X Interview #1: Andrew Brockelman, Clarksville, TN, Drug Free Dad of 5!!
Andrew and I connected via the Straight Edge Dads group on Facebook. He serves as a staff sergeant in the US Army. His words here, as I’ve let him know, give me goosebumps. I am so happy to present this as the first interview on the Drug Free Dads website. Without further ado…
Name: Andrew A. Brockelman III
Number and ages of children: 5 Children, Aged 21, 15, 12, 3, 3
Location: Clarksville, Tennessee
- What are your personal drug and alcohol-free recreational outlets? Lawn care (i.e. mowing, weeding the flower bed), attending college, watching b horror or classic b/w movies with my wife, watching biographies and drama/action movies, grilling food for my family or for when friends come over, watching sports (mostly football-go Cowboys!), reading zombie or post-apocalyptic novels. What are your favorite things to do with your children? Go to Andrew’s t-ball games, go to MaKaelyn’s tumbling classes, go hiking with Josh or just having man to man conversations about life and what to expect and how to avoid the mistakes I made as a young man, talking about books with Liberty as we’re both avid readers, and talking with Quen when he calls home from being in the Army.
- What pieces of art, music, literature, etc., inspire you at this stage in your life? As far as art is concerned I really am in love with portraits by Akiane. What an obvious gift from God she has to be able to do so much without any formal training and at such a young age. Now, when it comes to literature, I either read biographies because influential people’s lives are extremely interesting to me or I read post-apocalyptic/zombie novels (Rhiannon Frater). The latter isn’t necessarily inspiring as it is a pure relaxing escape from the everyday stresses of life. When it comes to music I like all forms except country and classical. I am still a huge fan of SXE bands even if I don’t like their sound because I have a sense of gratitude for what they do and stand for and like to support them and their message.
- What does being a good father mean to you? Wow,…this is a good one. Being a good Father (I personally capitalize this word when I use it because it is a title that should be held in respect) means knowing the importance of separating being a Father and a Friend to your children, yet being able to be effective at both. Being a good Father means teaching your children self-worth is derived from them simply being themselves and not letting them be defined by the amount of money they make, how they dress, what kind of car they drive, what kind of music they listen to, or what group they belong to. Their thoughts and ideas are what make them an individual and, hence, special. Being a good Father means, celebrating their strengths even when it’s not something you may be able to relate to and nonjudgmentally noting their weaknesses and helping them with ways to overcome such weaknesses (having a weakness doesn’t make one weak, yet having and not overcoming does). Being a good Father means having the ability to talk about things you yourself have done wrong in the past even if they’re embarrassing because you have the keen insight that learning a lesson from your mistake is more important than your outward image or reputation. It means showing them through your actions that you keep the promises you make to others. It means you go to their game, even if it is literally right after work, because you realize it’s more important for your child to know you support them than getting a full eight hours sleep. I guess to sum it all up, your actions speak more than a million words could ever.
- How does your partner feel about your drug-free choices? She fully supports them, even if she doesn’t fully agree.
- Why did you decide to be drug and alcohol-free as a father (or beforehand)? Because I was extremely ashamed that for so many years I had put my self-worth in the hands of others and not in mine. On top of that, I realized I was helping support something that is the cause of thousands of deaths a year, whether it’s through fatal car accidents, abortions, or murders. Alcohol enables people to do things they normally wouldn’t do sober, like child abuse or suicide. I think the use (any use qualifies for abuse) of alcohol and the love of money are the two root causes for 98% of crimes anywhere in the world. Are there other major life choices that complement your decision? I didn’t want to show my kids through my actions that using alcohol to cope with life’s stress was the answer or that drinking to fit in with other Dads was the way to fit in any crowd in life. Friends should meet your standard of being a friend, you shouldn’t have to meet theirs.
- How do your experiences as a son influence your choices as a father when it comes to drugs and alcohol? My Father was an avid non-drinker. He didn’t drink alcohol under any circumstance, whether socially or privately. He helped show that alcohol never lead to good decisions and only helped the destruction of everything it was involved in, i.e. people, relationships, jobs, etc.
- As a son, what is something you would you like your dad (or mom) to know? That despite my failures and embarrassments in early adulthood, I do have my act together now. That I have always only wanted to make them proud.
- How do/will you talk to your children about drugs and alcohol? I’m not one to really have long talks about the dangers and bad decisions drugs (that includes alcohol and cigarettes) can lead to. They are very aware of how I feel about them through my actions. How have/will you address drug and alcohol use among the friends of your children? They are as aware as my children are and how it goes a little further than me just not approving. They know how I despise drug use in any form and how when you’re at my house, it’s my rules. That goes for family and friends.
- How do religion, political ideology, or other philosophies play a part in your choices as a father? I am a Christian and try to reflect that in my actions. I want to support my children in all they do (as long as it’s not immoral) because our days of being with them are numbered. Unfortunately, no one knows just how many days each of us have left, so, it’s wise to make the best of all of them. Also, I really put forth an effort to show each of them how their differences are what make them special. Kids who try to be different usually end up being exactly like the others trying so hard to be different; such is the dichotomy of the adolescence. God gave us all differences and similarities and they should both be celebrated. The differences are what make each of us unique, and similarities are what bring us together and allow for friendships to grow. And, last, but, definitely not least, is teaching my kids to not get wrapped up in the belief that being a Christian does not make them better than others. God doesn’t love those who don’t accept Him less than those who do. The whole basis of my faith is that I’m not perfect and never will be, and neither will my kids, my parents, my wife,…none of them. But, that doesn’t mean we just quit living either, forward progress is an absolute must. When you feel awkward, press forward and it will pass. When you feel defeated and like a failure, keep pressing forward and it will pass. When you are grieving, keep pressing forward for healing will take place over time. And moving forward isn’t just for yourself, it’s for your kids, your spouse, your parents. It exemplifies perseverance through your actions to all around you.
- If you drank/used drugs, how will you address your past with your children? I tell them it simply was because I was an ignorant youth who believed what my surroundings told me-that to be tough included drinking alcohol heavily and smoking/dipping daily were part of the image.
- What pitfalls exist for drug-free fathers? Being judgmental of others and forcing them to build walls of security around them to where your message of clean living will never penetrate. It’s ok to have pride, but, don’t let that same pride get out of hand, as it can easily grow into a love for self…and egomaniacs are the Earth’s scum. How successful have you felt at overcoming them? So far, pretty successful. But, it’s only because of my shortcomings in other areas of my life that remind me that while I have kept my SXE promise to myself, I’m still very imperfect and shouldn’t consider myself without reproach.
- What are your greatest hopes for your children? To grow up and always have a secure and healthy self-image. To understand that if they’re interested in something that isn’t the norm, doesn’t mean they’re weird or should shun that interest. They should revel in the pursuit to be themselves at all times. They should know that no amount of money makes you happy, it’s the people you surround yourself with; people who celebrate who you are individually and who celebrate who they are individually; people who don’t necessarily get anything out of a friendship with you, but, enjoy spending time with you just because.
x xdfdx x