I have to admit, I was not expecting Clarksville, Tennessee to be such a hotbed of straight edge US Army dad-itude. But, it was the source of our very first interview. And now, Mark Alan Bradley of Clarksville stands out as the first reader of the blog to reach out and offer to do an interview. I’m excited about his eagerness to share, and I hope this is a trend that continues. I often get choked up reading these answers, and Mark’s interview definitely hit some soft spots for me.Name: Mark Alan Bradley
Number and ages of children: 2 9 and 4
Location: Clarksville, TN
Profession: US ARMY
- What are your personal drug and alcohol-free recreational outlets? What are your favorite things to do with your children?
For me as a member of the straight edge community I enjoy going to car meets with my friends in the area, Skateboarding is a huge outlet to me. It saddens me kids bring drugs to skate parks or seek them out there. Art is also another big thing I turn to, be it doing my own artwork, writing music or going to shows.
I enjoy taking my daughter to play laser tag or go shopping. I like to play catch with my little boy when I get the chance. You never realize, just how powerful of a gesture something as simple as tossing a ball, can be to a kid.
- What pieces of art, music, literature, etc., inspire you at this stage in your life?
Well, I grew up in the late 80’s early 90’s when skateboarding seemed magical. I was always inspired by the Powell Peralta team as well as Santa Cruz. I knew as a young boy I wanted some sort of a career in skateboarding. As an adult, I have found what I believe my calling in that realm would be, I want to own my own shop, press and do graphics for my own boards. In addition I want to have a tattoo studio. I believe society is finally realizing tattoos as an art form.
As for music I grew up on bands like Rush, Metallica, AC/DC to name a few ,but as a teen I discovered Punk and Hardcore, as a youth I got my first taste of the Straight Edge movement. I listen to a lot of different bands but as of right now I’m inspired by bands like H20, Comeback Kid, Minor Threat, Bane just to name a few.
- What does being a good father mean to you?
Setting a good example for my kids, showing them what right looks like. I want my daughter to know how a man is supposed to treat her and I want my son to know how to treat a woman. As parents we often make mistakes, I’d be lying if I said I haven’t made my share, but we do what we feel is right for our children and that’s what matters most.
- How do your closest friends and family members feel about your drug-free choices?
Well my parents have been super supportive. My friends seem to respect my choices but I don’t think they fully grasp the reasons why.
- Why did you decide to be drug and alcohol-free as a father (or beforehand)? Are there other major life choices that complement your decision?
Well the choice was a simple one for me. I was previously married … I myself drank heavily, but thanks to a deployment and some very traumatic life changing events I decided I needed a change. I always knew the lifestyle I led was something I needed to break away from, and I did. I am in a much better place as a person now.
- How do your experiences as a son influence your choices as a father when it comes to drugs and alcohol?
I’m not sure. As a teen I got mixed up with the wrong people and that carried over into my adult life, but I’ve cut out a lot of bad apples that I realized weren’t true friends. As for drugs my dad has been a big influence on me, he never has tried any drugs in his life or smoked.
- As a son, what is something you would you like your dad (or mom) to know?
Dad I’m glad you’ve been there to show me the right path in life, I wish I had found it sooner. Mom you’ve always been there for me when I’ve needed you most. There are times I wish you both would’ve let me stand on my own more as a man. I don’t fault either of you, you’ve both shaped and molded me into the man I’ve become. I only hope to be half the man you are dad. I love you both so much.
- How do/will you talk to your children about drugs and alcohol? How have/will you address drug and alcohol use among the friends of your children?
My son isn’t quite old enough, but I talk to my daughter about these things as often as possible. I want her to understand how both have had negative impact on our family throughout the years. I want both of them to feel comfortable about telling me if they are approached by someone to try either of those things.
- How do religion, political ideology, or other philosophies play a part in your choices as a father?
I’m not very religious, but my daughter is baptized Catholic and holds fast to her beliefs. I try not to get wrapped up in politics too much either so I can’t speak on that from a father’s point of view. I will say, however that I am against abortion and I know the democratic party seems to favor free choice.
10. If you drank/used drugs, how will you address your past with your children?
When the time is right I will sit my children down and explain to them my past and hopefully they’ll understand why I choose to be drug and alcohol-free.
11. What pitfalls exist for drug-free fathers? How successful have you felt at overcoming them?
It’s hard to say really, I guess to some fathers they might view social drinking as acceptable practice around kids so not having friends that are sober or straight edge can be a challenge I suppose.
12. What are your greatest hopes for your children?
I just want my children to be happy, cherish each other, their families and enjoy living life. I’d like to see them both attend college but that’s up to them. I will encourage them both every step of the way, but I will not force my hopes and dreams on them.
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