1. When Mother and Father are calling,
answer them right away.
When our parents are far away or in another room,
they may call out to us when they need us. If we do not respond right
away, they may think that we are not around or that we did not hear
them, and they will keep calling until they become hoarse or lose their
temper, neither of which would be good for their health. A truly filial
child would not want his parents to ruin their health like that. He
would not pretend to be deaf or mute when his parents called him, and
he would not dare to disobey them even if he is annoyed at being called.
2. When they give you directions, obey
them without hesitation.
When our parents tell us to do something, whether
sternly or gently, we should obey them right away and not look for
excuses to procrastinate. We shouldn’t act obedient in front of our
parents but then disobey them behind their backs; nor should we do
things in a reluctant manner and keep complaining in front of our
parents or behind their backs.
3. When your parents need to instruct you,
respectfully do as you’re told.
Our parents are much more experienced than we are,
and so when they instruct us on how to communicate with other people
and how to handle various situations, we should listen respectfully to
their words, make sure we understand them, and remember them by heart.
We shouldn’t think our parents are too old-fashioned and simply let
their words go in one ear and out the other. It is said, “All people
are my teachers, and I am everyone’s teacher.” Whether other people are
good or bad, we can always learn something from them; how much the more
can we learn from our parents! We should listen to our parents if they
are right, of course; and if they are unreasonable, we should still be
respectful to them, but not follow their example.
4. Whenever your parents must scold you,
acknowledge your errors and faults.
If we do something wrong or we let down our
parents’ wishes, they may scold us severely or gently remonstrate with
us. No matter how they react, we should compliantly accept their
admonition, and not argue with them or make them angry or upset.
Why are these four sentences placed at the
beginning of the discussion on filiality? They deal with the most
common situations that occur in our homes. We can easily tell from
observing the daily interactions between parents and children whether
the parents are loving and the children are filial. If the children
claim to be filial and yet fail to practice these four basic rules in
daily life, who will believe them? Unfortunately, we tend to neglect
these small matters of daily life and think that they are no big deal.
We don’t realize that if we gradually accumulate these bad habits, we
may end up breaking our parents’ hearts. What’s the use of
claiming to be filial if we don’t actually practice?
In ancient China, there was a man named Ding Lan
who was a rough fellow. Although he and his mother had only each other
to rely upon, he often scolded and beat his mother without any sense of
shame for his unfilial conduct. One day when he was working in the
fields, he suddenly noticed a fawn kneeling down to drink its mother’s
milk. He also saw some young crows busily looking for food to feed
their aging mother. Reflecting on the way he treated his own mother, he
realized that he was not even as good as an animal. He made up
his mind to be filial to his mother from then on. But it just so
happened that on that particular day, his mother was late in sending
lunch to him, and she was afraid she would be scolded and beaten again.
As she hurriedly walked toward her son, she saw Ding Lan running toward
her. Terrified, she dropped the lunch box and turned and fled. When
Ding Lan saw his mother running away, he shouted out and ran even
faster, trying to tell her his intention. His mother cried as she ran,
thinking, “If he catches me this time, he’ll beat me to death for sure!
What misery! It’s meaningless to live in this world!” And so when she
reached the riverbank, she threw herself in and committed suicide. When
Ding Lan reached that place, he saw only a piece of wood floating on
the river. Knowing that he would never see his mother again, he picked
up the wood and took it home, where he treated it as his mother. He
carved his mother’s name on it, set it on the altar, and made offerings
to it. And thus the Chinese custom of setting up memorial plaques to
their ancestors began. Although Ding Lan deeply regretted his
rebellious behavior, it was too late. So there is a saying, “The tree
wants to be still, but the wind keeps on blowing; a child wishes to
repay his parents’ kindness, but they are gone.” If we want to practice
filial piety, we should start early by developing a respectful attitude
toward our parents when we interact with them in daily life. That is
the first step to being filial.
Think it over:
(1).If our parents call us when we are busy,
should we ignore them?
(2).If we are engaged in something important when
our parents tell us to do something else, what should we do?
(3).If parents tell us to do something
unreasonable, how can we deal with the situation without hurting their
(4).If parents scold us for something that we
haven't done, or if their scolding is based on an account that is
partially inaccurate, can we argue with them? What would be the
appropriate attitude to take?