Read more about Parenting Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers
If you’ve read “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie, then you may have seen this editorial by W. Livingston Larned titled “Father Forgets” in Chapter One. “Often parents are tempted to criticize their children,” Mr. Carnegie writes, towards the end of a chapter highlighting the importance of not criticizing others. I found it to be such a profound moment for this dad and hope you’ll agree.
by W. Livingston Larned
Listen, son: I am saying this as you lie asleep, one little paw crumpled under your cheek and the blond curls stickily wet on your damp forehead. I have stolen into your room alone. Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the library, a stifling wave of remorse swept over me. Guiltily I came to your bedside.
There are the things I was thinking, son: I had been cross to you. I scolded you as you were dressing for school because you gave your face merely a dab with a towel. I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes. I called out angrily when you threw some of your things on the floor.
At breakfast I found fault, too. You spilled things. You gulped down your food. You put your elbows on the table. You spread butter too thick on your bread. And as you started off to play and I made for my train, you turned and waved a hand and called, “Goodbye, Daddy!” and I frowned, and said in reply, “Hold your shoulders back!”
Then it began all over again in the late afternoon. As I came up the road I spied you, down on your knees, playing marbles. There were holes in your stockings. I humiliated you before your boyfriends by marching you ahead of me to the house. Stockings were expensive–and if you had to buy them you would be more careful! Imagine that, son, from a father!
Do you remember, later, when I was reading in the library, how you came in timidly, with a sort of hurt look in your eyes? When I glanced up over my paper, impatient at the interruption, you hesitated at the door. “What is it you want?” I snapped.
You said nothing, but ran across in one tempestuous plunge, and threw your arms around my neck and kissed me, and your small arms tightened with an affection that God had set blooming in your heart and which even neglect could not wither. And then you were gone, pattering up the stairs.
Well, son, it was shortly afterwards that my paper slipped from my hands and a terrible sickening fear came over me. What has habit been doing to me? The habit of finding fault, of reprimanding–this was my reward to you for being a boy. It was not that I did not love you; it was that I expected too much of youth. I was measuring you by the yardstick of my own years.
And there was so much that was good and fine and true in your character. The little heart of you that was as big as the dawn itself over the wide hills. This was shown by your spontaneous impulse to rush in and kiss me good night. Nothing else matters tonight, son. I have come to your bedside in the darkness, and I have knelt there, ashamed!
It is a feeble atonement; I know you would not understand these things if I told them to you during your waking hours. But tomorrow I will be a real daddy! I will chum with you, and suffer when you suffer, and laugh when you laugh. I will bite my tongue when impatient words come. I will keep saying as if it were a ritual: “He is nothing but a boy–a little boy!”
I am afraid I have visualized you as a man. Yet as I see you now, son, crumpled and weary in your cot, I see that you are still a baby. Yesterday you were in your mother’s arms, your head on her shoulder. I have asked too much, too much.
“Instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand them. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do. That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism; and it breeds sympathy, tolerance, and kindness.” – Dale Carnegie
Visit your child development guide at Parenting Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers to learn more about your little boy or girl.
I help wise entrepreneurs & parents optimize their life or business so they can inspire & connect with others from a place of confidence.
I help people parent the way they feel called to, not what they were shown or are told to do, but what they know deep down is their truth.
I help people build businesses aligned to who they are and what they’re here to offer, not what they’re told they should be or what they think people want, but creating value from what they naturally, and passionately, have to offer that creates real transformation.
I help inspirational entrepreneurs find brand clarity before building beautiful websites & digital marketing for them that clearly express their own brand of awesome, so they can thrive by focusing their time on delighting the people they’re here to guide.
Until I found Conscious Parenting, I’d completely lost sight of ME. I had no idea what I wanted or needed. I used my marriage, which was on the brink of divorce, to uncage the real me and now we’re happier than ever. My growth inspired his, fortunately for our children.
I’m a Jai Parenting Institute Certified Parenting Coach, trained with Dr. Shefali Tsabary (author of The Conscious Parent) for over two years, and have multiple marketing & business certifications. Prior to this work, I was an RF Engineer for 14 years. I have two young children and live in Northeast Ohio with my husband and our boxer rescues.
Please visit my website, bethrowles.com to learn more about my services and pricing.