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Marc Dion
Marc Dion
8 Feb 2016
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In Praise of Uninvolved Parents


I'd like to thank my parents for staying the hell out of my school.

Not that my parents were uninvolved with my education. My father, a great reader of history, had me pick up "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" in seventh grade.

But the parents weren't much on going to my school — not unless I'd hit another kid.

My father never spent a second of his life coaching "youth sports." My mother used to say of the PTA: "That's for the women who don't have jobs. I work."

My mother never made anything for a bake sale. My parents were not "boosters" or "supporters" of anything. They had jobs. I had school. That was how life worked. Everyone had to do something.

I'm writing this because, every so often, some terrible mess will bubble up because parents object to something going on in the schools. A Christmas tree. The lack of a Christmas tree. The Ten Commandments on a high school auditorium wall. A father-daughter dance cancelled because it makes the fatherless girls sad.

I don't know that either one of my parents ever set foot in my high school auditorium.

Once, in my Midwestern high school, the auditorium was the scene of an assembly during which a professional football player lectured about the intersection of Jesus and the forward pass. I believe the player was some sort of Baptist.

My family was Roman Catholic.

"Just remember that's not our religion," my father said when I told him about the assembly.

No letter to the principal. No picket line. No impassioned appearance before the school board. No lawsuit.

Because it was school, and school was like a job, my father expected me to sit politely through whatever religious gabble was offered during an assembly, just the way he sat through meetings at work. Manners were important.

I was supposed to be able to put up with events and opinions that I didn't like because life requires that of us sometimes. That's what my parents thought.

My mother did not attend my high school graduation because it was held in an un-air-conditioned building in May in the Midwest, and the heat bothers her. My father didn't go because my mother didn't want to go. I didn't go, either. We talked about it for maybe 20 minutes, as I remember.

I went on to earn a bachelor's degree in English literature, then a master's, same subject. I always did well in school. I liked school.

But school was my business

Which was nice. Once I got older and got jobs, everything was my business, and at least I had some experience at handling things by myself.

I've had abusive, unfair bosses. I had abusive, unfair teachers. I set myself and take the punches, sometimes a lot of punches. If I can't hit back, I can at least take a beating without breaking. You have to do that sometimes in life.

Sometimes the best thing you can do for a kid is just leave him alone.

To learn more about Marc Munroe Dion and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit



6 Comments | Post Comment
I ususally ingore this guy because his column makes little sense to me, but the title of this article got me curious. I must say I'm glad I read it. Its the best article I've read from this guy and one of the best I've read on this site. I agree with every word. People need to chill out and back off. Life is not agreeing with everything you hear and there is no sense having a coniption every time someones values don't line up with your own.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Fri Nov 30, 2012 11:34 AM
My parents went to my high school and two university graduations. They showed up for my ball games and concerts when they didn't have to work. They showed an interest in my education and were proud of my accomplishments. I appreciate all they did for me, especially the lessons they taught me by their example.

As a school principal, I have had many parents who came to school demanding some special advantage for their child. Some just came to school and made fools of themselves with displays of anger and ignorance because they felt "picked on" when they were in school and didn't want their child to have to follow rules and obey adults. These people made me appreciate my parents more.

My parents were not perfect, but they raised four children and never had to get any of us out of jail.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Paul M. Petkovsek
Fri Nov 30, 2012 3:52 PM
Sir... What makes us Catholics tell the world??? I spend my time about equally in shame and pride about my church, and I expect so much more from it than I guess it will ever deliver; but in the end I am like Erasamus, and will leave my church when I find a better one... I am like John and the New Jeruselem, saying there was no temple there...If there is no temple there is no door between this and that, God and man, Sunday and every other day... Every day is the struggle, and every day is the triumph, and every day is for God... It is good that he shares what we share with him/her/it/whatever...
Comment: #3
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Sat Dec 1, 2012 6:05 AM
Re: Paul M. Petkovsek;... Too bad for you... You never know what rights are until they are taken... You never know what morality really is until you reject it, put yourself outside of society with the act, and then have to find your way back in consciously to the extent you can embrace the community morality...Cool if you are unconsciously moral; and cool if you would never leave the womb of your community...To stand alone as an outlaw, and outcast, ostracised is a great lesson for those capable of learning... For most, individualism is just a word... They never get the meaning of it, and do as others do, buy off the rack, and choose as they are given a choice...The idea that a step outside of the law might begin a life long examination of all human behavior and motivation never occurs to them... They blunder out, they blunder in, or out of natural moral feeling never blunder anywhere....People are law, but ultimately, law is based upon morality that is based upon nature... But; Culturally, some people are so biased for the law that they cannot even consider a question of the morality behind it... My German Grandmother would say the Law, the Law, the Law; or the Government the Goverment... That was her argument, which was to say, not objective in the least... What the law was, what the government said was law and there was no questioning of it... Hitler having a whole nation of such people was in his glory... Resistence was impossible...Conscious morality was impossible...
Consider sir, that parents defending children even when they are in the wrong is the last vestige of community morality we can see today, because the idea of the individual has led to the wide spread destruction of communities and community power... People once got their rights from their community, and now we think we get them from God or that they are allowed by the government... An individual standing alone is a petty sort of defense of individual rights...Those parents, even if ignorant were teaching a moral lesson to their children that is worth everything...
Comment: #4
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Sat Dec 1, 2012 6:23 AM
Oh man Paul, I bet you can tell us all kinds of horror stories about entitled parents and their kids. The more and more I hear about schools today, the more frightened I am to send my kids through school.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Sat Dec 1, 2012 11:53 AM
Re: Chris McCoy Some horror stories, but many more funny stories.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Paul M. Petkovsek
Sun Dec 2, 2012 12:59 AM
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