David Graham has come to an important realisation about his children, and it’s due, in a roundabout way, to COVID-19.
Graham – or Farmer Dave, as he’s better known – captured Australia’s attention in 2006 when he came out on Big Brother. Since then he’s gone on to build an international reputation as a dog trainer. He was touring the US, doing live gigs, when the pandemic hit.
“They shut down New Orleans the second day I was there,” he told Mamamia in 2020. “The day after that we got on a plane and got the hell home.”
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Back in Australia, Graham decided to devote all his time to RuffTrack, a program for teenagers who don’t fit the school system and are “falling through the cracks”. At the beginning of the program, each teenager is paired up with a young dog, to help them learn responsibility.
“This has really brought home the need for a village to raise kids and it just goes to show how important male role models are to kids,” Graham says. “It gave me a kick up the arse, to be honest, that as a dad you’ve got to be present and you’ve got to listen.”
Graham became a donor dad for the first time six years ago. He now has four donor children. Because of his life of “pretty much living out of a suitcase”, he says he “very rarely” got to see his kids.
“Their mums will bring them to where I’m doing a show and I get to see them during the break,” he explains. “That’s not connecting with your kids and I realise that now. I need to take time out and go and spend weekends and actually hang out with them and just do whatever it is that they want to do.
“They’ve got super-loving families around them and all that sort of stuff, and I’m a donor dad so it’s a little bit different to a full-time role of a father, but a dad’s a dad.”