« Freakonomics Radio

34. Things Our Fathers Gave Us

2011-06-08 | 🔗
What did Levitt and Dubner learn as kids from their dads?
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three m dot com, slash covert they it's almost fathers day, if you are totally out of ideas, were to get your dad this year. If you really scrape in the bottom of the barrel, may want to think about sending this podcast today we ve got stories about things. Our fathers gave us one from my free, in a mixed friend and Co. Author, Steve Levitt and one for me and you'll hear one more story about disciplining kids and I make any father proud, happy fathers day, here's Levitt, reading, an essay, that's just been published in the new paperback edition of Super for economics. Growing up. I was the worst kind of Mama's boy. Never has there been a bigger sissy, I would cry if an adult gave me a cross look. I sat on my mom's lap until I weighed nearly as much as she did I'd like to Needlepoint. It drove my father crazy.
Although I am sure he would rather than doing just about anything else, committed his mission to turn me into a man. Its initial attempts were pretty standard. He forced me to play baseball, but mercifully that experiment ended after just a few years. He was disgusted by my lack of baseball instincts and my tendency to sit down were playing shortstop. The final straw came when my team had a stirring come from behind victory to when the city championship all the other kids mob, one another in celebration. I just sat on the bench and watched we did lot efficient together. He was a remarkably good sport when one of my errand CAS resulted in my fish hook.
I've seen his cheek. I suppose he expected me to be equally brave when another, exceptionally poor cast my part left the hook embedded in the back of my own head. I did not take it well, we didn't do much fishing after that. It was only when my father's lessons veered off the beaten path that they really started to take hold. Our common ground turned out to be that we both like to break the rules. So we take me to the hospital where he worked and when no one was looking with sneak into the room with radioactive materials and play games with them at the mall just for fun. We will go up the down escalators one April, when I still a preteen. He introduce me to the idea that there might be a few trips here and there that could be used to lower payments to the IRS, whose only a few years, They began taking me to country roads where he would. Let me try it driving the family car. You didn't drink much alcohol, but whenever he did, he slide the glass. My way where my mom wasn't looking, so I could have a swing. As I look back, I can't think of it.
the more valuable my life than the time my father spent breaking the rules with me. It wasn't just written, principally laws that we violate. He taught me to flout the limit set society imposed. Even though is just a kid I was supposed to yield think like an adult or better for that matter. One of his favorite activity, starting roughly when I was ten years old, was to present scenarios from work he's a doctor involving other doctors making gross misdiagnoses. would tell the stores in such a way that the answer he was looking for was attainable even for a ten year old, and when I gave the entry wanted, he would tell me I was already a better doctrine, the one who had handled the patient. He made me believe that there is nothing I couldn't do, if only I put my mind to it,
not everyone will agree that all the lessons my father taught me were the right ones. For instance, I learn from him the men don't cry ever that lesson. I've tried unlearn as an adult, but without much success. I can say this, however, everything that is interesting about me today. I owed the mischief that my father now engaged in when I was young. Like my father, I have a son and he too is one of the world's biggest sissies. We recently celebrated his eighth birthday. That's the perfect age, star breakin world with his dad and it is really lucky may we can get his grandfather involved as well. Hey, let you call your dad on fathers area Probably it lasted yourself into usually have a reason to talk and would you say that your father's parenting is-
otherwise the ball, in other words, should it should it be replicated should should all of us try to do it? You father, then. I think my father's approached the parenting was a high variance approach in the sense that he put tremendous pressure on the child, and I think I could have veered one way or the other- and I veered in a direction that I think was good, but I could see are breaking the spirit of the child when he panted. So you ve been a father yourself for quite a few years now, what's the best fathers day, her head. Oh guy, you know I don't even pay attention to Thursday family holiday. Is your family pay your weapon? They knew not how I mean they try bad on that day. When I try they try to bring the breakfast in bed, they try to get it the early for now you know what it is dad we here by grant you four hours today to go play golf with. No guilt
it ours, they pick up. What am, I think, I'm coming up what my father taught me, it's not too late to change. Just relax, take it easy sure so much. You have to know finally settled you married. Thanks to Pennsylvania, lottery, scratch ass, pennsylvanians or scratching their way to fine, and we, new games every month, big top rises, and second chance, drawings, excitements, always in order, so try, Pennsylvania, lottery scratch, offer your ticket to fund and get yours today, keep on scratching, must be eighteen or older. Please play responsibly benefits older pennsylvanians every day Economics radio sponsored by total wine in more fling in
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all the ways square can help at square dot. Com flash go, slash, freak, oh nonsense! So I grew up in this fairly strange family. This was an upstate New York and in them boondocks in the back of beyond this little farm outside of Albany, and it was strange in part because my parents were this pair of city people. These Brooklyn born Jews, who eat then before they met each other, had both converted to Roman Catholicism. So that was pretty traumatic, as you can imagine, their families didn't care for that very much and they really cut themselves off from their families and they were cut off from their family, so they migrated upstate, nay, really reinvented themselves. The new life up there and started having kids and kept having kids and you know very Catholic kept,
kids and and one measure of their devotion was that the fact that we had eight children- I was the eighth and last of their kids. Now my dad worked as a newspaper men in Schenectady and uh. You know my mom took care the kids in a million other things. We we grew must have our own food. We ETA the cow and usually some chickens and Pegre go once in awhile and it turns out. We are pretty poor, but when everybody around there was pretty porn being poor, wasn't a problem it. We didn't want for things really we were. We were gonna. We worked hard. We're pretty happy, but there was one so money wasn't really the scarcity that we were concerned with the real scarcity when you grow up in it in a big family is time with apparent like one on one time with apparent was really big deal and for me as the youngest kid, especially with my dad. That was like the treasure to get one eye one time with my dad. That was very, very rare, and it was rare in part because there were a lot of kids,
but also because he worked pretty far away, is pretty long drive to work and and also as health, wasn't good. In fact, my father would die by the time I was ten so a minute with him alone. When I was a kid, I was really pretty precious and I'm on this. One time must be like seventy eight years old, when my dad to be done to give these diner. This is in the little. The closest village called Quaker Street and Quaker Street was just One stop lay a general store in the diner Jimmy's dire and all my older brothers and sisters had at one point worked at giddies, diners, either cooking or as waitress or what not an end for my dad to bring me there alone, the two of us to sit at the counter to this kind of sacred place, is this: is this thrilled to just be there and armor? We sat at the counter, our member, what I got to even armor my dad got a cup of coffee with they I'm half a scoop of vanilla ice cream minute which are looking back arose as moves pretty like it. He could have been a us.
our bucks. Imagine here and I was have whatever I was having and he introduced. Me then, to this game that he called powers of observation and the way powers of observation work was, he would say, are so Stevie. I just want you to look around and really take it in just really look around pay attention see what you're looking at take it in get attuned to listen hard to ok, like I said I was probably seven. Eight years older Sony said, I'm gonna give you five minutes to just take it all in so I sat.
I look around, I take it all in our really know he's going with us and then after a few minutes, he he told me to close my eyes. He said: okay, the waitress, an news Siena. We newer was an said Ann. What colors are apron and I said: wait, it's a you're. Just guessing I'd say wait said: that's right! That's right! Ok, the lady behind us. Would she just order really cheese, nope, chill Ok, how many people have come in since we started playing powers of observation and on it went just like that, and he would grill me on these facts large and small, any kind of sight
smell sound anything like that and the first couple rounds. We did this. I was terrible. I couldn't get anything right at all. I just I just didn't, have any powers of observation and then, as we kept doing it, I got better and after about twenty minutes I felt like I could take these little snapshots with my mind and then repeat what I'd seen my father that one day it giddies Diner in Quaker Street New York. He taught me that memory released observation is a muscle that you can build, and I've been
flexing that muscle every day since then released trying to so we were a family with practically no money and without even really that much time with each parent, but I'll. Never forget that one day that incredibly great thing an incredibly valuable thing that my father Now one thing that I've been observing these past several years is that economists are strange p, now you heard from Levin already I'd like you to hear from one more economists This is an Australian named Joshua Ganz, who wrote a book about being a father called parental comics. So what you're about to here is An upcoming our long for economics, radio programme we ve made called an economists guide to parenting, and here is a story of how Joshua Ganz got one of his kids to behave
so. The story is this: we would go to the pack and our child, who is probably around four. Will invariably not want to leave So we would have this vague, sir, and dance about. You know we have to go now. You can't keep applying, should run off. You know it would be ill, be costly. Let's let me put it and you know one option was we could say you know we went out of the park very often solutions that which is perhaps one of what occurred. But you know we could never pre negotiate this fully roared the pact's yours. She was often on our own what we did one days was sitting and she was doing it again and we said you know we keep threatening the we'll just leave. Why don't we get in the car and just leave and so we set out you come away. Gonna go we're gonna get in the car and drive off and that is actually what we did in front of our full packed full about appearances. Well, we had
screaming child running after us going nuts. But we don't leave me exactly to get that message across now to be sure You know well, that might not be obvious to the other parents standing there, and I tell you it was a tough thing for us to do that. As another family at the pack who was going to at least watch out that she didn't do something silly. As a result of this like run onto a road or something like that, so we went totally crazy, but then again we the drive off leaving Thinking she'd been left bind. So when what happened and what happened the next time that she wanted to stay at the park longer never ever happens again. Never ever had another problem. Perfect Hey sadism works. You got. You know at some top point. You ve gotta, raise the price enough. You gotta be credible. I mean you know, that's the dispassionate economist says you drew out a tax. I guess I become some hard line: whore,
in that regard. You know so occasionally we break from social more eyes, but we only had to do at once. That just warm your heart, there's more from Joshua, Ganz and other economists, in our upcoming parenting special and for economic radio. There's nothing else. On this father. You can be thankful that your father is not an economist if your father is well, then Reaganomics radio is a co production of W and Y see a p m America. public media and debonnair productions subscribe to this package. On Itunes and you'll get the next episode in your sleep, can find more audio at for economics, radio, dot com and as always, if you want to read more about the hidden side of everything, but a free economic stuff
Transcript generated on 2021-03-17.