By Richard Derderian
There aren’t many convictions that I hold onto with 100% certainty, but one that I do hold onto is the belief that a caring and supportive family are key to a wholesome life. I have come to believe this notion through my life experiences and have found that it has become reinforced as the years have gone by. Through all of the experiences that have shaped my life, I have found that a supportive family is key to creating the foundation for a wholesome and successful life.
Growing up in Rhode Island, my family molded the way I conducted myself in every day society. That is not to say that I didn’t have other influences that molded me into the man I am today. I had friends growing up that were not the best influence on me. I was the youngest in this little group of assholes and they would manipulate me into doing things that I otherwise would not have. These were the type of kids that lacked any kind of parental supervision: They didn’t have curfews and could pretty much do whatever they want. One day, we were in the woods across from my house and the guys had brought gasoline and other flammable materials with them from their homes (keep in mind, we are ages 7-11). My Mom hadn’t heard from me in a while and made me come home, saying that I had no business hanging out with those boys because their parents do not hold them accountable for anything. Sure enough, a few hours later there was an ambulance and a fire truck across the street from my house. The boys had poured too much gasoline on the fire and it spread and burned one of them pretty severely. I’m still thankful for my mother calling me home. Another thing that has influenced my belief in family is my experiences with other families, both good and bad. I’ve had friends whose parents wouldn’t even give them the time of day, nevermind take them to a ballgame or try to teach them any life lessons. Seeing how some parents treat their children makes me believe in the power of family, but also allows me to see why some people would disagree with me.
From a young age, my mother and father taught me the proper way to behave, and since I lived with them, I encoded their lessons into my long-term memory. The things that my parents taught me have stuck with me and made me into the well-rounded person I am today. From Dad, I learned things like how to change the oil in a car, how to bait a hook, and how to talk to a girl. From Mom, I learned how to make a nice meal for a special lady, to not pick my nose, and to not procrastinate. My parents taught me a lot more than I just mentioned, but these teachings have led me to the belief that family can help you get through anything.
I grew up with parents that were always around and always told me they loved me. When I had my first sleepover when I was young, I learned that not all parents are like my own. My friend Corey had parents that got divorced when he was very young, so I got to see how difficult it could be not to have parents and I surely understand why someone would not hold the same conviction as me regarding family. Corey lived with a mother who left him at home alone during the day, rarely made him or his brother any meals, and didn’t help him with his homework even when he asked for it. I know there are many people whose parents weren’t there for them growing up, who were walked out on by their parents. I know there are kids that grow up with parents that have drug and alcohol problems, people that would rather buy a sack of cocaine than buy their kid books for school. People that grow up without parents and family members that care are more likely to be bitter towards the whole notion of family because they themselves never got to experience being a party of a real family. I consider myself one of the lucky ones. I could not imagine having parents who walked out on me or neglected me, but I am thankful for the ones that I do have because they have helped me get so much further in this life than I ever could have on my own.