It Takes Discipline

In the 1960s, the young poet Diane di Prima was at one of those legendary Beat parties that movies are made of. Everyone was there. There were drugs and ideas and romances. Jack Kerouac was there, holding court. And yet, di Prima got up to leave and go home early.

Why? Because her babysitter was expecting her. All the other writers in the room judged her, silently laughed at her, believers in that line we have talked about so much–that the pram in the hall is the enemy of good art. Kerouac was not so silent about his disdain. “Unless you forget about your babysitter,” he said to her in front of everyone, “you’re never going to be a writer.”

Yet di Prima, a good parent, left anyway. As Julie Phillips writes in her fascinating book about creatives and parenting, The Baby on The Fire Escape, “she believed she wouldn’t have been a writer if she’d stayed. To write and come home on time, she argued, required ‘the same discipline throughout,’: a practice of keeping her word.”

So often important and talented people use their work and their talent as an excuse to neglect their obligations as parents. But di Palma was exactly right to see them both as a matter of discipline and commitment. The idea that anything (or anyone) is improved by neglecting one part of their life for another is nonsense. But the opposite is true–by keeping your word to yourself, to your children, you are strengthening an important muscle. By being disciplined and protective of your personal life, you are being protective and dedicated to your professional life.

Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Don’t let anyone judge you for that.

Sign Up to get our FREE email.
One piece of timeless parenting advice, delivered daily.

Sign Up to get our eBook

“20 Things Great Dads Do Everyday”



Recent Posts



We’re going to tackle all the big themes of our time and of all time: Grit. Resilience. Curiosity. Compassion. Character. Unconditional love. Finding purpose. Dealing with stress. Masculinity. Female empowerment. Loss. Stillness. Truthfulness. Initiative. Creativity. Passion. Family. Fun.

Join Daily Dad now and tap into a community of dads all over the world dedicated to becoming the very best dad they can be. you’ll get a daily meditation on the above themes and more.