When Louisiana-born, Barry Broussard thought about becoming a truck driver, he talked the decision over with his three kids. Two were nearly grown, to the extent they had graduated from high school, but Sarah, his 14-year-old daughter, was just beginning all the activity and excitement of adolescence.
Although Barry was divorced, he still considered himself to be a very engaged father. His older kids lived with him and he maintained a close relationship with Sarah, who lived with her mother. In fact, Barry describes the whole family as “very close,” including his former wife and her new husband. His decision to be gone from home for weeks at a time was important to all of them.
Before becoming a long-haul trucker, Barry worked in the oil and gas industry in Texas. When that played out, he took a year to consider his options. Eventually, he decided the lure of seeing the “lower 48” had a strong enough hold for him to give over the road trucking a try.
When Josh-the-Dad and I “met up” with Barry for our podcast, he was driving from Des Moines, Iowa to Norfolk, Nebraska to pick up library furniture he planned to deliver somewhere in Kansas. Love for his kids and price in their achievements was clearly evident in his voice as he described each of them. He attributed their strong bonds to a family built on faith, respect, good manners, and the expectation of an “appropriate demeanor.”
He also emphasized the importance of setting a good example. Barry wants his kids to see him modeling good behavior, not just talking about it.
Barry says his children are “very supportive” of his choice to drive for Prime. “Girlie,” the name he calls his middle
child, is in the process of making a quilt for him of all the paces he goes. He encourages their connection by communicating with one or more of them every day and sending photos of the things he sees form the road. He tried to get home at least four days every month, but does work with his dispatcher to be there more often if special events come up.
Perhaps one of the most unique things about Barry is the way he works with his youngest daughter nearly every school day on her math homework. Sarah, now 17, is a good student with aspirations for medical school. Following a typical school day, Sarah calls her dad and the two of them set a time to FaceTime later in the day to review her math assignment. Barry is good at math and enjoys the special bond he and his daughter have as they learn together.
We asked Barry about advice he would give to other truck driving dads and he offered the following words of encouragement:
1) Communicate with your kids every day. Text, talk on the phone, Facetime, Snapchat . . . whatever. Use whatever means you have available to connect with them.
2) Involve yourself in their day-to-day activities when you communicate. Show interest. Listen. Find areas you can share.
3) When you come home, don’t neglect the actually physical time you have with them. You can’t get it back.
4) Set an example for your kids in the way you live.
5) Develop and maintain a good relationship with your dispatcher. Tell him or her about your life, what you need, when and why it’s important for you to go home. Work as a team.
Not every dad can do homework with his child in the evening via Facetime, but we were impressed in Barry’s insistence in trying. It’s not easy to stay connected with your kids when you’re an over-the-road dad, but Barry Broussard shows us it can be done.