This is a must read for every dad, or anyone who just plans to become one someday. A fragment from the book of D. Carnegie, which has been reprinted in hundreds of editions. Be a good dad …
Listen son, I say this now while you sleep. Her cheek rests on a small hand, blond curls stuck to her damp forehead. I sneaked into your room. Just a few minutes ago, as I sat with a newspaper in the library, a wave of remorse swept over me. I came to your bedroom with a confession.
I thought that I was too hard on you. I scolded you when you were getting ready to school because you barely touched your face with a towel. I scolded you for not cleaning your shoes, I scolded you when you threw your things on the floor.
At breakfast I also found something to scold you for. You spilled something, swallowed food in large chunks, put your elbows on the table and spread too much butter on your bread. And when I was in a hurry to get on my train, and you, leaving for a walk, turned around, waved your hand at me and shouted: "Goodbye, daddy!"
In the evening the same thing was repeated. Passing by, I saw you, on your knees, playing balls. There are already holes in the stockings. I humiliated you in front of your friends when you wandered ahead of me towards the house. Stockings were expensive, if you paid for them yourself, you would be more accurate.
Listen, son, what your father says to you.
Do you remember how later, when I was reading, sitting in the library, you timidly entered and looked at me with some kind of pain in your eyes. I glanced at you over the top of the newspaper, impatient and displeased that I was being disturbed. You stood hesitantly in the doorway. “What do you want?” I muttered.
You, without saying anything, rushed swiftly to me, wrapped your arms around my neck and kissed me. And your little hands clenched with love, which God kindled in your heart and which even neglect cannot extinguish. And then you left and I heard you walking up the steps.
And at that moment, son, the newspaper fell out of my hands and a terrible, paralyzing fear gripped me. What has habit done to me? The habit of scolding, looking for mistakes, making comments. This is not because I do not love you, but because I expect too much from the child. I measure you by the yardsticks of my years. And in you, in your character there is so much good, wonderful, sincere. Your little heart looks like a huge disk of the sun rising over the wild hills. I saw it in your sudden impulse when you ran up and kissed me before bed. And nothing else matters today, son. I came to your bed in the dark and, ashamed, knelt down.
This is insufficient atonement. I know that you would not understand everything that I am telling you now, in your waking hours. But tomorrow I will be a real father. I will be your bosom friend, I will suffer when you suffer, and laugh when you laugh. I will bite my tongue when impatient words come out of it. And I will repeat like a spell: "It's just a boy, little boy!"
Mom is on a business trip, so what if the socks are different? I'm afraid I pictured you as a grown man. Now, when I look at you, sonny, tiredly curled up in your crib, I see that you are still a child. Just yesterday, your mother carried you in her arms, and your head lay on her shoulder. I asked too much …
Photo: Rob flickr.com/barretthall TMAB2003 flickr.com/tmab2003
Excerpt from the book by D. Carnegie "How to Win Friends and Influence People"