parents are tempted to criticize their children. You would
expect me to say "don't." But I will not.
I am merely going to say, "Before you criticize
them, read one of the classics of American journalism, 'Father
Forgets.'" It originally appeared as an editorial in
the People's Home Journal. . . .
"Father Forgets" s one of those little pieces
which--dashed off in a moment of sincere feeling--strikes an
echoing chord in so many readers as to become a perennial
reprint favorite. Since its first appearance, "Father
Forgets" has been reproduced, writes the author, W.
Livingston Larned, "in hundreds of magazines and house
organs, and in newspapers the country over. It has been
reprinted almost as extensively in many foreign languages.
I have given personal permission to thousands who wished to read
it from school, church, and lecture platforms. It has been
'on the air' on countless occasions and programs. Oddly
enough, college periodicals have used it, and high-school
magazines. Sometimes a little piece seems mysteriously to
'click.' This one certainly did.
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.
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
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 in front of your friends 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 slid 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
And there was so much that was good and fine and true in your
character. The little heart of you was as big as the dawn
itself over the wide hills. This was shown by your
spontaneous impulse to rush in and kiss my 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
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. "To know all is to
As Dr. Johnson said: "God himself, sir, does not
propose to judge man until the end of his days."
Why should you and I?
grandfather of all people-skills books was first published
in 1937. It was an overnight hit, eventually selling 15
million copies. How to Win Friends and Influence People
is just as useful today as it was when it was first
published, because Dale Carnegie had an understanding of
human nature that will never be outdated. Financial
success, Carnegie believed, is due 15 percent to
professional knowledge and 85 percent to "the ability
to express ideas, to assume leadership, and to arouse
enthusiasm among people." He teaches these skills
through underlying principles of dealing with people so
that they feel important and appreciated.