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Dialogues with The Elder
On Obligations and Morality -

Dialogue 3: The Multigenerational Extended Family



By Feng Xin-Ming, 2014

跟長者的對話 - 倫理、道德



對話三:多代大家庭



馮欣明著,2014年

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

到“對話一:生兒女”
到“對話二:養育兒女、婚姻”
到“對話四:同性戀”
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...
長者說:

生兒育女,天經地義,我們都有義務和責任生孩子和養育孩子。同時,兩個生理上的父母都應該結婚,一起來養育他們生理上的孩子。多代大家庭是人類道德的一個重大成就。具有同性戀性傾向的人跟具有異性戀性傾向的人一樣,都應該踐行這些義務和責任;具有不同的性傾向並不意味具有不同的義務和責任。。。
(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.

(續上篇:“對話二”...

:... 孩子們養育成人後,還剩下甚麼可以在道德上把夫婦綁在一起的呢?

長者:... 重大的道德理由就是:繼續合作,建設一個幾代人的、互助多得更多因而更道德的(因為互助就是道德)大家庭,而不是把家庭分裂為幾個只有兩代人的、互助少得更多因而沒有這麼多道德的核子家庭。

這包括合作來繼續幫助和養育子女,尤其是幫助他們養育孫兒女。多兩對手總比沒有好得多,尤其是兩對堅持的、具有家人感情的手。而且,祖父母比父母更為輕鬆,沒有這麼大的工作壓力,對孫子們更有耐心。除了父母之外,得到其他富於感情的成人提供養育和文化,只會使到孫子們的栽培更為豐富。

建設大家庭亦包括為子女提供一個全心全意供養照顧老弱父母的凝聚核心,因為你們全心全意地互相照顧和照顧他們及他們的子女。

相反,如果你們分居重婚的話,子女們會覺得沒有那麼大的動機或甚至沒有動機,去供養和照顧你們。

你們繼續在一起,將會提供一個全心全意互相幫助、互相照顧、互相支持的典範。

多代大家庭,這是人類道德上的一個重大成就。

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"?

:哎喲,這是開玩笑嗎?我以為多代大家庭不過是中國封建時代的古董罷了!看一下巴金1931年的小說《家》就可以看到多代大家庭多麼壞了!要恢復這麼恐怖的東西嗎?

長者:啊,很好的論點,對當代流行觀點很有代表性。有沒有看過巴金的《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.

:沒有看過原著,但我看過相關的文章。

長者:哎呀,必須看原著啊,我看過。我剛讀完了巴金的《家》時,在我的日記就寫下:“他對“大家庭”的指控,只不過是對長輩安排的婚姻和對服從長輩的指控。他振振有詞的憑據只不過是愛,是西方的愛。(可以參考這篇批評西方的以愛為至上的文章)。”巴金對大家庭的指控是無效的,因為大家庭並不意味一定要長輩逼婚,並不意味一定要對長輩絕對服從;這些都不是大家庭屬本質性的東西,而都是偽命題,是強加於大家庭的莫須有罪狀。大家庭所意味的、屬本質性的,是多代家人之間的緊密互助,表現於幾代人同住或住得很靠近,幾個結了婚的兄弟跟他們的父母同住或住得很靠近。中國多代大家庭歷史上,逼婚的現象、對長輩絕對服從的現象,有沒有發生過?當然有,但是,前人犯過的錯誤我們現代人可以不犯,而不應該因為不犯前人的錯誤就全盤否定前人的重大正確好事,不應該隨著髒的洗澡水連嬰兒也倒掉。

巴金隻字不提大家庭的好處。多代大家庭是人類歷史上的重大好事,多代大家庭既最有效地照顧了上一代,也最有效地照顧了下一代,既最有效地使用了祖父母的作用,就算是老了退休了也能夠看顧孫兒,為子女孫兒提供咨詢意見,亦最有效地使用了女性們的互助作用,姨嬸們之間可以互相看管孩子,不需要老是一對一而可以一對幾,有效多了,也可以合作照顧老人,不需要一對一而可以幾對一。這樣不但孩子得到更好更多元的成人互動,而且女性也可以更好地參與社會經濟工作,尤其是隨著信息科技的發展和在家裡工作的越來越普及。隨著科技的進展,多代大家庭將會對人們越來越具吸引力。

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.

:為甚麼只說大家庭對女性的好處,好像是只有女性才從事家庭事務,才看管子女、照顧老人。男性不參與嗎?

長者:呵呵呵,問得好!男性當然也應該參與家庭事務、看管子女、照顧老人,但是,男性很多時總是參與不夠、參與不好,例如清理房屋他們老是覺得已經清理好了,坐下休閒了,但女性一走進來就覺得房屋還是一塌糊塗,非常糟。很多時這是基於性別生理上的不同。所以,前幾年《經濟學人》雜誌就刊登了一張漫畫:一個流著汗喘著氣的女人,一手提著公事包、一手牽著孩子、背起喜悅地揮動自己公事包的丈夫,在斜坡上向上走。這就是核子家庭的縮影:受苦的主要還是婦女。當然,隨著婦女的受苦,丈夫和子女也都受苦。而多代大家庭解放、幫助的主要對象,多代大家庭的主要得益者,就正是婦女。

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,子女將會沒有脫離父母的獨立性了,子女們希望獨立,擁有自己的生活,建設自己的家,但這樣就仍然要跟父母一同居住。而且,將會沒有私隱了,父母將會對結了婚的子女們甚麼事情都要知道,都要插手!

長者:啊,但大家庭里,子女們仍然擁有自己的生活和家,並不是一定要居住在核子家庭里才能擁有自己的生活和自己的家。不同的是,子女們所建設的將會是一個公共的生活、公共的家,而不是孤立的、寂寞的、充滿驚恐的、不獲支持的核子生活、核子家庭。而且,在公眾範圍裡面他們仍然會擁有自己的私人範圍,在聯繫起來的房屋組裡面他們會有自己的單位。

至於父母將會對結了婚的子女們甚麼事情都要知道,都要插手,首先,這種情況的發生將會被一件事妨礙:父母太忙了,不但忙於自己生活,也忙於孫子。第二,最理想的是每對夫婦都有獨立的、具備廚房等設施的單位,只是跟其他單位聯繫起來,共有共同的大家庭生活地方,共同的大廚房、共同的孩子遊玩場地、甚至共同的圖書館、運動場所、等等。這樣就有很多私隱空間,第三,除了配偶之外,是應該跟其他成人共同生活一點的。日夜都只面對著同一個年歲差不多的異性成人,將會使你對他失去興趣,覺得他惹人煩悶。他最小的缺陷會變為放大,你會只看到缺陷;當兩個人被逼在大多數工余時間內只能跟對方作為成人之間的相處,很容易互相比較不禮貌、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.

:多代大家庭的成員互相合作,互相幫助,不過是一廂情願吧?就算沒有巴金的逼婚和對長輩的絕對服從,幾對夫婦住在一起,不就是勾心鬥角嗎?

長者:並不是一廂情願,幾對夫婦住在一起,並不一定就是勾心鬥角。這是流行文化對多代大家庭的抹黑,把它描述為醜惡的、壓迫婦女的、互相暗算的。其實,就是零和思想和藐視中國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.

:不單是流行文化這樣說大家庭啊,連明朝的《紅樓夢》也是這樣說大家庭啊,不是嗎?

長者:不是。《紅樓夢》說的多代大家庭,的確是黑暗,但那是大富豪官員的多代大家庭啊,並不是普通人的多代大家庭。而大富豪官員的財富,來自甚麼?就是來自貪污!所以他們是不乾淨的,不能因為當時這種佔極少數的大家庭不乾淨,就說為所有當時的大家庭都不乾淨。

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嗎?人不總是有自私之心嗎?姨嬸看顧侄子,不總是會偏心自己子女,因而總是會跟其他姨嬸引起爭執嗎?女人不是比較感情用事的嗎?能夠那麼理性嗎?而且,無論是誰,都必定有些時候會意見不一致的,那時怎麼辦?吵起來不便是破壞感情,甚至變為敵對仇視嗎?不是“相見好,同住難”嗎?

長者:當然有希望,因為這是基於互助、交換、雙贏的,尤其是為了真正解放婦女、讓她們生活幸福快樂的,而不是好像電視片那樣,總是描述甚麼為了爭奪家產就零和地明爭暗鬥個你死我活的。而且,世界現在進步了,人類溝通方法和科技比以前好得多了,只要有願望的話,就不那麼容易誤會了,溝通就會很好,充分對話很容易。充分合作,及時互相反映期望及任何差別,討論改良措施,都容易得多了。當然,要社會普遍地這樣,現在很大部分流行文化推行的零和思維、以欺壓代替對話的思維、和犬儒懷疑他人動機的思維,都需要輿論、文化、和教育工作者大力批判。雙贏思維、對話合作思維、和誠信尊重他人品德的思維,都需要大力宣揚。虛構小說、文學等需要塑造具這種思維的人物和描述他們的高尚行為。我對此並不擔心,人類非常有理性,隨著信息科技的發展,人們一定會這樣做,品德變為越來越高尚,行為越來越有利於互助互利和共贏。“相見好,同住難”是藐視人們品格和溝通能力的、悲觀的、不符合實際的錯誤思想。

至於自私之心,“自私”並不是壞事:正是因為期望自己狀況更好,所以便會通過互助互利和共贏的方法來可持續地使自己狀況越來越好。問題是愚昧無知的“自私”,企圖通過損人的方式來利己,結果是損人不利己,就算是一時偶然利了己,都是不能持續的,因為人類的基本規律就是互相交換、互相幫助。只有這樣才能持續地得到利益,與此背道而馳就只會最終得不到利益,損害自己。所以,只要明智,“自私”並不是壞事。

至於姨嬸看顧侄子可能會偏心自己子女的,因而可能會跟其他姨嬸引起爭執的,這是絕對可以通過溝通對話合作而解決的。母親們也絕對可以輪流看顧大家的孩子嘛。當然,以上說的對男人,即對叔伯舅們,也適合。而且,所謂的偏心很多時不過是父母過於緊張所臆想出來的。父母們應該放鬆一點了,孩子健康的成長,並不在於保持他們於溫室的虛構環境之中,讓他們永遠是群體中“最優秀”的、“做領袖”的。其實,這種做法很多時對孩子是不健康的壓力,有時會長大變為只顧自己的混蛋。

至於女人比較感情用事、比較不理性,這個我不能認同。選偶求偶期間很多時女性比較理性,而男性則只是感情用事。男女都有個別人比較感情用事、比較不理性。這個情況很多時跟心態健康有關係,問題主要是抑鬱症和焦慮症。這兩種心態健康的缺陷,很多時使到患者誤會別人的動機、暴懆、憤怒,說出或做出不理智甚至是殘暴的說話或事情。但是,現代醫療對此可以提供有效的藥物治療,也正在逐步完善思維治療法和輔導治療法,人們不需要被這些心態症狀無終止地折磨了。而且,這些心態症狀多數是自小多年來使用零和思維、以欺壓代替對話的思維、和犬儒懷疑他人動機的思維所造成的;隨著科技進步和大家庭的普及所必然帶來的人們思維和品德的進步,這些症狀將會變為罕見,人們將會越來越道德,亦越來越快樂。

至於意見不一致怎麼辦,幾對夫婦就一定要保持雙贏互利的、合作性的、理性的對話,盡量溝通妥協。老一輩的父母對保護這種對話和保護盡量溝通妥協的精神負有重大的責任,不能放任子女媳婿反目吵罵。必要時老一輩的父母可以投決定性的一票。如果老一輩的父母不在,那麼應該讓多數和做大哥、大姐的作決定。如果老一輩的父母不在,分歧又很嚴重,那麼不同意的一方可以“分家”,脫離大家庭,創立自己的大家庭。但儘管這樣都仍然應該保持理性的對話,分家後仍然大家合作,不能變為敵視或仇恨。

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,年輕人和壯年人尚且可以期待他們有理性和能夠妥協,但是老人呢?老人思想過時、理念僵化,但仍然又頑固又要求家人尊敬服從,怎能與其天天共處呢?

長者:且慢,且慢,尊敬不等於服從。尊敬是集中注意力傾聽他們的意見,讓他們盡量說完說清,跟他們有禮貌地對話,而不是盲目服從。在孝經的“諫諍章第十五“孔子就強調,盲目服從父母並不是孝。而且,子女們長大了成人後,父母們就不應該再要求他們服從。

老人雖然可能思想過時、理念僵化,但他們的經驗是非常寶貴的,意見也是非常值得參考的。而且,不同的意見才是最有價值的,經過不同的甚至相反的理念交流,思想才會更加清楚,概念才會更加充實,決策才會更加明智。天天相處,隨時都能夠接取這個咨詢資源,不是很寶貴的嗎?

此外,幾對夫妻跟老人共住,老人可以看管孫兒,減輕子女媳婿們特別是女性們的負擔,就算需要聘請保姆老人也可以做一點監督和指導,這是非常寶貴的。而且,對老人來說,你現在幫助你的子女媳婿養育孫子,將來你老弱需要照顧時子女媳婿甚至孫子就當然會反過來照顧你,這是保證老年快樂的明智之舉啊。相反,一旦退休就逍遙自在,說一聲“我已經養育完孩子了”就不幫助下一代養育孫子,讓他們歷盡艱難,到真正老弱走不動時要求下一代照顧你就比較難了。當然,不是不應該,而是比較難一點罷了。

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,幫助他們照顧孫子,這不是掠奪老人退休後的自由和享受嗎?

長者:當然不是,作為老人,你有權不跟子女同住,跟他們同住也有自由不照顧孫子。但是,有很多老人退休後會選擇這樣做,因為會感覺這樣做很幸福,不會變為孤寂的、沒事做的、甚至是沒用的人。

此外,一個人除了有責任和義務養育子女之外,也有責任和義務幫助養育孫子,因為把他們栽培,傳遞你的個人文化,將會好像養育子女一樣,有助於人類的進步。

... 繼續



Back to Essays Page 回到論文頁 To "Dialogues-2" 到“對話二” To "dialogues-4" 到“對話四”→

 
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