Before Duck Dynasty, the Robertson family wasn’t exactly the picture perfect family we are used to seeing on TV. They’ve had their share of struggles, but have always clung to their faith during hard times. Here’s what true fans should know about the Duck Commander gang’s past.
The Robertson Family’s Substance Abuse, and Adultery
Phil Robertson is the patriarch of the Robertson family. He preaches forgiveness and hope to millions of people all around the world. However, he hasn’t always been a shining example of Christian behavior.
In the beginning of Miss Kay and Phil’s marriage, Phil struggled with alcoholism and also committed adultery. Miss Kay recalls, “The drinking got worse. And I knew then but I didn’t want to believe it; [he] was running around on me. And what I would tell my boys all the time is, ‘That’s not your daddy. That’s the devil in your daddy.”
However, Kay believes she was able to pray away the illness. She remembers telling her boys, “Your dad is a good man. He has a good heart but right now the he’s letting the devil control him and that’s who we should hate – the devil and not Phil. We’ll pray and pray that the devil will leave him but he has to make the choice to do that.”
Picking Up The Pieces
At one point during Phil’s alcohol abuse, he got into a bar fight and had to run from the law. The family went through quite a bit of financial trouble. Miss Kay recalls that the family relied on the kindness of others to pick themselves back up. She said, “When Phil first sobered up we had so many things we had to pay for like a new driver’s license. Some sins have more consequence than other sins. We even had leaders from the church writing letters, “This individual is a changed person” for getting jobs. It worked out. We just had to pay the price.”
Si Robertson’s Alcoholism
Phil wasn’t the only Robertson to struggle with alcoholism. Si Robertson revealed in his book that he also struggled with substance abuse, particularly while serving in Vietnam. These days Si is known to carry around a gallon of sweet tea, but back in the 60’s, he was actually carrying around a fifth of liquor. Si said, ““I drank so much beer and whiskey in Vietnam that I decided I would quit drinking alcohol altogether once I returned home,” he writes in his book. “I saw what alcohol was doing to me in Vietnam and realized I needed to stop for good.”
Alan Robertson’s Tumultuous Marriage
Alan Robertson, the eldest of Phil and Kay’s kids, was not immune to the family propensity for substance abuse. We often saw Alan on Duck Dynasty as the black sheep of the Robertson family due to his beardlessness. He was a minister for many years and even married Miss Kay and Phil at their vow renewal on the series. However, before all of that, he struggled with his own demons.
Miss Kay has admitted she feels guilty for the childhood Alan lost while his father dealt with his alcoholism. She wrote, “Yeah that was hard, and I think it broke my heart when Alan did it because Alan was my rock. Had I not had him those first 10 years…He never got to play baseball like the other kids. He was taking care of his brothers and helping me.”
Alan and his wife Lisa have been very open about their own marital problems that seem to mimic those of Kay and Phil. Both Alan and Lisa committed adultery. Lisa has even admitted to having an abortion in the couple’s book, A New Season. She told Us Magazine, “We wanted to write our story, and [my past] has everything to do with our story. We just wanted to put it out there — the good, the bad, the ugly, but also what God has healed us from and brought us through.”
Jep and Jessica Robertson’s Revelations
It wasn’t just the eldest of the Robertson boys who fell into trouble. Jep Robertson also wrote a book with his wife, Jessica, chronicling his own experimentation with drugs and alcohol.
In Jep and Jessica’s book The Good, The Bad, and the Grace of God: What Honesty and Pain Taught Us About Faith, Family, and Forgiveness, Jep admits to trying all sorts of drugs in his teens and early twenties. He remembers trying something called a “wet daddy,” which he says is, “a joint soaked in formaldehyde that had been stolen from a funeral home.”
Jep was also addicted to porn at one point in his marriage. Jessica admitted, “He’d been struggling our whole marriage with an addiction to pornography. I felt completely rejected. I’m not worthy of love, I thought. It was my worst nightmare coming true.” Once again, Jep relied on his faith in God to combat the addiction and was able to break his bad habits.
Jep’s Early Abuse
Perhaps some of Jep’s adolescent rebellion was caused by his early abuse. The Robertson man admitted he is a victim of childhood sexual mistreatment. He wrote in his book that an older girl on his school bus would, “take my hands and push them up under her shirt and tell me I was tickling her. Then she started making me pull down my pants. It was awkward. I didn’t know what was going on, but I knew something wasn’t right… I became more and more confused and scared. I moved to different seats and even tried sitting up by the bus driver, who didn’t seem to have a clue what was going on.”
The Robertson family has certainly been through many ups and downs. Their struggles with alcoholism, addiction, and adultery are compelling, and at times shocking. However, their overlying theme is a dependency on God. They’ve all clung to their faith in times of trouble, and have been completely transparent about their past struggles.
Can you believe all that the Robertson family endured before Duck Dynasty?