Ancient Wisdom for Parenting Children – Part 4

Standards for Being a Good Student and Child

(A Guide to a Happy Life)

Chapter 4

Being Trustworthy”

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

The second chapter titled “Interacting with Others Away from Home” taught us the principle and standard of conduct for younger children towards older adults. It also taught us how to show respect to the elders and what our correct attitudes and manners should be.

The third chapter titled “Being Mindful in Daily Life” taught us how we should be cautious in whatever we do daily, whether we are interacting with people, matters or things.

This is the fourth chapter from Di Zi Gui and is titled “Being Trustworthy”. It teaches us to be a trustworthy person. It also teaches us that we need to be cautious in the language we use, as well in our behavior, and in our thoughts.

First Standard

When we speak, honesty counts the most.
Deceit and lies are unacceptable.
It is better to talk a little than chat too much.
Tell the truth; do not speak insincerely.
Cunning, deceptive speech, and foul language should never be used. We should never conduct ourselves in an unruly manner.

Whenever we speak, we should always tell the truth. Telling lies and exaggerating the truth is wrong. When we don’t tell the truth, we can mislead others and create problems for those who believe we are telling the truth.

Second Standard

We should not readily talk about something we have not seen for it may not be the whole truth.
We should not readily pass on to others what we do not know for sure.

If we don’t know something for certain, telling it to others can create big problems.

Third Standard

If someone asks us to do something and we are not sure whether it is appropriate, we should not carelessly promise.
If we do promise to do something [and it is inappropriate], we will be wrong whether we keep or break our promise.

Often, people we know will ask us to do something for them. But before we do it, we need to ask ourselves if is appropriate to do. If we promise to do something, without first finding out if it is proper to do, we will most likely end up being wrong no matter what we do. If we do something we promised to do, and it was improper, then we would be wrong. On the other hand, if we break out promise, then we will also be wrong.

So it’s important, that we think carefully before we promise to do something. If possible, ask our parents first.

But what if someone is asking us to do something right now; what should we do? We can ask ourselves if this is something our parents taught us was acceptable to do. Or was it something I was allowed to do before. We could also ask ourselves what our older brother or sister would do at our age.

If we are still unsure, then it is much better to explain that before we can promise to do it, we must first check with our parents. Not making a promise right away is much better than doing something wrong or breaking a promise.

Fourth Standard

When speaking, say each word  unhurriedly, clearly, and correctly.
Do not mumble or talk too fast.
Some people like to gossip and comment about the faults or good points of others.
But if something does not concern us, we should not get involved.

When we speak, we need to ensure that we speak clearly and properly. We also need to speak not too quickly nor not too slowly. Also, we need to not speak loud enough to be heard, but not too loud where we would become annoying. Finally, we need to avoid mumbling since this too would be annoying.

Once we understand how to speak properly, we need to be careful what we say; such as in gossiping. What is gossip? Gossip is where we speak about someone else’s affairs. For example; when we speak about how we heard from a friend that someone else was grounded for staying out too late; or how another friend had her phone taken away for texting too much. Since we are talking about something personal, we are gossiping.

But what if it is something good we are talking about? Such as my friend who is going on a camping trip with his Dad. Is that still gossiping? Actually it is because it is personal and it is not any of our business.

When can we speak about others where it will not be considered gossip? If I say that a friend is a good softball player and I hope to be as good as him someday, then I am not gossiping. Why? Because now we are not spreading rumor or hearsay; we actually know what we’re talking about.

Fifth Standard

When we see the goodness of others, we should encourage ourselves to learn from them.
Even if we are far behind them, gradually we will achieve as they have.
When we see the faults of others, we should reflect on our own behavior.
If we have the same fault, correct it.
If we do not have this fault, we should always be alert and not make the same mistake.

It’s always nice to see others doing good deeds. We may see a friend open a door for an elderly man or see our neighbor help our mother wash our dog. When seeing these things, we may say to ourselves that we could never do something like that. It was easy for others, but not for us. We might even find an excuse for not doing it, like I’m in a hurry and do not have time or I did not think of it at the time.

Even though our friend and neighbor were able to do good deeds, they most likely were reluctant at first, just like you are. They were able to learn from others so you too must learn from watching others. With time and practice, you will be the one others want to be like.

But what if we see others doing bad deeds, doing something wrong? Like laughing about how someone looks or running ahead to get in line in front of someone. But if we look closer, we may see that we are doing the same kind of things. So we need to think before we criticize others. Instead of telling others that they need to change their behavior, we need to change our behavior first.

If you’re lucky enough to not already have this bad behavior, be careful to not develop it in the future!

Sixth Standard

When our morals, knowledge, and skills are not as good as those of others, we should encourage ourselves to try harder.
If the clothes we wear and the food we eat are not as good as what others have, do not feel sad.

When our knowledge and skills are not as good as others, we should not give up on ourselves. Instead, we should try harder to be like those we admire and respect.

Seventh Standard

If criticism makes us angry and compliments make us happy, we will attract bad company, while good friends will leave us.
If we are appreciative of criticism and uneasy with compliments, people who are virtuous, sincere, and trustworthy will gradually become our friends.

All of our friends want us to be happy and they want only good things to happen for us. So when we do something wrong, they will tell us. They do not so this to make us feel angry or sad, but because they care about us. They want us to become a better person. Since we trust our friends and their judgment, we should listen to their criticism.

Friends are not going to say nice things to get something from you; they say them because you deserve it. They’re trying to encourage you us to do better because they know that’s what we are striving to do.

But what if we only want to be complimented? Even worse, we become angry when we are criticized. If we behave this way, we will never have any friends. In short, when we only want to be complimented and not want to be criticized, we will attract people who are untrustworthy and insincere. We will be surrounded by people who flatter us because they want something.

To make sure this does not happen to us, we need to be able to appreciate criticism from our friends. We should find comfort knowing they are the ones that truly care about us.

Eighth Standard

If we accidentally make a mistake, it is only an error.
But if we do it on purpose, it is definitely wrong.
If we correct our faults and mistakes and do not repeat them, then they will cease. But if we try to cover them up, we will be doubly wrong.

We all make mistakes. When we make a mistake and we didn’t mean to, then it was only an error. Perhaps we forgot to change our clothes before leaving for school. Maybe we came home from school and forgot to go to softball practice. These are honest mistakes and anyone can make them.

But if we make a mistake on purpose, then we have definitely done something wrong. Maybe we forgot to change our clothes because the new clothes our parents bought for us are not the kind we like to wear. Maybe we forgot to go to softball practice because you feel that you are not very good compared to the others and no longer enjoy playing the game.

So it’s important to realize that when we make a mistake, we need to decide whether the mistake was an accident or on purpose. Why is this important?

If they were mistakes, we need to understand why they were made and to correct them. If the clothes our parents are buying for us are not the ones we like, consider discussing with them the kinds of clothes you are comfortable wearing. If we are not comfortable going to softball practice because we are not as good as the others, consider speaking with someone who has the skills you admire, and ask them if they could help you learn.

But what if we did something wrong on purpose?

We need to think about why we behaved in such a way. Were we angry about something? Did we want to do something else instead?

Understanding why we did something wrong helps us to correct the mistake. Once we understand why we made the mistake, then correct it, the happier we will be.

Once we understand why we make mistakes, either by accident or on purpose, we can stop making them. As we make fewer mistakes, we will be more comfortable with ourselves and be happier.

So instead of not wanting to wear clothes our parents have bought for us, we can speak with them about the kinds of clothes we are comfortable wearing. Then a compromise can be reached where everyone is happy. And instead of not being very comfortable playing softball, we can ask a friend to help us become better. Once we have confidence in our skills, we will enjoy playing the game much more.

But if we try to cover up our mistakes, not only will they become worse, but we will continue to make many more.

So the best thing we can do is to simply admit we made a mistake, understand why we made the mistake, then decide not to repeat it. This is how we improve ourselves and become a happier person.