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Dialogues with The Elder
On Obligations and Morality -

Dialogue 3: The Multigenerational Extended Family



By Feng Xin-Ming, 2014

跟长者的对话 - 伦理、道德



对话三:多代大家庭



冯欣明著,2014年

(To "Dialogue 1: Having Children")
(To "Dialogue 2: Raising Children, Marriage")
(To "Dialogue 4: Homosexuality")

到“对话一:生儿女”
到“对话二:养育儿女、婚姻”
到“对话四:同性恋”
The Elder said:

Having and raising children is the natural morality of the universe; we are all obligated to have and to raise children. And both biological parents should marry to raise their biological children together. The multigeneration extended family is a great achievement in human morality. Persons with homosexual sexual orientations, just like persons with heterosexual sexual orientations, should also fulfill these same obligations - having different sexual orientations doesn’t mean one has different obligations...
长者说:

生儿育女,天经地义,我们都有义务和责任生孩子和养育孩子。同时,两个生理上的父母都应该结婚,一起来养育他们生理上的孩子。多代大家庭是人类道德的一个重大成就。具有同性恋性倾向的人跟具有异性恋性倾向的人一样,都应该践行这些义务和责任;具有不同的性倾向并不意味具有不同的义务和责任。。。
(Cont'd from previous: "Dialogues-2"......)

I:   ... What is there left to morally bind a couple together after the children are raised?

Elder:   ... That big moral reason is: continuing to cooperate in order to create a multi-generational extended family of much more total overall mutual help and therefore greater morality, since mutual help is morality, instead of splitting the family up into merely two-generational nuclear families with much less total overall mutual help and therefore lesser morality.

This includes cooperating to continue to help and nurture the children, especially helping them raise the grandchildren. A couple more pairs of hands is much better than none, especially when these hands are commited due to the emotional bonds of being family. Also, the grandparents are more relaxed and under less work pressure, and will have much more patience with the children. Having other adults than one's parents to provide nurture and culture will only enrich the grandchildren.

Building an extended family also includes providing a focus for the offspring to wholeheartedly, with full commitment, support and care for you in your old age and infirmity, since you wholeheartedly, with full commitment, support and care for each other and for them and their offspring.

On the contrary, if you are separated and then remarried, the offspring will feel less or even no urge to support and care for you.

Your remaining together provides a moral example of full commitment to mutual help, mutual caring and mutual support.

The multigenerational extended family is a great achievement for human morality.

(续上篇:“对话二”...)

:... 孩子们养育成人后,还剩下什么可以在道德上把夫妇绑在一起的呢?

长者:... 重大的道德理由就是:继续合作,建设一个几代人的、互助多得更多因而更道德的(因为互助就是道德)大家庭,而不是把家庭分裂为几个只有两代人的、互助少得更多因而没有这么多道德的核子家庭。

这包括合作来继续帮助和养育子女,尤其是帮助他们养育孙儿女。多两对手总比没有好得多,尤其是两对坚持的、具有家人感情的手。而且,祖父母比父母更为轻松,没有这么大的工作压力,对孙子们更有耐心。除了父母之外,得到其他富于感情的成人提供养育和文化,只会使到孙子们的栽培更为丰富。

建设大家庭亦包括为子女提供一个全心全意供养照顾老弱父母的凝聚核心,因为你们全心全意地互相照顾和照顾他们及他们的子女。

相反,如果你们分居重婚的话,子女们会觉得没有那么大的动机或甚至没有动机,去供养和照顾你们。

你们继续在一起,将会提供一个全心全意互相帮助、互相照顾、互相支持的典范。

多代大家庭,这是人类道德上的一个重大成就。

I:   Goodness, you must be kidding; I thought the multigenerational extended family was just a relic of Chinese feudal times! Just read Ba Jin's 1931 novel "Family" and you can see how horrible the multigenerational extended family was! And you want to revive that horror?

Elder:   Very good point, very representative of popular thinking. Have you read Ba Jin's "Family"?

:哎哟,这是开玩笑吗?我以为多代大家庭不过是中国封建时代的古董罢了!看一下巴金1931年的小说《家》就可以看到多代大家庭多么坏了!要恢复这么恐怖的东西吗?

长者:啊,很好的论点,对当代流行观点很有代表性。有没有看过巴金的《家》呢?

I:   No, not the original work, but I've read about it.

Elder:   Oh my, you must read the original. Well, I've read it. Right after I read Ba Jin's book "Family", I wrote in my diary: "His accusations against 'the big family' are only the accusations against marriages arranged by elders and against obedience to elders. The basis for his self-righteousness is nothing other than love, it's the love from the West. (See this essay criticizing the West's supremacy of love.)" Ba Jin's accusations against the extended family is invalid, because the extended family does not necessarily mean that elders will force marriages on the younger people, nor that elders must be absolutely obeyed. Those are not things integral to the extended family; those are non-issues, false crimes forced onto the extended family. What the extended family means and what is integral to the extended family, is the close-knit mutual help among several generations of family members, as expressed in the family members living together or in close proximity, and in the married siblings living together or in close proximity with their parents. Now in the history of multigenerational extended families in China, has there been forcing marriages on younger people, or demanding that elders be absolutely obeyed? Of course, but the mistakes that our forebears have made, we don't need to make them today. We shouldn't totally negate our forebears' great, correct and good things just because we don't want to make their mistakes; we shouldn't throw out the baby with the dirty bath water.

Ba Jin doesn't say a word about the good things of the extended family. The multigenerational extended family is a great and good thing in human history. The extended family not only most effectively looks after the older generation, but also most effectively looks after the younger generation. The extended family not only most effectively utilizes the grandparents, so that even after gettting old and retiring they can still look after the grandchildren and provide consultation and opinions to the offspring and to the grandchildren, but also most effectively utilizes mutual help among the women, so that among the aunties they can mutually look after each other's children, much more effectively, not needing to always be only one-on-one but can be one-on-several, and so that the women can cooperate to look after the eldery, not needing to be only one-on-one but can be several-on-one. This way, not only do the grandchildren get better and more diversified interactions with adults, but also the women can better participate in socioeconomic work, especially as information technology advances and work at home becomes more widespread. As technology advances, the multigenerational extended family will become more and more attractive to people.

:没有看过原著,但我看过相关的文章。

长者:哎呀,必须看原著啊,我看过。我刚读完了巴金的《家》时,在我的日记就写下:“他对“大家庭”的指控,只不过是对长辈安排的婚姻和对服从长辈的指控。他振振有词的凭据只不过是爱,是西方的爱。(可以参考这篇批评西方的以爱为至上的文章。)”巴金对大家庭的指控是无效的,因为大家庭并不意味一定要长辈逼婚,并不意味一定要对长辈绝对服从;这些都不是大家庭属本质性的东西,而都是伪命题,是强加于大家庭的莫须有罪状。大家庭所意味的、属本质性的,是多代家人之间的紧密互助,表现于几代人同住或住得很靠近,几个结了婚的兄弟跟他们的父母同住或住得很靠近。中国多代大家庭历史上,逼婚的现象、对长辈绝对服从的现象,有没有发生过?当然有,但是,前人犯过的错误我们现代人可以不犯,而不应该因为不犯前人的错误就全盘否定前人的重大正确好事,不应该随着脏的洗澡水连婴儿也倒掉。

巴金只字不提大家庭的好处。多代大家庭是人类历史上的重大好事,多代大家庭既最有效地照顾了上一代,也最有效地照顾了下一代,既最有效地使用了祖父母的作用,就算是老了退休了也能够看顾孙儿,为子女孙儿提供咨询意见,亦最有效地使用了女性们的互助作用,姨婶们之间可以互相看管孩子,不需要老是一对一而可以一对几,有效多了,也可以合作照顾老人,不需要一对一而可以几对一。这样不但孩子得到更好更多元的成人互动,而且女性也可以更好地参与社会经济工作,尤其是随着信息科技的发展和在家里工作的越来越普及。随着科技的进展,多代大家庭将会对人们越来越具吸引力。

I:   Why do you only speak of the advantages of the extended family for the women, as if only women take part in work on the home and looking after the children and the elderly. Don't men also take part?

Elder:   Ha ha ha, a good question! Of course, men also should take part in work on the home and looking after the children and the elderly. Men, however, often just don't take part enough, or take part not so well. For example, when cleaning house they often feel that they've finished cleaning and sit down to relax, but as soon as the women come home they feel the house is still a mess, very unkempt. Often this is based on biological differences between the sexes. That's why a few years ago the "Economist" magazine published a cartoon showing a sweating and panting woman with a briefcase in one hand and a child in the other, carrying on her back a husband who is happily waving his briefcase, walking her way up a slanted slope. That is a very succinct depiction of the nuclear family: it is mainly the women who suffer. Of course, along with suffering by the women, the husbands and the children also suffer. The very target of liberation and help by the multigenerational extended family and the chief beneficiaries of the multigenerational extended family, are none other than the women.

:为什么只说大家庭对女性的好处,好像是只有女性才从事家庭事务,才看管子女、照顾老人。男性不参与吗?

长者:呵呵呵,问得好!男性当然也应该参与家庭事务、看管子女、照顾老人,但是,男性很多时总是参与不够、参与不好,例如清理房屋他们老是觉得已经清理好了,坐下休闲了,但女性一走进来就觉得房屋还是一塌糊涂,非常糟。很多时这是基于性别生理上的不同。所以,前几年《经济学人》杂志就刊登了一张漫画:一个流着汗喘着气的女人,一手提着公事包、一手牵着孩子、背起喜悦地挥动自己公事包的丈夫,在斜坡上向上走。这就是核子家庭的缩影:受苦的主要还是妇女。当然,随着妇女的受苦,丈夫和子女也都受苦。而多代大家庭解放、帮助的主要对象,多代大家庭的主要得益者,就正是妇女。

I:   But then there will be no independence from the parents — the offspring want to be independent, have their own lives, build their own homes, yet you make them still live with their parents. And there will be no privacy either — the parents will poke their noses into the married offspring’s affairs and interfere with everything!

Elder:   Ah, but the big family is also their own lives, their own homes; they don't need to be in nuclear families to have their own lives and their own homes — the only difference is that they are building a communal life and they are building their own communal homes, instead of isolated, lonely, fearful, unsupported nuclear family lives and homes. Also, people have their own private domains inside a public domain; they have their own units inside a linked compound.

As for parents poking their noses into the married offspring’s affairs and interfering with everything, first, there’s a disincentive for that to happen because the parents are too busy: they are busy with not only their own lives but also with all the grandchildren. Second: the ideal is to have separate units that can stand alone, with their own kitchens and so forth, but linked to the other units and sharing common family living areas, a common big kitchen, a common playground/yard for the kids, and perhaps even a common library and sports area, etc. That will allow for plenty of privacy. Third, you do want some sharing of your life with someone other than just your spouse. Day in, day out, facing the same adult of a similar age and of the opposite sex can make him boring and bothersome. Then his smallest faults become magnified and you can see only the faults; it’s easy to act with less civility and less respect when two people are forced to be the only adults together for so much of one’s non-working time.

:但是,子女将会没有脱离父母的独立性了,子女们希望独立,拥有自己的生活,建设自己的家,但这样就仍然要跟父母一同居住。而且,将会没有私隐了,父母将会对结了婚的子女们什么事情都要知道,都要插手!

长者:啊,但大家庭里,子女们仍然拥有自己的生活和家,并不是一定要居住在核子家庭里才能拥有自己的生活和自己的家。不同的是,子女们所建设的将会是一个公共的生活、公共的家,而不是孤立的、寂寞的、充满惊恐的、不获支持的核子生活、核子家庭。而且,在公众范围里面他们仍然会拥有自己的私人范围,在联系起来的房屋组里面他们会有自己的单位。

至于父母将会对结了婚的子女们什么事情都要知道,都要插手,首先,这种情况的发生将会被一件事妨碍:父母太忙了,不但忙于自己生活,也忙于孙子。第二,最理想的是每对夫妇都有独立的、具备厨房等设施的单位,只是跟其他单位联系起来,共有共同的大家庭生活地方,共同的大厨房、共同的孩子游玩场地、甚至共同的图书馆、运动场所、等等。这样就有很多私隐空间,第三,除了配偶之外,是应该跟其他成人共同生活一点的。日夜都只面对着同一个年岁差不多的异性成人,将会使你对他失去兴趣,觉得他惹人烦闷。他最小的缺陷会变为放大,你会只看到缺陷;当两个人被逼在大多数工余时间内只能跟对方作为成人之间的相处,很容易互相比较不礼貌、不文明。

I:   Isn't this mutual cooperation and mutual help among members of the multigenerational extended family just wishful thinking? Even without Ba Jin's forced marriages and absolute obedience to elders, doesn't several couples living together always result in infighting and plotting against each other?

Elder:   It's not wishful thinking. Several couples living together doesn't have to result in infighting and plotting against each other. This is a slander against the multigenerational extended family by popular culture, painting it as ugly, evil, oppressive of women, rife with conspiracies by the family members against each other. Actually, this is due to zero sum thinking and thinking that is contemptuous of the morality of Chinese people.

:多代大家庭的成员互相合作,互相帮助,不过是一厢情愿吧?就算没有巴金的逼婚和对长辈的绝对服从,几对夫妇住在一起,不就是勾心斗角吗?

长者:并不是一厢情愿,几对夫妇住在一起,并不一定就是勾心斗角。这是流行文化对多代大家庭的抹黑,把它描述为丑恶的、压迫妇女的、互相暗算的。其实,就是零和思想和藐视中国人道德的思想在作怪。

I:   It's not just popular culture that says this about the extended family, even the "Dream of the Red Chamber" from the Ming Dynasty says the same thing, isn't that so?

Elder:   No, that is not so. The multigenerational extended families depicted in the "Dream of the Red Chamber" were indeed evil, but those were multigenerational extended families of very wealthy high officials, and not the multigenerational extended families of ordinary people. And where did the wealth of the very wealthy high officials come from? From corruption! Therefore they were unclearn, but just because at the time such families, which were in an extreme minority, were unclean, we cannot say that all multigenerational extended families were also unclean.

:不单是流行文化这样说大家庭啊,连明朝的《红楼梦》也是这样说大家庭啊,不是吗?

长者:不是。《红楼梦》说的多代大家庭,的确是黑暗,但那是大富豪官员的多代大家庭啊,并不是普通人的多代大家庭。而大富豪官员的财富,来自什么?就是来自贪污!所以他们是不干净的,不能因为当时这种占极少数的大家庭不干净,就说为所有当时的大家庭都不干净。

I:   Is there really hope for the multigenerational extended family? Won't people always be selfish? For the aunties to look after the nephews and neices, won't there always be favoritism for one's own children and therefore there will always be disputes among the aunties? Aren't women more emotional? Can they be that rational? What's more, no matter who, there will aways be some time when the opinions cannot be the same, what to do then? When people start to argue won't they damage their feelings for each other and might even become enemies? Isn't it true that "visiting is fine but living together is not?"

Elder:   Of course there is hope, because the extended family is based on mutual help, exchange, and win-win. In particular the extended family is for truly liberating women, so that they live happy fulfilling lives. It is not like the TV shows, always depicting some infighting to the death over some inheritance. Besides, the world is now progressing, ways of communication and technology are much better than before, so if there's a will, then misunderstandings won't happen so easily, communication will be very good, fully dialoguing will be very easy. Full cooperation, timely mutual feedback about expectations and discrepancies, and discussions of improvement measures, will all be much easier than before. Of course, for this to become the general state of society, the zero-sum thinking, the domination-instead-of-dialogue thinking, the cynical thinking that suspects the motives of others, thinking so widely pushed by popular culture, must be strongly criticized by those who work in the fields of public opinion, culture, and education. Win-win thinking, thinking that emphasizes dialogue and cooperation, thinking that believes in honesty and trustworthiness and respect the character and honor of others, must be strongly advocated. Fiction and literature must create characters who possess these kinds of thinking and depict their noble behavior. I am not worried; humans are very rational and along with advances in information technology they will doubtlessly do that. People's character will become more and more noble, people's behavior will become more and more compatible with mutual help, mutual benefit and win-win. "Visiting is fine but living together is not" is erroneous thinking that have contempt for people's character and ability to communicate, is pessimistic, and does not correspond to reality.

As for being selfish, being "selfish" isn't a bad thing; it is exactly because one wants one's condition to improve that one will engage in mutual help, mutual benefit and win-win activities in order to sustainably keep making one's condition better and better through. The problem is being "selfish" in a foolish and ignorant way, trying to benefit oneself by harming others, resulting in harming others but not benefiting oneself, and even when on occassion incidentally benefiting oneself, the benefiting is not sustainable. That's because the basic mechanism governing humans is mutual exchange and mutual help. Only through this can humans obtain benefit sustainably, and doing the opposite will in the end result in either no benefit to oneself, or harm. Therefore, as long as it is enlightened, being "selfish" isn't a bad thing.

As for possible favoritism to one's own offspring when the aunties look after the nephews and neices and therefore causing disputes, this is absolutely resolvable through communication, dialogue and cooperation. Of course, this also applies to the males, the uncles. So-called favoritism is often just imagined by overly anxious parents. Parents should relax a bit: the healthy growth and development of children does not depend on keeping them in an artificial hot house environment, on making sure they are always the "best" in the group, or the "leader" of the group. Actually, this exerts undue pressure on the child and sometimes they even grow up to be self-centered jerks.

As for women being more emotional and less rational, I can't agree with that. We often see during courtship and the selection of mates the women being more rational and the men relying just on emotions. Among both men and women there are individuals who are more emotional and less rational. This condition is often related to mental health, with the main problems being depression and anxiety. Both these defects in mental health often make the sufferer mistake other's intentions, ill-tempered, angry, abd say or do things that are not rational or even cruel and hurtful. Modern medicine, however, has developed effective medications to treat these conditions, and is perfecting cognitive and counseling therapies. People no longer need to be indefinitely tormented by these mental conditions. Also, these mental conditions usually result from many years, often since childhood, of using zero-sum thinking, thinking that substitutes domination for dialogue, and cynical thinking that suspects the motives of others. Thus, along with the progress in human thinking and character brought about by technology and the popularization of the extended family, these conditions will become rare, people will become more and more moral, and happier and happier.

As for what to do if opinions differ, among themselves the couples must maintain a win-win, mutually beneficial, cooperative, rational type of dialogue, and do their best to communicate and compromise. The elderly parents have a great responsibility in protecting this type of dialogue and protecting the spirit of communication and compromise; they must not allow the offspring and their spouses to fight with and become hostile toward each other. If necessary the elderly parents can cast a decisive vote. If the elderly parents are no longer alive, then the majority or the older brother or older sister should decide. If the elderly parents are deceased and the differences are very severe, then the dissenting party can "divide up the property and live apart", and independently establish his own extended family. All this, however, must be under the conditions of continued rational dialogue, after dividing up everyone must still cooperate, and no one should become hostile or turn into enemies.

:多代大家庭真的有希望吗?人不总是有自私之心吗?姨婶看顾侄子,不总是会偏心自己子女,因而总是会跟其他姨婶引起争执吗?女人不是比较感情用事的吗?能够那么理性吗?而且,无论是谁,都必定有些时候会意见不一致的,那时怎么办?吵起来不便是破坏感情,甚至变为敌对仇视吗?不是“相见好,同住难”吗?

长者:当然有希望,因为这是基于互助、交换、双赢的,尤其是为了真正解放妇女、让她们生活幸福快乐的,而不是好像电视片那样,总是描述什么为了争夺家产就零和地明争暗斗个你死我活的。而且,世界现在进步了,人类沟通方法和科技比以前好得多了,只要有愿望的话,就不那么容易误会了,沟通就会很好,充分对话很容易。充分合作,及时互相反映期望及任何差别,讨论改良措施,都容易得多了。当然,要社会普遍地这样,现在很大部分流行文化推行的零和思维、以欺压代替对话的思维、和犬儒怀疑他人动机的思维,都需要舆论、文化、和教育工作者大力批判。双赢思维、对话合作思维、和诚信尊重他人品德的思维,都需要大力宣扬。虚构小说、文学等需要塑造具这种思维的人物和描述他们的高尚行为。我对此并不担心,人类非常有理性,随着信息科技的发展,人们一定会这样做,品德变为越来越高尚,行为越来越有利于互助互利和共赢。“相见好,同住难”是藐视人们品格和沟通能力的、悲观的、不符合实际的错误思想。

至于自私之心,“自私”并不是坏事:正是因为期望自己状况更好,所以便会通过互助互利和共赢的方法来可持续地使自己状况越来越好。问题是愚昧无知的“自私”,企图通过损人的方式来利己,结果是损人不利己,就算是一时偶然利了己,都是不能持续的,因为人类的基本规律就是互相交换、互相帮助。只有这样才能持续地得到利益,与此背道而驰就只会最终得不到利益,损害自己。所以,只要明智,“自私”并不是坏事。

至于姨婶看顾侄子可能会偏心自己子女的,因而可能会跟其他姨婶引起争执的,这是绝对可以通过沟通对话合作而解决的。母亲们也绝对可以轮流看顾大家的孩子嘛。当然,以上说的对男人,即对叔伯舅们,也适合。而且,所谓的偏心很多时不过是父母过于紧张所臆想出来的。父母们应该放松一点了,孩子健康的成长,并不在于保持他们于温室的虚构环境之中,让他们永远是群体中“最优秀”的、“做领袖”的。其实,这种做法很多时对孩子是不健康的压力,有时会长大变为只顾自己的混蛋。

至于女人比较感情用事、比较不理性,这个我不能认同。选偶求偶期间很多时女性比较理性,而男性则只是感情用事。男女都有个别人比较感情用事、比较不理性。这个情况很多时跟心态健康有关系,问题主要是抑郁症和焦虑症。这两种心态健康的缺陷,很多时使到患者误会别人的动机、暴懆、愤怒,说出或做出不理智甚至是残暴的说话或事情。但是,现代医疗对此可以提供有效的药物治疗,也正在逐步完善思维治疗法和辅导治疗法,人们不需要被这些心态症状无终止地折磨了。而且,这些心态症状多数是自小多年来使用零和思维、以欺压代替对话的思维、和犬儒怀疑他人动机的思维所造成的;随着科技进步和大家庭的普及所必然带来的人们思维和品德的进步,这些症状将会变为罕见,人们将会越来越道德,亦越来越快乐。

至于意见不一致怎么办,几对夫妇就一定要保持双赢互利的、合作性的、理性的对话,尽量沟通妥协。老一辈的父母对保护这种对话和保护尽量沟通妥协的精神负有重大的责任,不能放任子女媳婿反目吵骂。必要时老一辈的父母可以投决定性的一票。如果老一辈的父母不在,那么应该让多数和做大哥、大姐的作决定。如果老一辈的父母不在,分歧又很严重,那么不同意的一方可以“分家”,脱离大家庭,创立自己的大家庭。但尽管这样都仍然应该保持理性的对话,分家后仍然大家合作,不能变为敌视或仇恨。

I:   Fine, but while we can expect the young and the middle age to be rational and capable of compromise, can we expect that of the elderly? Their thinking is obsolete, their concepts are rigid and fossilized, yet they are stubborn and demand respect and obedience from others - how can we live together every day?

Elder:   Now just wait a second here, respect is not identical to obedience. Respect is to listen to their opinions with focused concentration, let them completely and thoroughly say their piece, and dialogue with them politely. Respect is not blind obedience. In the Classic of Xiao (Being Good to Parents and Ancestors), "Chapter 15 Dissuading and Disputing", Confucius stressed that blindly obeying parents is not xiao. Moreover, once offspring are grown to adulthood, parents should no longer demand obedience.

Although the thinking of the elderly may be obsolete and their concepts may be fossilized, their experience is very valuable, and their opinions are worthwhile as reference. Moreover, what is most valuable is different opinions; only through the exchange of different or even opposing ideas can thinking become clearer, concepts become more fleshed out, and decisions become more intelligent. Being together every day, one can access this consultative resource any time - isn't that very valuable?

Also, when several couples live with the elderly, the elderly can look after the grandchildren and lessen the load on the parents, especially the mothers, and even when nannies are hired the elderly can supervise and direct; all that is very valuable. Besides, for the elderly, while they now help their offspring and their spouses raise the grandchildren, in the future when the elderly become infirm and need caring for, the offspring and their spouses and even the grandchildren will certainly in turn care for them. On the contrary, to only seek fun and leisure once one retires, saying "I've already done my share of raising children" and not help the offspring raise grandchildren, letting them go through all kinds of hardship, then when one becomes infirm and immobile it will be harder to ask the next generation to care for one. Of course, it's not that one shouldn't ask, it's just that it's now harder.

:好吧,好吧,年轻人和壮年人尚且可以期待他们有理性和能够妥协,但是老人呢?老人思想过时、理念僵化,但仍然又顽固又要求家人尊敬服从,怎能与其天天共处呢?

长者:且慢,且慢,尊敬不等于服从。尊敬是集中注意力倾听他们的意见,让他们尽量说完说清,跟他们有礼貌地对话,而不是盲目服从。在孝经的“谏诤章第十五“孔子就强调,盲目服从父母并不是孝。而且,子女们长大了成人后,父母们就不应该再要求他们服从。

老人虽然可能思想过时、理念僵化,但他们的经验是非常宝贵的,意见也是非常值得参考的。而且,不同的意见才是最有价值的,经过不同的甚至相反的理念交流,思想才会更加清楚,概念才会更加充实,决策才会更加明智。天天相处,随时都能够接取这个咨询资源,不是很宝贵的吗?

此外,几对夫妻跟老人共住,老人可以看管孙儿,减轻子女媳婿们特别是女性们的负担,就算需要聘请保姆老人也可以做一点监督和指导,这是非常宝贵的。而且,对老人来说,你现在帮助你的子女媳婿养育孙子,将来你老弱需要照顾时子女媳婿甚至孙子就当然会反过来照顾你,这是保证老年快乐的明智之举啊。相反,一旦退休就逍遥自在,说一声“我已经养育完孩子了”就不帮助下一代养育孙子,让他们历尽艰难,到真正老弱走不动时要求下一代照顾你就比较难了。当然,不是不应该,而是比较难一点罢了。

I:   To demand that the elderly live with their offspring and help them look after the grandchildren, isn't this robbing the elderly of freedom and enjoyment after retirement?

Elder:   Not at all. As an elderly, you have the right to not live with your offspring, and even if you live with them you have the right to not look after the grandchildren. Many elderly, however, will choose to because they feel doing this will bring them much happiness, so that they won't become those lonely old people with nothing to do, eventually feeling themselves to be useless.

Also, besides having an obligation to raise one's offspring, one also has an obligation to help raise one's grandchildren, because nurturing them and transmitting one's individual culture to them will, just as in raising offspring, help the progress of mankind.

(...Continued)

:要老人跟子女同住,帮助他们照顾孙子,这不是掠夺老人退休后的自由和享受吗?

长者:当然不是,作为老人,你有权不跟子女同住,跟他们同住也有自由不照顾孙子。但是,有很多老人退休后会选择这样做,因为会感觉这样做很幸福,不会变为孤寂的、没事做的、甚至是没用的人。

此外,一个人除了有责任和义务养育子女之外,也有责任和义务帮助养育孙子,因为把他们栽培,传递你的个人文化,将会好像养育子女一样,有助于人类的进步。

... 继续



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