Ancient Wisdom for Parenting Children – Part 1

Standards for Being a Good Student and Child

(A Guide to a Happy Life)

Chapter 1

Respecting and Loving our Parents at Home”

Introduction

This is the first of seven lectures based on an ancient Chinese book called Di Zi Gui, or in English it translates to “Standards for Being a Good Student and Child.”

To understand Di Zi Gui, we need to travel back in time, several thousand years go.  It contains seven chapters; each chapter talks about specific principles and standards of conduct. It was taught by Chinese wise men a very long time ago.

Why is this book, which was written so long ago, important today? Could it be that something that was written so long ago, in a different time, in a different age, is still important today?

Chinese parents firmly believed that a child should first learn how to act and how to behave before any other subjects were taught. Why?

  • Why is it important for a child to learn how to behave before they learn how to read, write, or even learn arithmetic?
  • Because without these as a foundation, the learning of any other subject would be a waste of time. In other words, if we do not have a strong moral foundation, we will never be able to learn.
  • We want our children to have bright and promising futures and ultimate happiness.
  • So this is “the” guide to a happy life.

This book (Di Zi Gui) was written by a man named Confucius. Who was Confucius?

  • Confucius was a Chinese scholar and is considered to be the greatest and the best teacher.
  • Chinese culture has been greatly influenced by Confucius.
  • His influence is still felt throughout the world even today.
  • He was born in China about 2500 years ago; about the same time that Sakyamuni Buddha was born in India.
  • Confucius and Sakyamuni Buddha shared many of the same teachings.

Confucius wanted children to learn how to be a good person. He wanted them to:

  • Love and respect our parents
  • Be kind to your brothers and sisters
  • Understand how to behave with other people
  • Complete your daily chores/work
  • Become someone whom other people can trust
  • To love everyone
  • Stay close to good and kind people

Before we learn anything else, we must learn and practice all of these guidelines. You must first learn to be a good and kind person who loves everyone and is respectful and compassionate to others.

This is the first chapter and is titled “Respecting and Loving our Parents at Home”. It teaches us the proper conduct on how to talk to and behave in front of parents, and what our correct attitudes and manners should be.

First Standard:

When our parents call us, we should answer them right away. When they tell us to do something, we should do it promptly.

When our parents instruct us, we should listen respectfully. When they scold us, we should sincerely accept what they say.

Our parents sacrificed a lot when we were born. They were no longer able to do the many things they had been doing in the past. They could no longer go to bed or wakeup when they wanted because they needed to take care of us. They spent many sleepless nights attending to our needs.  They were no longer able to take vacations whenever they wanted, no longer able to go to the movies or sporting events on short notice, no longer able to spend time with friends. When we were born, their life changed dramatically.

As we grew older, they continued to attend to our needs. They cared for us when we were sick, provided support when we needed help, and were there when we needed a shoulder to cry on. Our parents always thought of our needs before theirs.

The best way we can repay their love and support is to follow their teachings and always try to make them happy. Whenever they call us, we should answer quickly. They may want to show us pictures of a new baby in the family or to help them wash the dog. It could also be an emergency where they need us to do something very quickly.

When they tell us to do something, we must do it the first time. If Mom tells us to clean our room, we need to do it right away. If Dad tells us to take out the trash, we need to do it quickly as well. We should not argue with them or mumble to ourselves when we are doing them either.

When we do something wrong, our parents will punish us. We should not be angry but try to understand that they are teaching you to be a responsible person. We all learn when we make mistakes; it’s our parent’s responsibility to tell us when we make a mistake and then show us how to correct it. By changing our behavior now, at a young age, we will grow up to have good character and live a happy life.

So try to remember that when our parents punish us, they are doing it to help us. We should listen to them respectfully and take their advice and to not make the same mistake again.

As to why we should always answer our parents quickly, let’s see how Felicia and Hanna learned why it is important in

Second Standard:

We should make sure that our parents are warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

In the morning, we should greet them and show them that we care. At night, we should make sure that they are resting comfortably.

Just as our parents cared for us when we were young, we should also care for them as we grow older. We can do simple things that do not require much effort but truly show our love for them. It’s important that we show our gratitude for the many ways they cared for us.

In the summer, when it’s hot outside, we could bring them something cold to drink or open a window to let in a cooling breeze. In the winter, when it’s cold, we could bring them their slippers to keep their feet warm or offer them a cup of hot tea.

When we see our parents in the morning, we should greet them and ask them how they slept. Before they go to sleep in the evening, we could ask them if there is anything they need.

It’s important that we always show appreciation to our parents for all the many things they have done for us. As they grow older, we should continue to care for them just as they cared for us when we were young.

Third Standard:

Before going out, we should let our parents know. When we return, we should tell them we are back.

We should lead a routine life, and we should not be constantly changing our mind in whatever we do.

Regardless of our age, our parents will worry about us. So whenever we go out, we need to tell them where we are going, who we will be with and when we will be returning. When we return, we need to tell our parents that we are home.

Suppose you have a pet dog. Then one day you are unable to find him; you have looked everywhere. Naturally you will be quite worried since the dog may be lost or even hurt. Our parents worry the same way.

It’s important to develop a daily schedule or routine. You should wake up at the same time, eating breakfast, going to school, having dinner, doing homework, then preparing for sleep. A schedule helps you organize your day so that you do not need to remember what you need to do and when you need to do it.

We can often change our mind when we have good reason. But changing our mind frequently is not a good habit to develop.

Fourth Standard:

Even when a matter is trivial, we should not act without permission or just do as we please. If we do so, then we are no longer a dutiful child.

We should not hide any possession, no matter how small, from our parents. If we do, they will feel hurt.

There may be times when you want to do something but you might think it is too small a matter to ask your parents. Whenever you think this, you should still ask your parents before you do it.

Also, you should never hide something from your parents. If you do, you will feel bad. We should always share whatever we have with our family.

Fifth Standard:

When something pleases our parents and is proper, we should try our best to provide it for them. When something displeases them, we should remove it.

If we injure ourselves, we will make our parents worry. If we do something unvirtuous, they will feel ashamed.

We should always look to our parents to learn how to act and behave. They taught us the difference between right and wrong. But there may be times when what they ask goes against what we have been taught, what we know to be good. When this happens, we need to tell our parents how we feel while remembering to do so respectfully. If we speak to our parents respectfully, we will have a better chance of convincing them to change their behavior. When we talk respectfully and calmly, others will listen to us and consider what we are saying.

Sixth Standard:

When our parents love us, it is easy to be respectful and loving.

When they do not love us, respecting and loving them means we have a noble heart.

When we see that our parents are happy taking care of us, that makes us happy. It also makes it easy to love our parents when they are happy.

But what if our parents are angry because I did something wrong. Perhaps it was because I did not take out the trash or I did not put away my toys once I was finished playing with them. In either case, their anger is only temporary and does not show that they no longer love us. It simply means that they are not happy with our bad behavior.

If we understand why they are angry, then we won’t be upset. But if we do not understand, then we might do something we will regret later.

Seventh Standard:

If our parents do something wrong, we should urge them to change.
Do so with a kind expression and caring voice

Should our parents not accept our advice, try again when they are in a better mood.
If they still do not listen, our sincere tears will show them how deeply we care.

Should they get angry with us, do not hold it against them.

As we grow older, we learn right from wrong by listening and watching our parents. For example, we are taught that lying and stealing are wrong and because our parents showed us by their actions.

But even our parents can make mistakes by doing something wrong. What can we do when this happens? We can respectfully talk to them. By speaking in a calm voice, we will have a good chance to help them.

Eighth Standard:

When our parents are ill, we should make sure  that they take the right medicine. Care for them night and day, and do not leave them alone.

For three years after our parent’s passing, we should remember them in sadness. We should live simply and not adorn our home. Avoid merry-making, meat, and alcohol.
We should arrange our parent’s funeral in a proper manner.
We should always honor them as if they were still alive and, especially on the anniversary of their death, remember them with a sincere heart.

When our parents become ill or are just not feeling well, we can help care for them. We can bring the something to drink or we can make sure their room is not too dark or too bright. We can make sure they have plenty of books beside their bed to read. We can even bring the flowers from the garden to make them smile or even give them a bell to call us when they need something.

We should stay in the house so we are close by to hear them call us. But we should also be quite when were watching TV or playing on the computer so as not to disturb them.

When its time for our parents to take their medicine, we can bring it to them with some water and something to eat. When the medicine is from the doctor, we need to make sure that the medicine container has their name on it. Giving someone the wrong medicine can make them very sick.

Another type of medicine is herbs. Since they need to be brewed in water, it’s very important to make sure the drink is not too hot or too cold.

In other parts of the world, families can be very small with no relatives close by to help when someone become sick. Therefore, children often are put into a position where they are caring for their parents all by themselves. They may also be responsible for caring for younger brothers and sisters. And they might even need to make arrangements for a parent’s funeral.

When our parents pass away and are no longer with us, we should continue to remember them with love and appreciation for all they have done for us.

Something to think about:

Think about the many ways you could look after your mom or dad if they were not feeling well. What would you do? The next time you are not feeling well, watch what they do. By watching how your parents care for you, you will know how to care for them when they are not feeling well.

Conclusion

While these guidelines may sound simple, they are much harder to practice. These guidelines show us how we should act and behave and will help us for the rest of our lives.

We must remember to respect and learn from our parents so that we do not do anything to hurt or embarrass them. Its also important that we follow through on our responsibilities both at home and school. We must develop stable and respectful relationships with others and take care of our possessions.

So if you practice these teachings every day, you will live a very happy life!

Amituofo!

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