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April 29, 2011

Thesis Thursday: Already?

I could’ve sworn it was like Monday, or Tuesday at the very latest.  This week has just flown by as I’ve tried to spend every possible minute working on my thesis.  As predicted, it’s not all gone according to plan since the insane sleep deprivation led to sickness.  But all things considered, I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made, though I won’t have my prospectus completed by tomorrow as I had hoped.

Since I’ve spent all week immersed in the literature (have I ever mentioned that I get just a little bit giddy when I see the words criminogenic needs, cause I do — one more sign that I’ve found my true calling, right?), I thought I would share a bit from a very interesting article.  The article, Juvenile offenders as fathers: Perceptions of fatherhood, crime, and becoming an adult (Shannon & Abrams, 2007), presents a series of in-depth interviews with juvenile offenders who have recently become fathers.  Reading it reminded me of one of the assumptions that students in our class this semester often had, at least at the beginning: people who go to jail shouldn’t get to see their kids; they’re bad guys so their kids will be better off without them.  Going into the class, most of the students assumed that if you really cared about your kids, you wouldn’t go to jail/prison in the first place.

But of course, most interviews with incarcerated fathers tell a very different story.  Here are a couple of comments from the article I mentioned above:

I’d do anything to support her (daughter).  I mean, that’s kinda how I got my charge.  Y’know, I was sellin’ drugs to kinda make more money than I was making . . . it’s like I’m justifying, too . . . it’s how I was thinking.  ‘Cause I’d do anything to get her stuff.

When I first saw  my son on my weekend and I wasn’t high, I wasn’t selling drugs, I wasn’t nothin,’ I was just payin’ attention to him it woke me up right there — like, damn, this boy’s gettin’ old and ever since I come back that day I been tryin’ to get my life together.

I especially love that last comment because I feel like it represents something universal about parenthood.  I don’t usually say damn beforehand, but at least once a day I think, she’s growing up so fast and there are just so many things I want to do better before she’s old enough to internalize all her mommy’s flaws.

I mentioned before about rejection from mothers shaping the lives of many incarcerated men.  But of course, the other half of the story is just how many of them had absent or uninvolved fathers, which motivates many of them to want to do better:

I certainly don’t want him growing up like I did, y’know, I’m going to be there for him ’cause my dad wasn’t there for me that much.

But should it really be surprising that it takes time to grow into a parental role when all you’ve seen are examples of what you don’t want to be or do.



  1. So, so awesome. Love those quotes. And I was very much reminded of a book I just read, HIDDEN by Helen Frost. It brings home the point that children love their incarcerated fathers, too, despite their failings. I posted my review of it on my book blog just moments ago:

    Comment by Alysa Stewart — April 29, 2011 @ 3:17 am

  2. I definitely say damn first. Damn, she’s getting big.

    Comment by neal — April 29, 2011 @ 4:16 am

  3. Great post thanks for sharing. Family is something that I truly care about in life. You have a great blog here I enjoyed coming here today.

    Comment by Changing Lifestyles — April 29, 2011 @ 4:57 am

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