The previous passage told us that when exhorting our parents to change their faults, we should be persistent. However, if our parents become upset, we should immediately stop and wait for a day when our parents are in a better mood to continue. Our persistence should be like the stickiness of taffy. Not only is it soft and sweet, but it is extremely sticky; we must not give up until our parents change for the better. If the need arises, we may even break down in tears, until our parents cannot bear to be willful anymore. What if, instead of listening to us, our parents scold us and say we are wrong, or even hit us? The ancient sages of China gave a good piece of advice﹕ "If they beat us with a small stick, we should endure it. If they come with a big stick, we should run away."
Zeng Zi (Confucius' disciple) was renowned for his
filial piety. Once when he was digging the earth, he accidentally hacked through the root of a melon plant. His father was so furious that he grabbed a club and gave his son a fierce beating. Zeng Zi was lame for several days. But knowing that his father would feel bad if he knew, Zeng Zi acted happy and didn't dare let his father find out that he had been seriously hurt. When Confucius heard about this, he not only didn't praise Zeng Zi for being filial, but rather scolded him for being foolish and
not filial. Why? Because he had allowed his parents to incur a reputation of unkindness. If Zeng Zi had ended up permanently crippled or dead, his father would undoubtedly have been imprisoned and punished, and would have had to suffer disgrace and regret for the rest of his life. One who truly understands the meaning of
filial piety would not act so foolishly.
If our parents scold or hit us a few
times, we might as well bear it, for the pain will go away soon.
There's no need to make a big deal and think they are abusing
us. Actually, when parents hit their children, they feel the
pain in their own hearts. However, if our parents lose their
minds and beat us viciously, then it's time to run and hide!
Nowadays people pay a lot of attention
to the problem of child abuse, but the measures taken to prevent
it are sometimes a bit excessive. Parents who occasionally
punish their children may be charged with child abuse and have
their children taken away from them; this results in unnecessary
psychological harm to both sides. Sometimes children take
advantage of this situation and use it to threaten their
parents, so that parents don't dare to be stern with their
children. The lack of discipline has resulted in large numbers
of juvenile delinquents. Today's endless social problems are
perhaps a consequence of the abuse of protective policies and
the misunderstood notion of freedom.
In general, it would be best to find a
happy medium. Genuine cases of child abuse should definitely not
be overlooked. On the other hand, measures taken to prevent
child abuse should not be so over reactionary that it becomes
difficult for parents and teachers to discipline children.
There was a young girl whose mother got a divorce. After the divorce, the mother often drank and was very temperamental when she was drunk. If she got upset at her daughter, she would scold or beat her. One day the girl, who was twelve years old at the time, saw her mother beating her little sister, so she ran over to a neighbor's house and called the Child Abuse Hotline for help. The court ruled that the mother was not fit to live with her children. The two sisters were separated and were sent to different foster homes. When the girl went to visit her mother, her mother ignored her. She felt sure that her mother hated her. Yet she found no genuine love or caring in her new foster home either. In reaction to criticism from the adults around her, she learned how to please and flatter them. Sometimes she let out her pent-up emotions and behaved violently toward other children.
When she grew more mature in high school, she made an effort to understand her biological mother. It was only then that she realized how lonely and without support her mother had been, how much she had yearned for her children and been filled with regret. Her mother was even more helpless than before, unable to set her life straight. The daughter hoped to patch up her broken family now, but the law wouldn't allow it!
When children are growing up, there is a time when they are looking for models to follow and idols to worship. This time varies in length and intensity from person to person. Of course parents and elder family members are their earliest models, followed by teachers, famous people in society, and heroes in history. Since parents are the earliest models, they hold an indestructible place in a child's heart. How much wisdom does a child have to judge whether or not his parents are at fault? When children discover that their parents can also make mistakes, imagine their shock and disappointment. Since children rely on adults to give them a standard for right and wrong, how difficult it must be when they not only have to overcome the shock of seeing their parents' errors, but they have to take on the responsibility of exhorting their parents to change.
Nevertheless, we should not underestimate children's intelligence and capabilities. If the children of ancient China were able to do it, so can the Chinese children of today. If Chinese children can do it, so can those of other nationalities. It's just that today's adults are overly protective of children, causing children to lose their natural adaptive abilities and become selfish and neurotic in- stead. Therefore, from all perspectives, it seems that we should go back to the ancient principles; that seems to be the most perfect solution .