By Kendall Donaker
To quote Star Wars, “between darkness and defeat, hope survives.” For those of you who are reading this feeling that hope is lost, hear me when I saw nothing lost can’t be found again. But what do you do when hope isn’t what is lost, but civility is?
I have been many things in my life, but the hardest role I have ever had to take on is being a father. Fatherhood comes with many challenges, not to mention the challenge of parenting from different households. How I parent from my house may be very different from what is taught at the other. Today, I experienced that fact all to well. My parenting style is very relaxed. Whereas I do not spank my daughter, I give her timeouts. Statistically, how many munities your kid is in timeout should reflect the number of how old they are. For example, if my daughter is three years old, she is only in timeout for three minutes. I am not a traditional father. My family is complicated and my parenting style reflects that. When I have custody of my daughter, I make sure she understands why she is in time out and emphasize how much I love and care for her.
However, her mothers parenting style is very different. We doesn’t believe in timeouts and only wants to communicate with her through words only. We agreed on never to use spankings or yelling as a punishment’s, but for the most part, we disagree on almost everything else. Small disagreements yes, but sometimes the smallest thing can have a big impact. Although this is a a specific situation, I know that many parents face similar challenges in their own lives. We are constantly reminded to give our children love and support, but sometimes it seems like we can’t even agree on the best way to do that. It’s important to remember that even though parents may disagree on some parenting styles, they have the same goal in mind: To raise strong, confident and happy kids.
I am writing this article to share with you what happened behind closed doors today. Her and I shared words with each other that are not going to easily be recoverable. I am hurt by this today because her and I lost civility with each other, and I am afraid of the affect it may have down the line. It is unfortunate that two people can be on the same coin but on different sides. Our parenting styles are just so different, and sometimes we forget that we equally parent and not one style is right over the other. We forget that love comes first. Today, I myself forgot that. Therefore when civility is gone, you must remain in control. Not control over your child, but control over yourself. We forget that when it comes to our children, we are both their parents. We often forget that the most important thing is to show them love, no matter how differently you may parent. Today, I have forgotten this. I took my frustration out on her, and I am sorry for doing so.
Being in control of yourself means being in control of your emotions. Sometimes being in control often means deciding some things are out of your control. I am reminded of a bible verse I tattooed on my arm to jog my memory in times like these. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” I want to focus in on that word, wisdom. As I have gotten older, I have become wise to the things that set me forward, and understanding the things that set me back. Which is probably why as I was typing my negative response back to her mother today, I felt my thumbs wanting to stop, almost as if they were in pain. It was as if each letter I was typing out was like pressing on a needle, knowing I had to stop but moving forward anyway. After that I took a moment to pause, I regained control of my emotions, and understood the difficult situation I am in. Our civility may be gone, but I am in control of what I do next. Sometimes it can be hard to be in control of your emotions. During these times, it can help to stop and ask yourself whether you are making choices that will set you forward or back.
Do not let the lack of civility influence the lack of your control. Take control of your life, your emotions, your heart, and let the universe decide what happens next. Today was the first time in three years we have crossed a line with each other, and yet sixteen years still remain. My situation may have gotten harder but as I mentioned, between darkness and defeat, hope survives. Find hope and you will find control. The universe once told me, “I’m going to be your kryptonite. I’m going to push you further than you expect yourself to go and then some. I’m going to make you smile when you want to cry and I’m going to love you harder than anyone has ever loved you before.” Find the power to take control of your life and don’t let your situation get the best of you. With so many challenges we face on a day-to-day basis, it’s easy to have a bad day or feel like giving up. But when you find hope, it has the power to keep you motivated. In fact, it can make you unstoppable. When civility is gone, control must remain. Control—the ability to direct the outcome of events and actions, especially in a particular manner.
My message to her mother is this: We share our daughter but not our anger, we share our love but not our defeats, we may not share civility but we could share control. My nana once told me that the most important thing I could do for my daughter was to keep her fed, clothed and loved. The second was to keep her close. Over the years, other women have echoed this sentiment, with some variation. My greatest victory is being a dad, my greatest role is being a father. My only hope is that if civility cannot come first, then love can. If you’re a dad, then you know that being a parent is the most challenging, but also the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do. It’s also probably one of your biggest sources of pride. The challenge is that parenthood can be a lonely place. It’s hard to find the right support and guidance, especially as you get more experience under your belt. I am happy that I can share my triumphs and failures with you. My hope, is that instead of taking revenge, you take control.