The Parent Trap

Later that afternoon, seated at one of the picnic tables, he spoke of another caterpillar that was poised to become an even bigger, more splendid butterfly—his daughter.

“Can you imagine—Pastor Jimmy keeps telling me this—‘Mike, can you imagine if Lindsay or Paris Hilton or Nicole Richie, or all of them, or one of them—especially Lindsay—turned it all around?’ Lindsay’s example could be the greatest sermon to millions of people across the world. A story of redemption, a real Cinderella story.”

Does he think she’ll come through her current troubles?

“Absolutely,” he said. “And how many lives would she affect? And what does it say about just one lost sheep coming to the Lord?” he asked of Pastor Jimmy, who was sitting nearby. “How many angels rejoice in heaven?”

“A host, it says,” said the pastor.

Mr. Lohan declined to comment on what, if any, communication he has had with Lindsay since she entered rehab. The two have been estranged for some time, but Mr. Lohan did say there’s been progress in recent days.

“If I did tell you, it would ruin any future contact with my daughter,” he said. “My contact and communication with Lindsay, I don’t find it necessary to make public.”

He said that it has been particularly hard to watch from afar as his daughter battled demons he knows so well.

“All these people who don’t know what she’s going through are trying to help her,” he said. “It’s hard to help someone get through something, unless you been through it yourself. These young kids from Promises, which is a fine program, but I don’t think they know what she’s going through. I’ve been there.

“You know what hurt the most?” he added. “I wanted to be there for her, and everyone who caused the division in our family kept me away; they were afraid that, because I’ve come back to be the person the Lord wants me to be and that everyone loves, that if I become a part of Lindsay’s life and it turns around, everbody is going to say, ‘She just she needed a father all along.’”

Mr. Lohan and his estranged wife, Dina, are reportedly near a divorce settlement, which has been delayed in part by Mr. Lohan’s being in jail. As the two exited the Mineola courthouse on Friday, Aug. 10, lawyers told reporters that it was a matter of “minor points.”

Mr. Lohan said he had only one sticking point. In the closed-door meeting that Friday, he said, he put it to Dina this way:

“I said, ‘Look in my eyes and tell me what you want.’ And she told me what she wanted. And I said, ‘Fine. Whatever you want.’ All I asked was to see the kids once a week, with Dina’s brother, Chris, or Pastor Jimmy, or both, and to have access to all my kid’s sports—to watch them. And I asked for one thing: To keep Jim McMillan out of my kids’ lives. But that’s the turning point. If you can’t agree to that, it’s dead.”

Mr. Lohan does not like his soon-to-be ex-wife’s new boyfriend, Mr. McMillan.

He has also dropped his request to have Dina drug-tested, he said, for the sake of his children. He says he’s interested in forgiveness and taking responsibility for his mistakes.

That said, Mr. Lohan does not accept blame for certain things.

Does he feel responsible for forcing his famous daughter into the limelight at a young age (she began doing commercial work at three)?

“Lindsay was never put into anything, Lindsay wanted to do it.”

In fact, he said, he’s had the solution all along.

“At the beginning of the things, I suggested a reality show called Living With the Lohans: Over or Starting Over?” he said. “When Dina served me the divorce papers, I said instead of going trial, why don’t we work this out in an amicable way—just show everyone we could end it the right way, and/or start over the right way. There would have been cameras on us the whole time. It would have guided us in the right way.”

Mr. Lohan thinks such a show would not only be a smash hit—now more than ever—he thinks it might be the only way to restore what once was.

“When we were a family, no matter what we were up against we stuck by each other and we overcame,” he said. “But then people came between us and everything has fallen apart. Right now, I look at things and I pray.”

“It’s a daily thing,” he’d said earlier, of the negative news reports that have haunted him and his family for the past several months. He produced a recent issue of InTouch magazine that included claims by a former bodyguard that Lindsay had been drunk at her 16th birthday party. Mr. Lohan vigorously refuted the accusation.

“It’s a horrible thing that people would live off people’s misery,” he said. “Wouldn’t the world be a different place if people wrote about all the good things people do?”