I love meeting other straight edge dads who have gone into education. Some day, I’ll try to run the numbers and see if we are drawn to that profession in ridiculously high numbers. I was stoked to learn about Rafael, who, like myself has lived in Hawaii (though I was just a short-stay Haole), loves martial arts, graphic novels, and is unafraid to espouse socialist political leanings. As teachers, we have both encountered children who were exposed to drugs and alcohol in the womb, and we have both reflected on our own family histories to inform our fatherhood choices. I was happy to learn more about Rafael. Enjoy his thoughts. They are short and straight to the point.
Name: Rafael Aquino Dongon
Age: 41 Number and ages of children: 2 kiddos: (14) Tahra, (8) Odinn
Location: Beaverton, Oregon
Profession: Special Education Teacher
1. What are your personal drug and alcohol-free recreational outlets? Coaching wrestling at work, coaching my own kids tennis and karate, watching zombie, martial arts, and scary movies with my kids, hiking with the family, weight lifting, playing in Unrestrained (a mostly over 30 mostly straight edge hardcore band).
What are your favorite things to do with your child(ren)?
Having to just be in their presence, playing games together, and learning from them.
2. What pieces of art, music, literature, etc., inspire you at this stage in your life?
As far as music: Hardcore, punk, metal. I listen to mostly late 80’s and mid-90’s hardcore. I love mostly everything from that era–emo, Krishna, mosh core, apocalyptic hardcore (from 108 to Yaphet Kotto to Integrity to Greyhouse) As far as literature: adult comics (The Walking Dead, Fables, American Vampire, Planet of the Apes, Conan, etc.), a lot of liberal political, scientific, religious, and atheist/agnostic readings. I also love books on hardcore, punk, and metal. I’ll be starting on No Slamdancing, No Stage Dives, No Spikes on the plane to Hawaii.
3. What does being a good father mean to you?
Being able to grow and guide young ones to appreciate life. When I say guide, I mean to reason with them their actions whether right or wrong. It is also necessary to give them praise on their correct actions and yet be stern in their wrongdoings.
4. How does your partner feel about your drug-free choices?
I’m lucky. Ha. I married the only other sxe girl in the island, Oahu, where we grew up. She totally understands and is committed to the lifestyle.
5. Why did you decide to be drug and alcohol-free as a father (or beforehand)?
I had a friend, Josh (who passed away) that was straight edge who introduced me to the lifestyle. I tried smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol prior to that. The last time I drank was wine coolers at a 10th grade banquet. And we got caught and kicked out of the event. We ended up going to a hardcore show after that.
Are there other major life choices that complement your decision?
I know my dad has passed on an addictive gene, so I’m focusing that bit into record collecting, weight lifting, and comic collecting. As a father and a teacher, I have to be a role model my children and my students. For me, that means to be aware and in control of yourself.
6. How do your experiences as a son influence your choices as a father when it comes to drugs and alcohol?
My dad was a womanizer, a gambler, and all out party animal. I’m the total opposite. Being a participant in their livelihood, being more compassionate than my father. Also, being straight edge and committed to my family. My hope is to be better than my parents.
7. As a son, what is something you would you like your dad (or mom) to know?
I’m learning from your life lessons and I hope my kids learn from mine.
8. How do/will you talk to your child(ren) about drugs and alcohol? How have/will you address drug and alcohol use among the friends of your child(ren)?
I tell them you know all the facts about drugs and alcohol. Not that the people are bad. Their habits are.
9. How do religion, political ideology, or other philosophies play a part in your choices as a father?
I’m a socialist and an agnostic. I believe in reason and science. Since working for the public, I believe that the purpose of govt is to help and protect it’s people from any form of exploitation from small time crooks to big businesses.
10. If you drank/used drugs, how will you address your past with your child(ren)?
My daughter is pretty hard line about smokers and drug users. Tahra reacted disgustingly with an “Eeeew”, when I mentioned to her that I tried smoking and drinking when I was a pre-teen. Secondly, I address it when they learn something new in their health classes. Finally, the best way to teach kids is through stories. I tell stories about my older brother when he was a drug dealer and the drugged out people I was introduced to. Or the shady areas I have played shows in. I talk about friends who were using substances and have passed. I also talk about fetal alcohol kids or drugged out parents when I meet them.
11. What pitfalls exist for drug-free fathers? How successful have you felt at overcoming them?
I guess socially. Here in the land of microbreweries, DIY beer and wine tasting, it is socially unacceptable to be sxe where there are weekly meet ups for after hour drinking. I’d rather spend that time coaching wrestling, then taking my own kids to their martial arts practice, tennis, or swimming.
12. What are your greatest hopes for your child(ren)?
To take care of the earth, to take care of themselves, and to help others.
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