Jul 142013

“Silently closing her bedroom door/ Leaving a note that she hoped would say more”         – Beatles’ ‘She’s Leaving Home’ (ibid., 2,3,4,5,6,7)

I suppose, in many ways, this is one of those stories that every parent dreads … a child felt unloved.

“Picks up the letter that’s lying there/ Standing alone at the top of the stairs / She breaks down and cries to her husband “Daddy our baby’s gone” .2

And, it can happen to any family – parents, taken off guard by the unexpected actions of their children. The questions are many; the answers are few.

“She (We gave her most of our lives)/ Is leaving (Sacrificed most of our lives)” .3

When it happened to us, we had to ask ourselves … “Ok, we’re not perfect, but could we have done better … and what can we do, now?” A sick feeling wells up in your stomach and your emotions rage from worry to outright betrayal. But, always the question lingers: “Why?”

“Fun (Fun is the one thing that money can’t buy)”.4

My teenage son asked unforgiving of his younger sister, “How come she’s so smart and yet so dumb … why bother helping her?”

“Quietly turning the backdoor key/ Stepping outside she is free” .5

As I tried to explain to him, I wasn’t going to stand by and do nothing and watch her opportunities in life pass her by – all because of poor, two-way communication. Losing a child, in this way, is something only a loving parent truly understands.  

“She’s leaving home after living alone / For so many years” .6

Years later, he didn’t think that he could survive at university, because of a learning disability which negativity affected his grades at secondary school. His mother and I encouraged him to believe that despite this, he could be successful … that one situation wasn’t conditional on the other. It was a hard sell, but in the end, he took a leap of faith and now enjoys a successful career as a teacher – someone who can relate to students. And, as a parent, he now understands.

For years, though, I played a real life game of ‘snakes and ladders’ with his sister: one step forward, two steps back – to show that we really did love her and we cared. But fast forward to today: she’s a successful corporate manager and a proud mom with a wonderful marriage. And, I’ll never forget how she acknowledged her gratefulness during her wedding speech: saying that, without her family, she’d be nowhere.

 “Something inside that was always denied/ For so many years” .7

My son’s youngest sister has seen her share of unpredictable sorrows and, for awhile, needed a safe life harbour that only a loving family can provide. Today, she’s married, with a new home and happier than she’s ever been.


As I see it, ensuring that all our children have a shot at being firmly launched in life, is a parent’s… is society’s main responsibility. As a “family”, we learn together.

Fred Parry

Fred Parry

www.fredparry.ca (July 2013)



Jul 072013


Wikipedia Photo: Lincoln Memorial

I remember hearing a story of how a government decision, to save a few million dollars in employer tax credits, ended up eliminating thousands of low paying jobs. And, what amazed me was not the short-sightedness, but the attitude of contempt and total disrespect for people’s lives it revealed … often duplicated by the worst elements of the corporate world: low paying jobs, equal a low tax base, equal a non-priority and are generally expendable.

Yet, these same citizens pay sales taxes, mortgages and contribute to society. And, because many live in non-metropolitan, affordable areas, they can financially make it work and raise a family. What’s needed is compassionate understanding and the removable of economic stumbling blocks… an equal chance.

For instance, just ask yourself: who do you contact when your computer doesn’t work; when you need a warranty claim processed, tax questions answered, help with your automatic garage door opener, ordering products, etc? Almost every single day, your life comes in touch with a person holding a relatively low paying job. So, why set up a scenario whereby these jobs are inevitably shipped overseas?    

The underlining reason for these types of decisions is an overall disconnection from everyday life and people.  By contrast, what was so endearing about Britain’s WW II Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, was that he could relate to ordinary people.

Where’s that leadership today?

“Listen children all is not lost … And I’ve been waiting such a long time
for today –
Chicago’s ‘Saturday in the Park” (ibid., 2)

 I think it starts with respect.

As a college student, I remember being impressed by the care a school custodian was taking when using a large polishing machine, back and forth, across a section of tile flooring. When I asked him about it, he pointed with pride to a long stretch of gleaming hallway, compared to another section he’d not yet done. It taught me a lot.

“A proud man, still can, tell stories his own way … Will you help him change the world?” .2

According to the Ontario Ministry of Education (MOE) 2007 study, 25% of students fail to graduate from secondary school. Although results are better today, no one should be discouraged, or held back in life, especially when it’s obvious they can achieve more. 

Among the pictures of university/college and secondary graduates in a local paper recently – there was a photo and congratulations to a young student graduating from public school. At first I thought it odd, yet the same MOE study revealed that 75% of grade 9/10 students will not graduate if they failed even one course. So, I think his parents were wise for giving him early public recognition and encouragement to succeed. And, although there’s no guarantee of a better future with education, the statistics show that the opposite is probable without it.

A bumper sticker, summing it in up nicely, read: ‘If you think education is expensive, try ignorance’… apparently, there being no monopoly on that, anywhere.


Fred Parry

Fred Parry

www.fredparry.ca (July 2013)