Fourteen American men test their mental and emotional limits while fighting for survival on NBC’s new adventure reality series The Island, hosted by Bear Grylls.
One of those men is stay-at-home dad, Rob Brothers, who braved the experience of being completely isolated from civilization and his family, for NBC’s The Island. Our Family & Lifestyle Editor had a chance to learn more about his experience and participate in a Q&A for the show.
For Brothers, being away from his family was the hardest thing he had to deal with, even among challenges like being deprived of food and water.
Brothers has a background in IT, but left the business to be able to stay at home with his kids. According to Brothers, his experience as a stay-at-home dad was one of the factors that compelled him to audition for The Island. But he didn’t quite know what he was getting into, believing that because The Island is a television show, it would be challenging but also somehow be cushy and “fake.” Unfortunately for Brothers, he discovered that not to be case, and began missing his family even more.
“…I don’t think I’d been away from my family longer than six hours,” said Brothers. “We really, we’re pretty committed parents, my wife and I, and we enjoy spending time with our kids. So that was the – I didn’t – I knew it was going to be hard, I just didn’t know how hard it was going to be. And I believe with deprivations of food and water, I started to get really raw, really raw and vulnerable emotionally.”
However, Brothers didn’t allow longing for his family to be to his detriment.
“….I remember one moment where I said, ‘A lot of the guys, you know, they weren’t really talking about who they missed because that made them upset.’ I found that talking about my family, talking about missing my wife Julie, missing my kids, it really helped me. So I was sort of like working through that on the island. And that’s kind of how I dealt with it.”
Since Brothers has been back in civilization, he has also been watching the show (albeit reluctantly at first). However, the fun his family had watching him has made him truly enjoy the experience, especially the way the show has made his family view him.
“…. to just look at my daughter’s face – she’s so proud of me,” he said. “And she just watches this and she has this big smile. And you know, I look at her and I get a little emotional. And I just think that’s great. She thinks her daddy’s a hero. It’s really moving and it makes me feel really good.”
Overall, Brothers believes his experience on The Island not only helped him to be a better person, but also to be a better family man.
“….I opened myself to it and I really committed to living this experience as truthful as possible. And you know, I found that – I found some deficiencies in myself,” he said. “I found that I could be a better husband; that I thought I might be shortchanging my wife at home. I felt that I could be a better father to my kids, a little more in the moment with my kids. The technology thing has a pretty hard hold on me, and you know kids are smart. My daughter will tell me, ‘Hey dad, you know, you’re on the phone.’ And that’s a big guilt trip. And I just – so I was starting to unearth these things and deal with them. And I’m thankful for that experience, because I’ve, you know I’ve come home, and it’s one thing to realize these things, it’s another thing to act on these and actually learn from those experiences.”
As rewarding as Brothers’ experience on The Island was, there is one reward which Brothers says is bigger. Being a dad.
“I think that’s my greatest work in life,” Brothers said. “And I’m so grateful to be given this experience.”
To watch the latest episodes, tune in to NBC Mondays at 10/9c.
by Alyssa Bajek and Denise Courter
Denise Courter is the Founder of FiDi Families.com, an online destination for Lower Manhattan families. She is also a Today Parenting Team contributor.