This I Believe

Ryan - University Park, Pennsylvania
Entered on February 17, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family
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I believe that a person should pursue their own life interests without being influenced by family to do otherwise.

I was around six when my parents divorced. I had seen it coming for weeks, and when the official announcement was made, I do not remember being very upset. Then came the frequent shuffling between households, I would spend one weekend with Mom, the other with Dad. This is how my life was for quite some time.

As a result of these trips, I was exposed to not one, but two completely separate and opposite sets of parental beliefs. On one hand there is my mother, who is very structured and rigid in her demeanor. She promoted learning and exploration as ways for her children to discover their own interests. My father, free spirited yet work obsessed, typically played the “passive-aggressive” role as parent, leaving his children to do their own thing but was swift into action when discipline was needed. As a result, the time spent at my father’s house was spent in front a television or playing with my sister in one of the nearby construction sites. It passed the time, but it wasn’t the book reading or gardening that I had done with my mother.

When I came of age, so to speak, the once passive father became infatuated with knowing where my interests lie. This prodding often resulted in spending extra time with him, sometimes even during the work week when I would join him on the job. He was an employee, just like his brother, for Moraski and Moraski, Inc., his parent’s self-started company which was based out of their basement. During these work trips, I was often offered a summer job assisting him or working back at the office; no pressure mind you. I usually shrugged them off. Later at family events, the efforts made to spark my interest in the family business became even more obvious.

As I entered high school and began excelling academically, my relationship with my father’s family waned. I would lie sometimes, making up academic excuses so I could avoid a weekend trip to my father’s house. Although I was able to pursue my own interests, there were consequences of avoiding my father’s family. The last time I saw my grandfather was four months before he lost his battle with cancer.

When my high school graduation came, my father’s family all were there to watch alongside my mother. When the announcer called my name out first as the Valedictorian, he read what college I would be going to as well as my intended major in food science. I believe it was at this point that my father’s family fully recognized and accepted that the interests I held were very different from their own. Since then, the interfamily relationships on my father’s side have strengthened and he is very adamant about proclaiming his son’s achievements to his friends and coworkers. He could finally be proud and supportive of his eldest son.