate you taking the time to share what’s on your heart.

    Well said.

    PS – You’re right about young men looking up to older men. My two oldest sons get cards occasionally in the mail from others encourageing them and supporting them. They usually read them and lay them down somewhere as a typical teen would. But here recently they got a card from one of our young 28 year-old deacons who’s a new dad and an all-around cool guy. Both of them read their cards and I noticed that they both put their cards in their “important” things box. Neither laid them down or threw them away. It was the first time I’ve noticed them keeping a card from someone other than their mom or dad.

    I thought that was really special and said a lot about how important it is for older men to encourage our younger.

    Thanks again DaddySmart

  25. lisa leichner says:

    For the record, Brian & others, I wasn’t really reprimanding you; it was teasing. Just don’t want you to feel bad. When I reread that tonight I thought I seemed harsh; maybe I should have put a smiley or whatever on the comment. If I were really calling you out on that, I would have done so privately. Just wanted to apologize for sounding harsh.

    Trey, you were right to think your Brian comment would draw me out — but I don’t need too much egging on!

    I didn’t get Dad’s story completely straight, but at least he told it for y’all. It’s funny that he said he doesn’t know if his parents remember it, but it made a profound impact on him … because obviously it made an impact on me too (even if I mixed up the details a bit). My Dad showed me how to respect others in many ways, one of them being the way he showed his own parents respect. Trey, you’re right to say that I’m very blessed to have been raised in the family I was raised in. I have had close relationships with my grandparents (though I wish distance didn’t keep me from having a closer one with my Dad’s parents), and they have influenced me in many ways, most of all in the way they raised their children (my parents). I hope and pray that I can keep up the legacy.

    I really enjoyed the comment from DaddySmart — Monica, you should drag him to the computer more often. 😉 It’s a great reminder for all of us to “share the love” with others — I love the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child.” I think Christians especially should have the attitude that it’s their job to love and help train children that aren’t even theirs.

    Sorry for taking up so much space on your post today!

  26. Stachia says:


    For the record I love your lessons on parenting, espically the ones on Dads. I never feel like I am being fussed at, I just wish that my kids had been exposed to that type of parenting. I remember when Todd left praying that God would put Godly men in the life of my children that could influence them. God answered those prayers abundtantly. Thank you for being one of them. The boys keep the cards they get in my Bible, Cam said that way they always knew where they were. It is encouraging to me as well to read those cards. As for the list I think I’ll print it off and keep to give to the boys later. Great post.


  27. Brian Nicklaus says:

    i just got a copy of “To own a dragon: reflections on growing up without a father”

    by donald miller, same guy who wrote blue like jazz, emergent, cool, guru, preachers guy,

    I haven’t read the other stuff, but I will let you know about this one when I finish it.
    may be a good resource

  28. Anonymous says:

    This post is excellent!!! I’ve been passing it along. Wish I had more time to talk but…can’t. Want to participate more but my own computer is having problems.

    Just wanted to let you know all is well. I’ll be back when I can. I’m still reading each day. Loved the post on prayer also!!!!!!! I’ve been passing it on too. Gotta go.

    Wait…One quick comment about the fatherhood issue. I hope dads realize their importance not only to their sons, but also to their daughters.

    Trey, I have noticed that my teen has also kept some cards and personal notes from some of the guys in the church. I think it’s great when someone takes the time to connect with a teen. I’m just the mom and sometimes a young man needs a male perspective.

    Really, gotta go now!

  29. lisa leichner says:

    I read Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz. I’ll be interested to hear what you think about this other book, Brian.

  30. lisa says:

    Wondered where you’ve been, NB!

  31. TREY MORGAN says:

    NB … I’ve worried about you. You just kind of disappeared. Glad to hear from you and I’m glad you’re okay.

  32. NB says:

    Thanks, Trey. You are very kind. I really appreciate your concern. Looking out for your congregation AND your blog readers… pretty amazing!

    Sorry – when I made the last comment I had forgotten the fact that the father/daughter issue had been addressed in 5. Be a Role Model.

    That’s what I get for trying to do too many things at one time!

    I totally agree with the man at the prison that you quoted. I used to get so irritated with people, (mostly friends), when they wanted to blame their problems on their parents. I wanted to tell them to grow up… that we all get to a point, sometime in our lives, when we have to take responsibility for ourselves and stop blaming our parents. But I realize, now that I am older, that while we are all responsible for our own actions, the lack of good parenting role models has a deep and long-lasting influence on our decisions.

    Just my thoughts…


About Me

Trey Morgan Here are my thoughts about marriage, family, raising children, humor, faith and the life God intended for us all. I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast.

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