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Parenting25: Interview with Daniel Mackler


Today’s guest, Daniel Mackler, is a trained psychotherapist, a filmmaker and a musician, but the reason he came into my awareness is because he has a website that tells people exactly what he thinks – and I happen to think he’s on to something.

So I posted his essay “Eleven Situations in Which it Is Not Appropriate for You to Have Kids” on facebook and asked him if he would talk with me on my show.  He cheerfully agreed.

Even though we talked for well over an hour, by the end I felt that we’d hardly begun.  If you want to hear more of our conversation than this half-hour episode allows, click here to download the MP3 or listen here

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  to hear a longer version.  But like I said – if you ask me, even an hour is just the tip of the iceberg.

After admitting that I do think that bringing three precious people into this insane world (and to be raised by insane parents) was a kind of criminal act on my part, playing Bar Scott‘s “Confession” seemed an appropriate way to wrap up the show.  And then I lay down on my bed to breathe for a good long time.

Forgive me children, for I knew not what I did… or something like that.

Peace and love,


3 comments to Parenting25: Interview with Daniel Mackler

  • kara tennis

    I listened to the longer version of you and D.M. (as well as the beginning of the regular show version) and found it SO refreshing and heartening. His (and your) rigorous honesty bolsters my own journey toward taking more and more responsibilty for who I am. Just knowing what it’s been like for him to be so courageous over the years inspires me to continue articulating the truth of my experience. It’s not that I agree with everything he says (duh), but you gotta love the openness and the searching light he shines on the state of being human. (Anyway, “agreement” implies having opinions, which to my mind seem overrated). But the strong opinions he airs on this show provide some potent drops of badly-needed antidote for the craziness of this crazy-ass world. (I haven’t looked at his website). It’s also SO moving when you get choked up about the bind that being a loving mom to your awesome kids puts you in.

  • Thor Odhner

    Definitely worth listening to.

    I guess this sort of goes back to the two “true” sides of the Doom & Gloom vs. Fine coin. Does the world feel crazy and scary and traumatic in too many ways to count? Sure!

    BUT, I’m REALLY glad I was born, and REALLY enjoy being alive and have the opportunity to end my life at any time and don’t even seriously consider it. And I bet my kids will say the same. I get this whole “having to exist is hard” concept… but for me it’s more of a general existential disorientation and confusion (“What the hell is going on here?”) than wrongdoings of people and society (“The world is fucked up.”) And at any rate, I love being alive and choose it on an ongoing basis. Pretending otherwise feels a bit like bluffing.

    I’m willing to bet that the majority of the emotional and/or negative reactions to the list are less about the specific contents of the list, and more about the language with which it was presented. There seems to be a lot of dogma here based on subjective ideas. Some questionable “capital letters” if you will. E(e)nlightnemet, S(s)hould, A(a)ppropriate, etc.

    There are pragmatic reasons to use one type of language vs. another… using the language of certainty/facts this way will certainly come across more strongly and dramatically, and maybe shaking people up a bit with these ideas is part of the plan. But you then also have to deal with the other effects of using this kind of language… people don’t like to have unqualified fact statements made about things that just sound like opinions. If this list had been called, “Eleven Conscious Conversations Worth Having If You Plan on Having Kids” it probably wouldn’t have caused as much of a stir, for better or worse.

  • Paul

    I’ve found a lot of help and inspiration in Daniel’s views but there are some things about his way that I don’t like and this might be interesting to explore.

    For example, while it makes sense to me to say that it isn’t appropriate to have kids for x, y and z reasons, people who actually have kids have them for a, b and c reasons. To the people that have [deliberately] had kids there were appropriate reasons which is why they did it.

    From imagining a better world where many more people are doing [Daniel-style] healing more quickly, as Daniel does, does not follow that people should start healing Daniel style. People are where they/we are and as we might defend ourselves from being told by others how we should be, then it perhaps follows that we are not helping others by telling them how they should be.

    Daniel doesn’t seem to know that enlightenment lies at the end of self-therapy but speculates that it does. However, elsewhere I think he portrays this speculation as knowledge. I find such speculation presented as fact to be objectionable.

    Nevertheless, Daniel has some radical and strongly held views and I defend his expression of these in the manner appropriate to him. But that does not mean it will be appropriate to others who are tryng to get over dogmatic and prescriptive approaches to living. But I’m 99.9% really like that he has expressed what he has and the way he has than had ne not expressed at all, so I’m keeping this in that kind of perspective. Thank you Daniel and Amy.