Boo hoo, PragerU

Dennis Prager is unhappy that some of his fans don’t get to see their grown children on Christmas. Tragic.

There are probably hundreds of thousands of men and women who, because of political differences, maintain minimal or no contact with their parents and, even more cruelly, do not allow their parents to have any contact with their children—their parents’ grandchildren.

I know of this firsthand. Parent after parent calls my radio show, often close to tears, sometimes actually sobbing, pouring their heart out to me about being alone on holidays despite having children and grandchildren.

In virtually every case, the parent is conservative, and the child is on the Left. I assume there are cases of grown conservative children who won’t allow a liberal/Left parent to see his or her grandchildren—but I have never heard of a single such case. It is almost impossible to imagine a conservative adult depriving his or her parents of access to their grandchildren because the parent(s) voted for Joe Biden. Moreover, if there were such a person, every conservative I know would vociferously condemn this individual.

Awww. Don’t you realize that it is a religious imperative — it’s right there in the Ten Commandments — that you are required to honor your parents, without regard for whether they honor you or not? It’s an absolute rule. Your parents can be hateful bigots, they can have neglected or abused you, they can be preaching prejudiced ideas that do great harm to others, but you must place your children in their claws for Christmas. You have no choice in the matter, nor do your kids, because choice and consent are dirty words to the Pragers of the world. Shall we consider that maybe those sobbing grandparents are deprived of contact with their grandchildren because they are poisonous vipers who want to indoctrinate the kiddies with evil ideas? No, we shall not. The problem lies entirely with those damned liberal parents.

Prager gives three reasons why evil leftists are entirely at fault for making their parents cry.

Reason #1 is basically authoritarian absolutism. Thou shalt not question the orders of the preacher Lord!

The further left you go, the less likely you are to believe that you are accountable to an absolute moral code, let alone to a Giver of an absolute moral code. On the other hand, conservatives, certainly religious conservatives—people who believe in a God-given Ten Commandments—believe that they are obligated to honor their parents regardless of their political differences.

No, we Leftists do have moral values — we just don’t accept the unquestioned authority of a holy book, especially not when it’s a self-serving commandment that panders to the authority of old people, and especially not old people who have made questionable moral decisions. Shouldn’t a universal moral code be one that even people who do not follow a narrow religious sect can accept? “Honor your parents” doesn’t work as a blind precept, because some parents don’t deserve honor.

A parent who endorses the politics of hatred, as Republicans do, should legitimately be disowned. You want to say that gays should be killed, brown people deported, atheists (and anyone who follows a different sect than yours) is evil? Then no, you don’t get to play with my kids. Perfectly fair.

Reason #2 is a strange one, and a good reason to avoid people like Prager: it’s because atheists do not have a conscience and are evil, and that’s why they make Grandma cry.

The Left proves the utter inadequacy of the conscience. To cite the present example, the adult children who deprive their conservative parents of contact with the parents’ grandchildren have a perfectly clear conscience. All those secular people—including secular conservatives—who argue that God is unnecessary because it is enough for people to answer to their conscience are spectacularly naïve. The consciences of most people who do evil are blissfully untroubled.

They don’t even care that they are making their parents unhappy! To the contrary, if I’d had to cut off my parents’ access to my kids, I’d have felt terrible about it, and would have suffered pangs of guilt (fortunately, that was never a problem in my family, and I wish my kids could have spent more time with their grandparents). The reason someone may sever communication with a parent is precisely because they have a conscience and a set of moral values that find the ideas of an older generation repugnant.

Reason #3 is even stranger and more absurd. It’s college. Conservatives really have a hate-on for education.

You almost have to be a college graduate to shun your parents and deprive them of their grandchildren because of political differences. If you had asked most of these college graduates before they enrolled in college who, because of political differences, won’t see their parents for Christmas if they could imagine never talking to their parents because of political differences, most of them would probably have deemed the question absurd. After four years of college indoctrination—essentially consisting of hatred of nonleftists—the question is no longer absurd.

No, what happens is that kids escape their parents’ control, and learn that Mommy & Daddy’s moral and religious code isn’t the only one out there — they learn to think for themselves and discover that there is a world of ideas that aren’t as blinkered and narrow and oppressive. They might just wake up to the fact that the gay-bashing and transphobia and racism and greed they were brought up with are bad ideas. They may even still love their parents, but just regret how they treat others, and not want their own children to have that kind of bias instilled in them.

It’s not that the more liberal offspring are the problem. It’s the nasty opinionated hidebound kinds of people who would call in to cry on the shoulders of a conservative wretch like Dennis Prager who are terrible role models for anyone’s kids.


  1. StevoR says

  2. Dr. Pablito says

    You’d think that Prager, as someone who supposedly reveres The Western Canon, would realize that the phenomenon of children and parents shunning one another for reasons high and low, tragic and righteous, is as old as literature itself and not some newfangled Liberal Woke Plot. It’s the stuff you read about in them fancy college classes. That guy is just such a boob.

  3. Larry says

    Not to worry. Once TFG is reappointed to his rightful position as President of the entire Galaxy and Beyond, he’ll issue the Forced Parental Repatriation Presidential Brief that will mandate grown children be forced to allow their parents access to their own children so as to allow that passage of hatred and right wing jesus down to the next generation, preparing them for their lives as republicans.

  4. heffe7 says

    Strange how it’s always the conservative/religious parents that are being shunned by their children, and then don’t get to see there grand-kids.
    You never hear any stories about liberal parents being shunned by their kids. Why is that? It’s almost as if the liberal parents are more accepting, and open-minded of the differences in people?
    Huh, who would’ve thunk?

  5. cartomancer says

    My parents are significantly to my right in political terms (i.e. they vacillate between centre-right and centre-left). Mind you, from where I stand it’s hard not to be. There are few who might be considered further left.

    It annoys me sometimes that they fail to see the harm that a capitalist economic system, entrenched establishment and centuries of class exploitation have wrought. But that’s tolerable, really. They’re generally nice people, and I love them deeply, and on issues where it counts, such as tolerance of others, respect for differences and a desire to help the needy, they’re on the right page.

    Indeed, it strikes me that almost nobody would feel the need to cut off contact with family members for their views on economics and politics as it is traditionally delineated. It’s when it comes to outright bigotry and hatred that people find themselves having to do that. Belief in the power of free-market economics to solve all our problems is quaint, stupid and wrong, but it’s not the sort of thing that would make anyone reject you out of hand. Transphobia, racism and support for fascist coups on the other hand…

  6. billseymour says

    I’m the old fart who doesn’t interact with the rest of the extended family.

    In my case, when my mother and one of my cousins died, I didn’t really have any connection to my younger cousins, and so I became the crazy relative who shows up when there’s food.  That strikes me as a perfectly good reason for not getting invitations to family get-togethers.  Also, the liberal-conservative bit is reversed in my case:  my extended family, at least those who still live in the St. Louis area, are mostly Trumpistas.

    I’ll probably read a good book on Christmas day.  I’m not a particularly sociable person at the best of times, so I’m OK with that.

  7. Tethys says

    So, does the author have children who despise him, and refuse to come see him for Xmas?
    I can see why they might prefer spending their holidays far away from such a dishonest hateful person, since holidays are supposed to be for rest and enjoyment.

    There is nothing enjoyable about traveling to someone’s house for a party, and then being subject to abuse because your parents are maladjusted narcissists.

    Home alone with a book is highly preferred to being treated like dirt by your loving Xtian family.

  8. raven says

    Prager gives three reasons why evil leftists are entirely at fault for making their parents cry.

    You are assuming that Prager is telling the truth here.
    How likely is that? It is very low. He makes everything up as he goes along.

    In Realityland, children estranged from their parents probably dates back to the Paleolithic.

    When I was in college, a whole lot of kids were estranged from their conservative parents due to the Vietnam War, the hippies, New Agers, Civil Rights movements, etc..
    One of my friends at school had her military father try to strangle her and nearly succeeded. Her mother pulled him off of her.
    Her crime was being a lesbian.
    Except she wasn’t even close. She didn’t much like gay women and said so occasionally.
    That was the end of her relationship with her parents. She never went back.

  9. raven says

    Why do children estrange themselves from parents?

    The causes of estrangement can include abuse, neglect, betrayal, bullying, unaddressed mental illness, not being supportive, destructive behavior, substance abuse. Oftentimes, parents do not square with a child’s sexual orientation, choice of spouse, gender identity, religion, and or political views.

    Family Estrangement | Psychology Today › family-dynamics › f…

    I put a few terms into Google and didn’t get much.
    A few right wingnut sites complaining that their kids don’t like them.
    Without mentioning that they hate their kids for being gay or liberals or whatever so why should they?

    A lot of kids are estranged from their parents.
    And for good reasons that don’t have anything to do with their parents politics.
    We all know who these are, some of them personally, or they are family members, or they are…us.

    One guy hasn’t had much to do with his mother for decades. She is abusive and this is a core personality trait. She is incapable of not being abusive to family members and is now very old and very isolated.

    Another guy also hasn’t had much contact with his mother.
    She is also abusive and is seriously crazy. Nothing has changed in 50 years except she finally died of old age and no one much cared.

    There are a lot of kids on the streets these days. They aren’t runaways. No one is looking for them or after them.
    They are pushouts. Many, although not all are gay or Trans. Some of them committed the crime of existing when one divorced parent got reconnected and the new spouse didn’t want them around.

    Etc. Your horror story here.

  10. Deep Myth says

    I remember hearing some horror story about how a manipulative daughter wouldn’t let grandma visit the little ones. Grandma was kind of a friend, so I felt bad for her. It was really mind-blowing since Grandma used to be the free daycare service, and now daughter was struggling to find some kind of daycare.

    But then I heard the other side of the story from another one of her family members. Grandma wouldn’t get vaccinated against Covid or wear a mask. It wasn’t politics, daughter was just trying to protect her babies from Covid. In hindsight, I should have put two and two together.

  11. robro says

    Prager spews, “I assume there are cases of grown conservative children who won’t allow a liberal/Left parent to see his or her grandchildren—but I have never heard of a single such case.” I suspect a sampling bias. Perhaps he has never heard of a single case because a “liberal/Left” parent…whatever that is…wouldn’t bother calling this twerp.

  12. says

    I know of this firsthand. Parent after parent calls my radio show, often close to tears, sometimes actually sobbing, pouring their heart out to me about being alone on holidays despite having children and grandchildren.

    No doubt this includes many big, strong men in hardhats, never cried in their lives…
    Oh, and this:

    Luke 14:26 English Standard Version 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”

  13. Knabb says

    What I want to know, regarding point 3, is how in the fuck he thinks his audience is going to swallow the idea that it’s ludicrous that someone who hasn’t gone to college would consider disowning their parents. The man is on youtube, a significant portion of his audience is young enough to remember highschool, and fucking anyone who went there knew at least one person with the stance that the moment they turned 18 they were done with their parents forever. Granted, political differences are usually not the only cause there, but the political difference of parents being bigoted assholes towards a group their child is in and has to pretend not to be in? That’s not new. We’ve all met those people.

    Most of us also don’t operate in circles where literally everyone is a college graduate (though I will grant that US neighborhood structuring and atomization does a great job keeping interaction between different social classes a lot lower than most places), which means that we’re basically guaranteed to know at least one person who either didn’t attend or dropped out of college and cut off their parents. Even Prager’s audience should be able to shoot this one down from personal experience alone, even if the overwhelming majority won’t hold it against Prager in terms of being a trusted source in the future.

  14. Reginald Selkirk says

    Moreover, if there were such a person, every conservative I know would vociferously condemn this individual.

    Conservatives condemning another conservative? I’ll believe it when I see it. Doesn’t that violate the commandment of the great saint Ronald Reagan?

  15. kukulkan says

    I was watching a YouTube video on quantum physics. One of the ads was for PragerU! I decided to report the ad. It gave a checklist of what was wrong with the ad. I checked “other”. Then I was able to actually give a detailed explanation as to my objections. I reported it as a bunch of lies and reich wing propaganda. I finished my comments with:“Dennis Prager can go F**K himself!”
    I hope that does the trick and I never see another ad for that lying SOB.

  16. Akira MacKenzie says

    …it’s because atheists do not have a conscience and are evil, and that’s why they make Grandma cry.

    Just last week, apropos of nothing, my right-wing Catholic father complained that I don’t believe in anything merely because I’m an atheist. No Dad, I believe in a great many things, just not your imaginary space tyrant, his zombie carpenter son/avatar, your list of stupid and sexually repressive rules, or all the other supernatural magical-thinking the elderly pedophiles in Rome claim is real.

  17. Chakat Firepaw says

    Something tells me that a good chunk of the grandparents contacting him about how their “mean left-wing children aren’t letting them see their grandbabies!” are also the kind who are the subject of stories on r/entitledparents. You know, the ones about how the instant grandma was left alone with her grandson, she snuck him off to a church to have rites performed on him.

  18. chris says

    We stopped taking the kids to visit Arizona because my dad ignored them because he was always watching Fox News. I chose to just write him letters, mostly because he was losing his hearing and when he called I could not get word in edgewise. Apparently he enjoyed getting actual hand written letters from me (he never did figure out the internet).

  19. Allison says

    You know, the ones about how the instant grandma was left alone with her grandson, she snuck him off to a church to have rites performed on him

    That’s fairly mild.

    Just the other day, I was reading a “Carolyn Hax” column where a grandmother was complaining that she wasn’t allowed to babysit her grandchildren any more, after making a “minor mistake” — giving a snack which contained nuts to a grandchild with a severe nut allergy.

    It seems to be the rule that parents whose children are estranged will insist that they did nothing wrong (or at least nothing that — in their view — would justify being cut out of their child’s life), while at the same time mentioning things they have done that would make most reasonable people want to have nothing to do with them. Cf. posts on about online groups for estranged parents.

  20. drew says

    Out of all of that nonsense (and meta-nonsense), my only take-away is that too many lonely assholes listen to Prager.

    If we all prominently wear masks maybe they’ll keep their distance from us.

  21. Jazzlet says

    All of the people I know who are estranged from their parents suffered abuse from those parents or colllusion in abuse, most of them are women and the abuse was sexual. Seems a damn good reason to never look back once you’ve got out to me.

  22. gijoel says

    It is almost impossible to imagine a conservative adult depriving his or her parents of access to their grandchildren because the parent(s) voted for Joe Biden.

    I suspect there’s some selection bias going on here.

    I saw a video from an American woman living in Australia, and she was talking about things she liked about Australia. One of those things was not arguing about politics at family get together. I suspect that a lot of these whinging Boomers never hesitate to bring up a political topic they know their kids don’t like.

  23. Matt G says

    As many youngish people have said: mom and dad, what happened to those values you raised me to have? The ones you threw away when you join that cult?

  24. Akira MacKenzie says

    Sonderkommando Prager should feel fortunate. Not wanting to be around my fascist parents is the least I want to see happen to them by and the rest of the fucking boomers that killed our civilization and planet.

  25. StevoR says

    @20. Raging Bee : “Fuck your feelings” Trump supporter said what?

    The typical XNist reichwing hypocrisy here is that its clearly always “Fuck your feelings” whilst elevating MY feelings to
    sacred cow must always be respected and never even slightly questioned status.

    IOW Don’t do unto others as I want to be able to do. I get to have my feelings and rights protected whilst taking your rights away and either ignoring or mocking and “owning” your views. promoting “woke” left wing views is religious persecution but ramming Christianity and their own versions of it and dominisinism etc .. is perfectly fine and freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeedumb!!!1ty!

    Oh and this time of year especially, All Holidays don’t matter and its “Merry Christmas” as an angry bitter war-cry against happy holidays and Peace and goodwill to all (MEN!! It traditionally says MEN not “all” Heresy!) but “All Lives” do rhetorically speaking as a bludgeon to reinforce that Black lives actually don’t so much and, woe betide anyone trying to change that by saying Black Lives Matter. (Too.)

    In essence, if we do it its ok, if anyone esle does its teh ebul! We get to say & determine and no one else and yeah.. IOKIYAR & they are gawds, gawds I tellz ya who must be obeyed unquestioningly and damn everyone else and never dare point out how that “priviliges” them becoz they are poor, honest salt o’th’Earth persecuted victim hEroic, Trump Cultists..

    Partisan tribalist authoritarianism at its “finest.”

  26. says

    There are probably hundreds of thousands of men and women who, because of political differences, maintain minimal or no contact with their parents and, even more cruelly

    OK I know you guys have heard this story before but my mother was DISOWNED by her parents when she left the faith. That faith was Jehovah’s Witness. My brother and I grew up not knowing we had half our family until they realized there were two little boys who hadn’t heard the “good news”. So bang, back they came. I spent a summer living with them when I was 12. Kingdom halls are freaking creepy. Haven’t heard from them in well over a decade.

    On the other side my Grandfather and his wife basically brainwashed themselves with Fox News. He went full MAGA and my dad wasn’t having it. He passed in 2019 and things were not well between them. Damn shame. I’m glad my little core of my extended family is still sane though.

    So yeah there’s a reason there are “hundreds of thousands who don’t maintain contact”. How do you tell your father or your mother that they are full of shit?

  27. lochaber says

    One of those people who never got along with their family, and my main regret is not cutting off ties sooner.

    That said, I have a vague memory of some random argument with my parents, where they claimed it was unnatural for a child to not like/love their parents, and, in retrospect, I wish I had the wit and confidence to respond with something along the lines of “and that’s how badly YOU fucked up”

    I feel like this is maybe another generational divide, in that it’s more acceptable amongst zoomers and millenials to cut off toxic genetic family relations, in favor of healthier family relations of any sort. I’ve gotten a lot of crap from boomers, and even fellow gen-x-er’s, about my decision to cut my parents out of life, but relatively little criticism from millenials and zoomers. Might be selection bias and all that, since most millenials and zoomers I associate with tend to be pretty progressive and anti-establishment. Then again, they often either have (enviously) generally healthy relationships with their family, or have laid down some strong boundaries.

  28. John Morales says

    On the one hand, filial considerations; on the other, adult-to-adult relationships.

    Both matter.

    Not mutually-exclusive.

  29. tacitus says

    A bunch of my liberal friends have conservative parents, including one whose once abusive mother died recently. None of them particularly likes their parents, but they never disowned them and the one who just lost her mother still traveled to be with her in her final days.

    Pager is talking bullshit as always.

  30. lanir says

    Another authoritarian bigot with odious views thinks pushing odious views on family members is both fair game and should have zero consequences? Who would have thought that the kind of person who thinks other people ought to worship personal responsibility wouldn’t want to have any of their own?

    I dealt with people treating me like the black sheep of my family for decades. Several years back one parent died suddenly and the other got cancer this year and died a few months ago. The second one had months to think things over and they were finally able to admit they were the source of our problems. Before then they’d told others in the family that I was just keeping them out of my life like the whole thing inexplicably started with that instead of that being a reaction to decades of abusive BS.

    And just a dose of reality here… I can understand how step-parents and parents who adopt partially grown children might have challenges in forming a family with the child they’ve adopted. But if you’ve known your kid since before they could talk, if you’ve changed their diapers, then who do you think had control of the relationship you formed with them? Sure, other factors can influence it but the core of that relationship is you. If you don’t like how it turned out, who do you think is to blame?

  31. dangerousbeans says

    I’ve met some people who’s conservative kids stopped talking to them. Of course the older people had come out as trans and had all their dickhead kids bail, so still part of the trend here

  32. Doc Bill says

    Of course, Prager is lying about the whole thing. It’s a “man I know” story. “A man I know had a duck that could talk. True, but only in Spanish.” That sort of thing. Prager is a miserable, twisted old grinch and that’s the end of it.

  33. flange says

    “…Because of political differences…” covers a boatload of misrepresentation, bigotry, and lies.

  34. says

    If you consider it thoughtfully, broadly, most of the bigoted xtian terrorist bs Prager spews can be answered/refuted/overridden by the concept we posit that, “respect is earned” Of course, that implies use of an honest, caring assessment in determining whether to respect the person or not. Not, some superstitious, petty mindset.

  35. pick says

    This is common with the RW talkshow hosts. They project a straw-demon and then exaggerate and attack it with righteous-religious fury. Typically the projection is one they themselves are guilty of. And so they rattle on…..

  36. StevoR says

    For the record , I had a marvellous Christmas lunch with my atheist, supportive, wonderful family notably including the best MUm & Dad in our Cosmos today.* I am so lucky and to those who are not so lucky .. my repsect and love and, if you want them (((Hugs)))

    No words. Can barely to bagin to imgaine. Just that.

    .* Yeh subjective but ,. yeah and thankyou.

  37. magistramarla says

    In our case, it is the right-wing youngest daughter who has estranged herself from her liberal parents and siblings.
    She married a good-old-boy Texan, and the two of them went down the rabbit-hole together.
    They are ardent trump supporters, ammo-sexuals and anti-vaxxers.
    She doesn’t want us to be near her 12 year-old son because we are fully vaccinated and boosted, so we might “shed” the virus onto him.
    The only correspondence she sends us is a series of links to questionable sources attempting to “prove” to us that we are wrong about nearly everything. Her father holds several science degrees, as does her oldest sister, who works for the FDA.
    All we can do is tell her that we will continue to trust the science.
    One of her sisters just celebrated a joyful wedding, and missed having her little sister there. However, the entire family felt that it was better to not invite her, since she and her husband are not vaxxed, refuse to wear masks, and would definitely show up with guns, concealed or otherwise, at a wedding. We were safer without them.
    I do miss my baby girl, and it hurts to listen to her right-wing ranting, so I’m better off not attempting to talk to her.

  38. jo1storm says

    @42 anat

    Sonderkomando just means “special unit” in German. So the sonderkomando is just a special unit attached to the main fighting force, like small detachment of engineers or deminers or explosive experts or some such. In short, a group of guys who are normally not the part of the division/unit, there to help with the objectives and to be switched in and out as needed (specialist used for “fetch and carry”). Nazis loved their euphemistic language, the cruel, snarky and sarcastically ironic bastards that they are. So of course they put their military language to ironic use in the concentration camps. The fact that it is sarcastic version that overwhelmed and beaten the main use of the term speaks of the true horrors of the Holocaust.

    This is like if somebody ironically called the people digging graves and preparing bodies for a funeral a bomb squad so much that it took over the meaning of real bomb squad. Just massively over the top and petty (almost cartoonishly so) evil.

  39. brightmoon says

    I stopped talking to my late father after he decided that my oldest needed a beating for something he didn’t do . My equally as toxic mother told him about the incident probably insinuating that he’d done what he was accused of. So dad traveled on the subway for 3 hours just to give my oldest a beating . My son was 12 and my father hadn’t seen or talked to him him since he was a baby. I used to get those dad’s-home-so we-need-a-beating punishments, so my father wasn’t going to touch my son ! Hell would freeze first !!!

  40. brightmoon says

    Mom was equally as toxic so I’d only deal with her at family gatherings. I’d make sure to stay in a room she was not in because she’d try to turn others into flying monkeys. But of course I was “the problem”.

  41. says

    My father cut me off when I came out as trans.

    He said I was just doing it temporarily to hurt him, not because I was legit trans.

    But here’s the thing: if that’s why he cut me off, then wouldn’t 28 years of changing ID, writing articles & books, public speaking, anti-violence organizing, legal lobbying, etc. as a trans woman be evidence that I was not temporarily faking being trans just to hurt him?

    The evidence is there dad. You could just admit you were wrong and give me a call.

    But nope.