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Never Lie to Your Kids – Why Zengzi Slaughtered the Pig

Jul 16, 2010
Mom and Kid

Never lie to a kid | by {link:http://www.flickr.com/photos/seandreilinger/126872576/}sean dreilinger{/link}

Like many aspects of life, parenting is not an easy job for every couple. When the kids fail to behave like what the parents expect them to be, it’s not uncommon that the parents pin all the blame on the kids.

“You should do what I told you. How could you do such such such …?”

One important thing the parents need to know is that the kids are taught by what you DO not what you SAY.

According to Su Shi Jia Yu (an ancient book on how to educate children), “Confucius’s children did not know about swearing at others, and Zengzi’s children did not know about anger. This could only come about because the parents were good at teaching them.” Zengzi’s method of teaching his children has been admired throughout history.

Here is a well-known ancient story about Zeng Zi teaching children.

Never Lie to Your Kids – Why Zengzi Slaughtered the Pig

Zeng Zi, also known as Zeng Shen, is from State of Lu during Spring and Autumn Period. He is a disciple of Confucius. Zengzi was well taught by Confucius. He was not only knowledgeable but also very honest; he never deceived others, even for their children.

One fine morning, Zeng Zi’s wife cleaned up, put on a clean and neat blue clothes, was ready to go shopping in the bazaar. She had not gone far out of the house until the son cried and shouted from behind, clamoring to follow her to the bazaar.


Zengzi Slaughters the pig

As the child is still young and the bazaar is far from home, it’s inconvenient to bring him with her. Therefore, Zeng Zi’s wife coaxed the son saying: “You go back home waiting, I will be back soon. Don’t you like braised pig feet and stewed pork soup? I will kill a pig and cook those for you once I come back.”

These words truly worked. Her son turned immediately quiet, and nicely let her mother go.

When Zeng Zi’s wife came back from the market, not yet entered the house, she already heard the noise of catching pigs in their yard. She entered the door, and saw that Zeng Zi was preparing to slaughter a pig to make a good meal for their son.

At that time, pork was eaten only during major holidays and as a luxury on special occasions, such as a visit from a prestigious person. She quickly tried to stop her husband, said: “We only raised a few pigs for holidays. How do you take seriously my words to coax our kid?”

Zeng Zi said: “We should not lie to our children. They are too young, usually acquire knowledge from their parents, listen to their instructions, and follow what their parents tell them. If we say something to deceive them, that means we teach them to deceive others in the future.

“Although you had a moment to fool the child, he eventually would find out he’s being deceived. Then he would not believe in the parents any longer. From then on, you’ll struggle to educate the child. Is this a good way to teach children?”


Zeng Zi

Zeng Zi

Zeng Zi’s wife thought her husband’s words made sense, so she willingly helped him slaughter a pig, shave its hair, and filleted the meat. Before long, Zeng Zi’s wife cooked a hearty dinner for the son.

Zeng Zi told people with words and deeds, to do something well, even just to the kids, should always be truly done to its words, honestly. Example is better than precept.

All parents should have the same credibility and integrity as Zeng Zi. Therefore they will set a good example with their actions to influence their children and society as a whole.

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