Phil Mickelson’s stunning but entirely characteristic revelation that he’ll be skipping next week’s US Open to attend his daughter’s graduation is only the latest testament to the golfer’s dedication to his family. It’s also representative of a culture in which parents feel increasingly obligated to be in attendance at every game, ceremony, and mid-afternoon school party.

Trust me, no one’s guiltier of this than I am. I coach both my boys in multiple sports, and last week I caught an early train home so I could squint to see my son stand in the fifth row of a school chorus concert and sing three vaguely off-key renditions of Broadway show tunes. I compare this to my dad, who I know loves me, but who I’m pretty sure couldn’t tell you where my primary school was located.

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And that leads to the question of whether we’re all going too far. If we can agree a high school graduation is a big deal, particularly when, in Mickelson’s case, his daughter is to be the commencement speaker, we can probably also agree some of our kids’ events are highly skippable. Which ones are those? Here’s a starting point.

  1. Any practice, pre-season practice, or extended calisthenics session.
  2. Plus, you don’t need to be at every game. It’s a problem when you say things like, “That kid always does that,” or, “We’re still not recognising the play,” or worse, “We need this to cover the spread.”
  3. Any performance in which your child’s role is entirely indistinguishable from the 75 other kids on stage.
  4. Any graduation ceremony in which your child will still be reporting to the same physical location the next year. There’s no second grade “graduation”. There’s just a day when the teacher has to stop showing up.
  5. Any school party in which parents are asked to bring treats, and you mistakenly think that means a six-pack of Heineken. (It happened ONE time and I’ve already apologised).
  6. Any school excursion that involves you riding on a school bus with three dozen screaming 9-year-olds (and still does not allow for Heinekens).
  7. Your child’s arraignment. (Unless it’s their first arraignment. Those are always special.)