Father and daughter enjoy breakfast together.


The 100-Day No-Alcohol Challenge: What It Taught Me About Being A Dad

Dec 10, 2018

It is some time before dawn and I am lying in bed, neither awake or asleep, as the memories of last night’s imbibing bubble up. Not enough for a full-blown hangover, but a more than ample amount to quash any inkling of jumping out of bed to seize the day. I can’t help but think I’ve had too many of these mornings over too many years. Sooner or later the bill comes due — a sobering thought if you are a dad to a young daughter.

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"[...] my daughter champions my cause and seems to become more vested in it with each passing day."

I try and lose myself in a podcast, settling on a motivational program and a young man talking about taking up the 100-day no-alcohol challenge. He says it changed his life. He sounds like he means it. Coincidence or universal connectivity? Who knows, but I am suddenly certain of one thing: I’m in! One hundred days of no-alcohol. Not a glass of red. Not a white wine spritzer. Not even a half pint of my favourite craft beer. Nada. I get up and boldly write down “1” on the kitchen chalkboard, a ritual I will repeat for 99 days hereafter.

As the days pass, changes happen. I am sleeping deeply and soundly, more so than I have in years. My moods lose their high highs and low lows. Instead, I feel positive, optimistic and energized. I take up running again, made all the easier and enjoyable as 22 pounds of mostly midriff melts away. After a few months people notice and remark on the difference.

"So much of our culture is centered around alcohol — a fact that really hits home when you stop."

The best benefit, however, comes right out of the blue: From the beginning, my daughter champions my cause and seems to become more vested in it with each passing day. At 11, it may not be a goal she fully understands, but she somehow senses that it isn’t easy and takes a level of discipline I’m not certain I can muster. Suddenly, my 100-day no-alcohol challenge is less about me going the distance and more about showing by example the importance of sticking to our most important commitments — the ones we make to ourselves.

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My daughter says that she has taken the lifetime no-alcohol challenge. She recoils from the smell of wine and beer and insists she will never indulge. Were it only so. So much of our culture is centred around alcohol — a fact that really hits home when you stop. Whatever her decision down the road, I know the example she observes in the home will have significant impact on her future behaviour.

There are many nights when I feel I’m about to crack: house parties, birthdays, the May 24 weekend, or, most difficult of all, the weekend in New York just as I am hitting the home stretch. But why trade so much for so little? I am experiencing these moments unfiltered, recording each important conversation and precious scene knowing that it will all play back with absolute clarity when the moment has long passed.

One hundred days quickly go by and I celebrate having gone the distance with a glass of red. So, what have I learned by stepping back for 100 days? A couple of things: The longer you go without alcohol, the less you miss it. Had a stressful day? Hit the gym or go for run. You’ll feel great and save a few bucks in the bargain.

But the most important lesson by far is setting a positive example for my daughter of the importance of sticking to the commitments we make to ourselves — and to those around us who matter most.

Article Author Craig Stephens
Craig Stephens

Read more from Craig here.

Craig Stephens is an award-winning writer and producer passionate about projects that explore social issues, human potential and innovation. He lives in Toronto with his wife, a writer, theatre producer and podcaster, and their teen daughter — his most challenging and rewarding project to date! You can catch his latest work at mediadiner.com.

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