In Praise of Uninvolved Parents

By Marc Dion

December 3, 2012 4 min read

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

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