Louis CK on being a father part 2

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Louis CK did a PSA about being a father, and, specifically, how nothing else is as important as being a parent.

While I agreed, I made the point that Louie is divorced and has only partial custody. This doesn’t diminish him as a father, but I suggested that it might be easier to focus in on being a father when you know there are definite time limits. You know that you have all day tomorrow to yourself, to work, decompress, whatever.

On Opie & Anthony last Friday, Louie spoke about this very subject. They cover lots of topics in the first hour, bullies, meeting other parents in the park, punching other parents, and, of course, being a divorced parent:

(0:30)To me, the best thing in the world you can do is to have kids and then get divorced. Because then you really can do anything you want.

[Because it's the wife that's holding you back.?]

Yes, because with a wife, there’s bargains and compromises you have to make with pretty much every moment of your life… every moment it’s like, ‘Where are you going? Because I want to get out of here, too.’ Well, I’m just going for a walk. ‘No way, that’s not good enough, because I’d like to walk around too, so neither of us are going to get to walk around.’

He then stated how much better a father he was because of the joint custody arrangement. Attentive, focused, “all for the kids.” gets up early to make breakfast for them, and likes doing it.

And the “best” part about his arrangement? “I don’t have to answer to anyone… I don’t have to plan.” He describes how miserable it was to have to check in with his wife about plans, and, worse, how he had to constantly appear to balance the childcare or else there would be overt or subtle criticism, claims of unfairness.

When one of you is awake with the baby… the other one should be sleeping! So that you’re useful the next day! It’s like if you’re driving a car, you turn on the other one in the garage. As if your cars were married to each other.

This isn’t about wives– Louie’s wife would probably say the exact same thing. And I am not advocating divorce, but it seems that one of the biggest problems of modern marriages is the lack of a division of care, the lack of precisely defined roles, and a lack of clearly defined on/off times. And when the responsibilities are vague, you get miserable parents who feel they are losing their sense of self, and, probably worse, overparenting

Related posts:

  1. What happens to kids raised by lesbian parents?
  2. WSJ on Divorce: Emperors new clothes
  3. Does the WSJ want you to have more kids, or not?
  4. When the Golden Mean is just plain mean

17 Responses to Louis CK on being a father part 2

  1. ThomasR says:

    I’m a little disappointed in this article. I realize you like Louis CK, but that shouldn’t stop you from criticizing him. There is a lot more to be said about his opinion of marriage and divorce.

    • TheDevastator says:

      Such as?

      Also, here’s a link to a recording of the show:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQkpeX0cpjY

      • TheDevastator says:

        Okay, Alone already embedded the recording at the top of the page. I’m an idiot.

      • ThomasR says:

        Maybe I’m just expecting too much out of TLP. But I was expecting some discussion about the difference between a part-time dad and a full-time dad, and whether being a perfect part-time dad makes up for only being there part of the time. How the father not being there most of the time puts more pressure on the mother, causing her to be less effective. How even (or especially) a perfect part-time dad could divide the children’s loyalties and affect their development. etc.

        That’s just off the top of my head. I typically expect TLP to have thought it thru, and probably gone on far beyond that to stuff I literally would never have thought of on my own.

        • TheCoconutChef says:

          I don’t see how talking and validating that adverserial frame of mind could be of any use to anyone.

          Not only this, but Alone’s point adresses what you’re talking about in a more productive way.

        • vprime says:

          Much of what CK’s defintion of a “great dad” is revolves around courting the favor of the child. Offloading the stressful/annoying disciplinary actions to the custodial parent frees the part-time dad to be like a wish-granting butler.

  2. qerplonk says:

    The analogy here for society as a whole is property rights. “Good fences make good neighbors.” If you can set up roles and responsibilities, and expectations for what needs to get done, it becomes easier to gauge how you spend your time and improve your life.

    It is exactly when you make ownership over property ambiguous, “common ownership,” no one has responsibility, and things fall apart. If you want to turn out a good kid, own it.

    • CubaLibre says:

      There’s another term for treating people like property.

      • Fifi says:

        No kidding CubaLibre. If you want to turn out a “good” person (or at least one that understands personal responsibility), teach them to be responsible for themselves and how to think critically. Earn your authority and respect as a parent, don’t assume you have property rights and automatically deserve respect and authority.

        “Common ownership” isn’t ambiguous at all, it means that it belongs to everyone and we all have a responsibility. Someone “owning” someone or thing doesn’t automatically mean they’ll treat the person or thing well or with respect (as slavery and the laws that considered women property have shown us).

        • TheDevastator says:

          @ Fifi, CubaLibre,

          That’s not even close to what qerplonk was saying. He (she?) is saying “own it” in reference to the job of raising a kid, not the kid itself. If you’re married, define responsibilities as specifically as possible and, and then “own” (take responsibility for) your part of the job. But yeah, the kid’s not your slave obviously.

          • mwigdahl says:

            Agreed. Define expectations, divide labor appropriately, stick to your agreements. That’s the “ownership” he’s talking about.

        • mwigdahl says:

          We’re probably riding the “property” analogy farther than it really should go, but I think you’re off base here, Fifi.

          Just sticking with property as property — no crypto-slavery issues in the subtext: OK, “common ownership” means that something belongs to everyone and we all have “a responsibility” toward it. Can you explicitly define that responsibility in all cases? Are different people’s responsibilities different based on their age? Gender? Training? Income? Disability? Citizenship status? Political affiliation? Behavior history? Where does your component of that responsibility end and mine begin?

          To me, the complexities involved with that style of property management are far greater and lead to more ambiguity than a straightforward full-ownership scenario. At least with that setup responsibility is total and unequivocal.

          Your approach leads directly to either bloated, inefficient regulatory bodies or to the tragedy of the commons (and before you sniff the blood in the water, yes, I know all about the debates around enclosure vs. governmental management that applied to the first use of the term, but the point is still valid).

          • qerplonk says:

            I was speaking to this quote:

            And I am not advocating divorce, but it seems that one of the biggest problems of modern marriages is the lack of a division of care, the lack of precisely defined roles, and a lack of clearly defined on/off times.

            This is a lack of responsibility on the parents’ end. Who does what, and when? If responsibilities aren’t defined and no one is held accountable, it’s easy to say “someone else will do it,” or “it’s someone else’s fault.” This is what inevitably happens when it’s “everyone’s” responsibility.

            If it’s not owned by someone, no one takes responsibility for it, so it doesn’t get cared for, and it degrades. It’s as true for children as it is for anything else in society.

      • mwigdahl says:

        Gerrymandering?

        • CubaLibre says:

          I am redistricting my kid to get a lock on the vital “go out for ice cream” and “let him watch R movies” sectors.

          • vprime says:

            I love this analogy. I’m also reminded of this exchange from The Simpsons:
            Bart: “Oh quit your complaining, it’s only half the work of a divorced dad.”
            Homer: “But it’s twice the work of a deadbeat dad.”

  3. localhost says:

    one of the biggest problems of modern marriages is the lack of a division of care, the lack of precisely defined roles, and a lack of clearly defined on/off times.

    I feel it’s the opposite. There’s too much scorekeeping of who does what, not too little. If you’re in the mode C.K. describes, things won’t get better by becoming more detailed in assigning responsibilities. Things will get worse. Disputes will become more petty.

    As a married parent, you jump in whenever you see a need, and without keeping track of whether your partner is doing the same. If there’s resentment about going for a walk, odds are deeper issues are at stake than who’s doing what.

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