Father Forgets – Lessons from a Classic Story


We should try to understand people instead of condemning them. Each person has a story and they deserve to have it heard. Before criticizing them, take the time and figure out why they do what they do.

This idea is explored in the poem ‘Father Forgets’.  The poem Father Forgets is by W. Livingston Larned, read in the video below.



Why you should never criticize someone

The message is strong. Don’t criticize because, by understanding, you can build a better relationship.  The father in ‘Father Forgets’ experienced this.

The person you criticize has many good characteristics beyond the ones you may have just noticed. Never criticize because it will make you feel terrible. You will be in a bad mood and it will show on your face and by your body language.

And don’t criticize, because it becomes a habit. This is a nasty habit to have. And never criticize, because no one is perfect, nor should we expect that.


Judging leads nowhere

As we go through our days, we may experience people we don’t completely connect with. It is easy to judge people because we hold certain beliefs.

But a judgment normally leads to a disconnect between two people.

When we judge we are saying we are better, and the other person is not worthy. Judging is futile because we’re creating more bad instead of good. It hurts ourselves and it hurts others. It doesn’t create a bond because the person being judged will want to steer clear of you. This is like eating a big ice cream and feeling sick 10 minutes later.

Judging can hurt any relationship and gets people nowhere.

There are many techniques that are available to reframe your perspective and keep away from that harmful way of living. Folding up his paper, the father from ‘Father Forgets’ know his judgment leads to nothing productive.


Criticism motivates certain emotions

Above is a photo we posted on our Twitter page recently and it shows the differences in how successful people and non-successful people carry themselves. They live with different dominant emotions.

Humans are emotional and are prone to their surroundings, especially as we are growing up. If you are immediately condemned and put down, you are not going to want to be open and sharing because of the fear of further rejection. But if you were understood, you would have sincere feelings in your heart to share with others. The difference between putting someone down and picking them up is the emotions the person will feel afterward.

There is no way you can make someone more successful by putting them down. The smart person will use this to their advantage. In ‘Father Forgets’, these are the emotions the father wants his son to feel.


What are your dominant habits?

Repeated actions begin to turn into habits easily. If we focus on doing something and we do it often, it becomes easy.

It can be easy to put someone down. The process can be natural. For others, it can be easy to be understanding and empathetic. These reactions are our choices and our paradigms. It doesn’t matter which of these they are. Now that we know condemning leads to nothing good for either person, it is in our power to change our paradigms.

Change is possible for anyone. Habits are fixable, but require dedication and persistence to change. It is the father’s plan to change his paradigm as he kneels by his son’s bed in ‘Father Forgets’.

I want to put this idea into context with some examples. A few years ago we had Kanye West storm the stage when Taylor Swift won her video award. What was the result: Bad press for Kanye, humiliation for Taylor. I’m not doubting the position of either side, I am only mentioning the results. How about one of the best college coaches of all time: Coach K from Duke. He first joined the program as a nobody. No one wanted to play for his team. But he believed in his players. His most important saying was “I believe in you”. The player’s trusted him and he went on to become the winningest coach in Division 1 college basketball history. It’s a great story.


Father, Don’t Forget

Instead of criticizing, understand the other person. Criticism is a paradigm that leads to defensive emotions and unstable relationships. Instead of criticizing, we need to understand people better. Write down your limiting beliefs about people and you will see the nonsense of it. Remember ‘Father Forgets’ next time you have the urge to criticize someone.



How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie