The Parent Trap

“I read the Bible to the kids every day,” he said, “and we’d pray on the way to school every morning. I had a Lotus, and Michael and Lindsay would cram in the front seat, sit on each other’s lap with the seat belt on, and we would pray. And they were only in junior high school.”

But he wasn’t done with prison. His daughter’s acting career began taking her around the country, and Mr. Lohan found himself behind bars again in 1997—he had violated his parole to visit Lindsay in Los Angeles after she had been hospitalized with asthma. The trip cost the concerned father another year away from his family.

From 1998 to 2005, Mr. Lohan was a free man. His daughter’s career was flourishing, but his marriage to Dina was not. Mr. Lohan said that his daughter’s success, which had been solidified with Freaky Friday, attracted hangers-on to the Lindsay gravy train, including members of Dina’s family. He is convinced that his wife’s friends and family conspired to split the couple apart, especially after he voiced concern that Lindsay affairs should be handled by professionals, not family.

Long story short: Tension between Mr. Lohan and his wife’s family came to a head when Mr. Lohan and Dina’s youngest brother, Matt Sullivan, got into a fistfight outside Mr. Lohan’s Long Island home, during a communion party for Mr. Lohan’s son, Dakota.

Mr. Lohan was charged with attempted assault. He says he was defending himself. While awaiting sentencing, he had the aforementioned vehicular run-in with the pole. He was charged with driving while intoxicated and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.

He says his third trip to the clink was the hardest. His daughter’s new role as America’s favorite girl-gone-wild was a difficult burden to bear. On prison bulletin boards, inmates would tack up sultry pictures of Lindsay from Maxim magazine, or whatever they could get their hands on, and write nasty words like “bitch,” “slut,” “whore” and “drunk whore.”

One inmate even tried to put glass in his food, he said.

It was a tough stretch. Yet, he’s quick to point out, it was during this time in the joint that he found what gives him so much peace and joy today.

“I’m in Nassau County jail,” Mr. Lohan recalled. “I’m walking in the dorm—I walked about three miles a day in the dorm, like One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest or something—so I come back to my bunk and there’s a number on my bunk and it says ‘Teen Challenge’ on it. And I look at it and I’m like, ‘What’s this Teen Challenge thing?’ And I called my attorney and I’m told to call the number, and I called the number and found out it was a faith-based rehabilitation program.”

He recalled the day in jail when he was reborn. “I was in the middle of the dorm, and everyone is looking at Michael Lohan, on his knees, crying, and I accepted the Lord. And from that point on, Teen Challenge became the focus of my life.”

Mr. Lohan began corresponding daily with Pastor Jimmy, who installed a special phone in his house for him to call collect on.

“What Mike is experiencing is what we call the transformation,” said the pastor. Before leaving us for the picnic, he cited Romans Chapter 12. “‘Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you might know the perfect and acceptable will of God,’” he said. “And the word transformed in Greek means metamorphosis, and that is what he is experiencing. The metamorphosis, where the caterpillar—who’s very limited—becomes a butterfly. It’s the heart and the nature. And that’s what born again really means: regeneration.” Mr. Lohan said that as a butterfly, he hopes to spread freedom through Christ.