I sometimes look at what is happening in the world and I get pretty depressed. Sometimes I question even the value of our work at Dads4Kids. It seems our world is hell-bent on total annihilation. The attacks on fatherhood and motherhood are growing at an alarming rate and no one blinks an eyelid. Anyone who declares that children need a mother and a father, like me, are obviously hate-mongers and bigots. Anyone that speaks out against our society’s current infatuation with alcohol and drugs is out of touch and not keeping up with the times.
It seems we have a group of very influential media, political and societal thought-leaders, who want to go to hell and are determined that they want to take everyone else with them, including every man, woman, family and child. When you unpack their story they grew up, or are currently growing up, in a broken family and they want to make sure that everyone has exactly the same experience as they had whether they want to or not. It is called in the vernacular, ‘a self fulfilling prophecy’. It takes a lot of courage for anyone in this cohort to break the cycle.
Just when you feel like retreating to your mountain cave, someone sends you an inspirational story about a young father (Thank you Mark) who is prepared to speak up against the destructive societal groupthink. Such a father is David Campbell (son of Jimmy Barnes) who happens to be singer himself and a co-host on the ‘Mornings’ show on Channel Nine. Read the story here or better still check out the video story below.
“My father (musician Jimmy Barnes) has, one could say, a reputation of being the hardest partying rock star Australia has produced. So much so that one of his most iconic images is from his Cold Chisel days, sweaty, microphone in one hand, half-drunk bottle of vodka in the other. As he told me today on the phone “I should have frightened you off booze”.
Except it didn’t. It kind of had the opposite effect.
Due to a number of circumstances, he wasn’t around during my formative years and that image is what I had, as a young boy in my stubby shorts in Adelaide, as what you do. How you behave in the industry. And why wouldn’t you? He is a legend. Everyone loves Jimmy (so they should – he is one of the best men I have ever met). He was my hero. As all fathers should be.. or should try to be.
Now, he’s been very public about his battle with addiction and his subsequent rehabilitation. And as a musician, his story is far from uncommon.
Being in the music industry you are given lots of booze. For free! Now this is fun and exciting. Except when it’s not. Then it’s horrible and you feel like a bit of a jerk. Then you have a drink with friends, laugh about your jerky ways, they take the piss… you grab another drink and it’s all good right?
I definitely went for it. I was a part of our “booze culture”. Was I an alcoholic? No. Did I have the propensity to become one? Yes. Very much so. There is addiction on both sides of my family and I was standing at the doorway of a very dark room.
Then last year, on the day of my holiday with my wife, Lisa, and son, Leo, I had a hangover. A bad one. The day we had to leave, Leo, who was then three and a half years old, turned to Lisa and said “ Daddy isn’t well” and something much worse than my bad hangover happened.
I felt shame. I couldn’t stand by and watch this be normalised with the next generation. I wanted to be a role model for him. I wanted to be the best father I could – I still do. So I quit alcohol and I have never been happier. Now a year on, I have tripled my number of children and my resolve.
Anyway. Back to Monday. I am on the Today show, on the panel known as the Mixed Grill where you have an opinion on what is making news that day. Shane Warne had displayed a controversial line of questioning when interviewing the victorious Aussie cricketers. In Warnie’s typical larrikin style, he asked the team numerous times whether they were “thirsty” – and exactly how thirsty they were.
Karl (‘Today’ host Karl Stefanovic) asked me what I thought of this. And I was honest. I hated it. Not because of Warnie – we expect him to be flippant. He was talking about how long the guys intended to celebrate. Rightfully so, they had earned it.
But the part that I hated was the expectation that we can only celebrate by getting blind drunk in this country. That it’s a display of our manliness or some beer-goggled show of patriotism.
I don’t want my kids to grow up to think drinking is wrong, but I sure as hell don’t want them to grow up thinking that getting drunk is expected of them. I changed my habits so that they have an example of someone who doesn’t drink. In doing so, I hope I’ve stopped the cycle of alcoholism in my family.
I am not judging anyone who drinks. Not in the slightest – but why can’t having a drink be an option, rather than the expectation?
Since Monday, I have had a lot of people contact me. Many have been very positive. But many have called me a wowser. A do-gooder. But I am not doing this for anyone else. I want to do good for my family. I want to do better.”
The response from the people watching was brilliant. These two fathers Damien and Frank summed up the commentators well.
Great to hear your story David. Well written. I myself struggled with alcohol but have stopped getting drunk and hardly drink at all now. I probably should stop altogether. I also stopped drinking to be a role model for my 7 yr old daughter and have never been happier, healthier and wealthier. Its amazing how many things you miss out on when you are getting drunk regularly. I love the phrase that “Alcoholism stops with me” I will do everything in my powers to make that happen – Damien.
Brilliant and good on you David. The job of a parent is not to be taken lightly. I struggle with drinking too much socially from time to time. My son is nine and told me I was on my 3rd beer, in a short time, at a BBQ the other day. He idolises me and watches everything I do. You have inspired me to try a little bit harder. Well done I hope a few more parents follow your lead – Frank
What can Dads4Kids say but, “Bravo David Campbell. Your response gives us all reason to hope for a better future for our children.”
I should have realised that David Campbell was different when he gave such a sympathetic interview with Aaron Dickson, the young father behind the viral Best First Date Youtube that now has over 12 million views and still climbing. Check out this video of David Campbell singing a duet with his father Jimmy Barnes. Such moments, along with David Campbell’s most recent comments, give hope in a seemingly hopeless world.
The good news is we are still in the midst of celebrating the Easter long weekend, one of the most hopeful Holy-Days of the year. Yes, this resurrection Sunday we have reason to celebrate the hope of all hopes and his name is Jesus, a story all our children need to hear.
Happy Hopeful Holidays
The good news is that you can sign up to do the first module of The Marriage Kit for free.
If you want to continue, it will cost $200 but that is far better than (as I have said many times before) spending $50,000 on divorce lawyers. Marriage education is a great investment in more ways than one.