Raising children to be successful 培养孩子成材

How can we raise our children to be successful when they grow up?


Parents nowadays know only to ask that their children be diligent at school work and extracurricular arts and skills, thinking that if they learn well they will be successful in life. Parents don’t make any other demands on children at all, thinking that time that children could otherwise have spent on “learning” will be “wasted”. Of course, to be a responsible child, he must be diligent at school work and the extracurricular activities his parents enroll him in. The responsibility that he shoulders there, however, is only responsibility to be good to himself. That is not enough. To raise a child into a successful person, the most important thing is to let him learn how to shoulder responsibility for serving others and being good to others. If a person doesn’t know how to serve others and be good to others, no matter how outstanding he has been at his school work and extracurricular arts and skills when young, he will not be successful either in career or in family life. Of course, shouldering responsibility for serving others and being good to others should begin at home. Therefore, for a child to become a successful person, he must be required to help the family.


From the earliest age on a child must help with home chores and help keep the house clean. Even if there are servants in the house, he must not carelessly throw things around or set things down just anywhere. He must carefully put away his clothes and his things, and pick up after himself. If a child has younger siblings then he has lots of opportunity to shoulder responsibility for being good to others: a child must help parents look after his younger siblings. Even when there are servants looking after the physical needs of the younger siblings, he must help parents look after the mental and learning needs of the siblings. When a child grows older he must help with the family livelihood - how? Whether his parents are employees or business owners, he must help make his parents’ job and going to work easier, more convenient, even if it’s with small details, such as Huang Xiang of old who warmed his father’s bed in winter and cooled the bed in summer. Also, parents must let the child know the situation at work or in the business, so that he may think of ways, even if they concern only small details, to make the family’s livelihood even better. Therefore, whether rich or poor, parents can always make a child shoulder responsibility for being good to others.


Raising a child to be a responsible and useful person by having him help the family is worth having the grades go down a point or two. Actually, I think that by shouldering responsibility to help the family, a child will inevitably learn self-discipline and the ability to independently manage time, and so school work and extracurricular arts and skills will be learnt even better, not worse. Time spent on helping the family will have no negative impact, only a positive one.


Of course, when the child helps the family, the parents must give recognition and praise. Also, when there are younger siblings, the parents must strictly demand that the younger siblings respect and obey the older siblings.


This way, the child will have self-respect - after all, he is a very useful person! Knowing how to shoulder responsibility, serving others and being good to others, he will possess what in traditional China is known as “xiao” or being good to parents, and what in the West is very important whether in admission to elite colleges or promotion at work and is known as “leadership skills”. In traditional China, character and conduct has always been considered more important than academics, as in the saying “after achieving right conduct, then if there’s energy left over one may use it to study books”. Nowadays in the West “emotional quotient” or “E.Q.” is considered more important than intelligence quotient or I.Q. It’s quite clear to me that to raise children to grow up to be successful people, one must not only look at school work and extracurricular arts and skills but also must require children to help the family.

这样,孩子便有自尊心,他毕竟是个很有用的人啊!他懂得怎样负起责任,他懂得怎样为他人服务,对他人好,他便拥有传统中国所谓的“孝”和西方无论高校录取或企业升职都重视的所谓“领导技能”(leardership skills)。传统中国一向都是认为品行比读书重要,所谓“行有余力则以学文”,而现在西方则认为“情商”(E.Q.)比智商(I.Q.)重要;培养孩子成材不能只看到学业和课余才艺,也要要求孩子帮助家庭这个道理,对我来说,是很明显的。

Feng Xin-ming 冯欣明

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