Tra­di­tional val­ues should be par­ents’ gift to their chil­dren

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By LI YANG in Bei­jing


For in­spi­ra­tion for his nov­els, Chi­nese No­bel lit­er­a­ture lau­re­ate Mo Yan al­ways turns to his poverty-stricken child­hood of the 1960s, in a vil­lage in Shan­dong prov­ince.

Hunger pangs aside, an im­por­tant part of his child­hood were the lessons doled out by his il­lit­er­ate mother to be hon­est, hard­work­ing and sym­pa­thetic to the poor. Mo said those are the most valu­able lessons he learned for life.

Last week, in Qingyuan, Guang­dong prov­ince, some par­ents took their chil­dren to visit an up­scale res­i­den­tial com­mu­nity made up of ex­pen­sive vil­las, not to buy the real es­tate, but to in­spire the kids to study hard to buy such houses in the fu­ture.

Chil­dren’s Day, which was ob­served on Mon­day, should pro­vide the adults with an op­por­tu­nity to think of how to cre­ate a good en­vi­ron­ment for the chil­dren’s growth to­day. When food and clothes are no longer a con­cern, what else can Chi­nese par­ents give to their chil­dren?

Gift­ing the poor chil­dren some snacks or sta­tionery can make them happy for a long time. But for many chil­dren living with their par­ents at home in the cities, hap­pi­ness is not that sim­ple.

The Peo­ple’s Daily re­ported that it is not un­com­mon to­day for some chil­dren to be the last to leave school to keep class­mates from see­ing their par­ents wait for them in a cheap car out­side the school gate.

It is not un­com­mon ei­ther that some chil­dren like com­par­ing their par­ents’ wealth and of­fi­cial ranks with each other, or some teach­ers treat the chil­dren dif­fer­ently ac­cord­ing to their fam­ily back­grounds. Th­ese are the adult world’s pol­lu­tions of the chil­dren’s life.

Child­hood is a key pe­riod of time in peo­ple’s life. It is a time when they should learn about good living habits, the beauty of na­ture, the im­por­tance of hon­esty and re­spon­si­bil­ity, and the plea­sure of in­no­va­tion. Th­ese lessons will be their life-long as­set, ben­e­fit­ing not only them but also the whole coun­try in the fu­ture.

Wealth and power are by no means the ul­ti­mate mean­ings of life, but only by-prod­ucts of life. And the hap­pi­ness from fam­ily and love is more tan­gi­ble and sus­tain­able than the sense of sat­is­fac­tion orig­i­nat­ing from wealth and power.

All re­spon­si­ble par­ents want their chil­dren to live a happy life. It is a pity that some of them hur­riedly in­still their nar­row un­der­stand­ing of life into their chil­dren’s mind. The pur­pose of study is not only to earn money, but also to lead a mean­ing­ful life and make a big­ger con­tri­bu­tion to so­ci­ety.

The city of­fi­cials of Shang­hai mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ment vis­ited the city’s chil­dren wel­fare as­so­ci­a­tion and chil­dren’s hos­pi­tal on Chil­dren’s Day to care for the needy chil­dren. It is the gov­ern­ment’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to look af­ter needy chil­dren. But what the gov­ern­ment needs to do is more than that for the healthy growth of all chil­dren.

Although China’s fast eco­nomic growth since its mar­ket re­form in the late 1970s im­proved peo­ple’s liveli­hood, it has also taken its toll in many other ways, such as the power abuses and a widen­ing in­come gap.

To avoid the par­ents’ mis­lead­ing ed­u­ca­tion, the au­thor­i­ties should first of all pay more at­ten­tion to close the wealth gap and reg­u­late the prac­tices of power.

As the adults and chil­dren see more priv­i­leges be­hind un­taxed wealth and unchecked power than their du­ties and obligations, they are nat­u­rally in­clined to re­gard wealth and power as their life ob­jec­tives.

There were com­plete sets of tra­di­tional val­ues and moral codes that played im­por­tant roles in run­ning big fam­i­lies and ed­u­cat­ing the young peo­ple in an­cient China. Most of the val­ues and codes are in line with cul­ti­vat­ing good cit­i­zen­ship to­day.

China is build­ing a rule-oflaw coun­try. It is a good be­gin­ning for teach­ers and par­ents to ad­dress the mis­lead­ing val­ues that are passed to or taken by the chil­dren, and bring back the his­tor­i­cal her­itages in bring­ing up the chil­dren.

We’d all do well tak­ing to heart the lessons Mo learned from his mother.

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