This paper analyses key findings from narrative interviews with 16 (ex) offender fathers. All fathers interviewed served custodial sentences, ranging from 6 months to 14 years, and were on licence at the time of interview. This research focuses on the ways in which this group of marginal men reflect on their perceptions, practices and aspirations as fathers. It seeks to understand how they make sense of fathering in the context of criminality. The research shows that the social, cultural and economic context in which many of these men are parenting is very complex and demanding. It points to the impact of prison on their relationships with their children and partners and highlights the role of their families in supporting their parenting/fathering. In this paper I argue firstly, that the 'costs of crime/imprisonment' for many of these men is very high and secondly, that fathering can be productive, resourceful and generative in the 'context of offending', where the deficit model of fathering is the norm.