Ancient Wisdom for Parenting Children – Part 2

Standards for Being a Good Student and Child

(A Guide to a Happy Life)

Chapter 2

Interacting with Others Away From Home”

We began this lecture series with the first chapter titled “Respecting and Loving our Parents at Home.” This chapter 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.

This is the second chapter from Di Zi Gui and is titled “Interacting with Others Away From Home”. It teaches us the principle and standard of conduct for younger children towards older adults.

It also teaches us how to show respect to the elders and what our correct attitudes and manners should be.

First Standard

Older siblings should love and care for the younger ones; younger siblings should love and respect the older ones.
Getting along well with one’s siblings is a sign of respecting one’s parents and caring that they are happy.

Children show their love for their parents by being loyal to one another and by getting along with each other. By helping and caring for one another, children can relieve their parent’s concerns and therefore make them happy.

One of the many things in life that make parents happy is the sound of brothers and sisters laughing and playing together. Parents know that while friends come and go, brothers and sisters are for life.

Second Standard

When siblings value family ties more than possessions resentment will not arise.

When siblings are careful with their words feelings of anger naturally dissolve.

We need to always be careful to not say hurtful things to our brothers or sisters. When we do, if could cause us to fight even more and then not speak to one another because we’re arguing over family possessions.

Third Standard

When drinking, eating, walking, or sitting,let elders do so first; younger ones follow.
When an elder is asking for someone, find that person right away.

If we cannot find that person, we should immediate report back and ask if we can help instead.

We should treat all people, especially our elders, with respect and kindness. Why? When we respect others, they are happy. And we are happy too.

When we let our elders go first, we are learning how to be less selfish and more humble as well as more considerate of others.

What are some of the ways that we can let our elders go first?

  • At mealtime, instead of taking our food right away, we should ask them to help themselves first. Instead of taking the best seat for ourselves, we can let them chose where they want to sit.
  • If we’re getting into an elevator, we should first let the riders exit, and then allow our elders to enter before us.
  • If we are out with someone who is older, instead of running ahead, we can walk with her.
  • When going through a doorway, we can hold the door open so elders can pass through before us.

Also, if an elder, such as our teacher, asks us to find someone and we cannot, we should go back and let the person know. Then we can ask if there is anything else we can do for the person.

Fourth Standard

When addressing elders, do not call them by their first name.
When in the presence of elders, do not show off.
When meeting elders whom we know, greet them promptly and respectfully. If they do not greet us in return, respectfully stand aside.

When we greet an elder, or someone much older than us, it’s much more polite to address them by Mr. or Mrs. and their last name. If they are good friends with our parents, we can call them Aunt or Uncle followed by their first name. This way we treat them with respectfully.

If we greet someone by saying hello and they do not respond, do not get upset. Perhaps their minds were elsewhere thinking about something. What’s important is that we were polite and showed them respect by greeting them.

Fifth Standard

If we are in a vehicle and see an elder  whom we know passing by, we should get out and greet the person [if the situation safely allows].
We continue on our way only after the elder has left us.

In the ancient past, people traveled on horseback or rode in carts and wagons. If you passed an elder walking while you were riding, you were expected to stop, step to the ground and greet them.

The same behavior can be used today. If you are riding your bike and see you grandparents or aunt and uncle, you stop and get off, if it’s safe to do so. This way you can say hello courteously to the other person instead of rushing by with a quick wave.

Another practice from the ancient past was that when an elder was leaving, all those that were younger would wait until the elder had gone some distance before leaving. Why? If those younger were to leave first, it would say the younger person was more important than the elder person. Also, if the wagon were to go through a puddle, it could splash mud on the elder. So it was polite to wait until the elder had gone a good distance before leaving.

Even today, we should wait until the older person walks off first before we turn and walk away. Why? How would you feel if you turned to wave goodbye to someone and they were already quickly walking away? Now think about how you would feel if they were still standing there smiling and waving to you. I think you would feel good because they were still thinking of you, and not themselves.

Sixth Standard

When an elder is standing, do not sit.
After an elder sits down, sit only when invited to do so.
Before an elder, speak softly.
But if our voice is too low and hard to hear, we are being improper.

One way to show respect to an elder is to remain standing as long as the elder is standing. Only after the elder sits down and invites others to sit should we sit.

Another way to show respect is not to speak so softly that others cannot hear you. Talking too loudly is also not good. Why?

Seventh Standard

When meeting elders, walk briskly towards them; when leaving, do not do so in haste.
When answering a question, look attentively at the person.

We should regard our aunts and uncles  as if they were our parents, and our cousins as if they were our siblings.

When walking towards an older person, walk briskly and with a smile. When it is time to leave, walk away at a slower pace. If we do the opposite, the person may think we did not want to see them. How would you feel if someone walked up to you reluctantly and then quickly walked away? You probably would not feel very happy.

So to avoid making others feel bad, approach them a little more quickly and leave a little more slowly.

When we greet a person, we should always shake their hand and make eye contact. If we look around when someone is speaking to us and avoid eye contact, what will they think? They will think we are not interested in what they’re saying. Eye contact shows we are interested in what they are saying and that we are paying attention.

When we are given the opportunity to speak, the person will be more likely to pay attention to what we say. If during the conversation, another person joins in and begins to speak, look at the person too. By listening politely and attentively, others will respond in the same way to us.

When others are speaking, it is polite to not interrupt. We should patiently wait until it is our turn to speak. This is even more important when the person talking is older than us. When we interrupt those who are speaking, we might miss something important; others could too. If we are rude and don’t listen politely to others, others won’t listen to us.

When we are with our Aunts and Uncles, we should behave as if we are with our parents. We should respectfully listen to what they have to say and follow what they say when they ask us to do something. When we are with our cousins, we should behave as if we are with our siblings.

Something to think about:

The next time an adult is speaking to you, look them in the eyes and pay attention to what they are saying. When it’s time to respond, do so politely. The person will know that you were really listening when you ask a question about what they said. Now notice how they listen to you when you speak. See if you notice any difference from before, when you didn’t listen as carefully.