- Family and Parenting
Can You Replace Your Son's Head On His Shoulders
It is OK that Your Children Lose the Earrings as Long as They Keep Their Heads
There is a Buddhist parable about the man who had given his son a pair of expensive gold earrings. His son was very proud of the earrings and had them on day and night. After a few months, the joints of the earrings got stuck and the earrings could not come off any more. One day, the man and his son were traveling through the forest to a distant land. When they got to a deserted place in the forest, they could hear a gang of bandits coming close to them. The man’s son begged him to help protect his earrings from the bandits. He tried to grab the earrings. He plucked his son’s ears hard and those ears started bleeding. But the earrings still wouldn’t come off. In the heat of his desperate attempt, he got hold of an axe and chopped off his son’s head. He was able to hide himself, together with the dismembered head, by staying low in the bushes. When the bandits were gone, he realized what a foolish thing he had done. He tried to replace the dismembered head on his son’s shoulders. Needless to say, the effort was futile. The parable made me break out in a cold sweat, as I was equally guilty, if not more. My wife and I, as parents, have been diligent in protecting our children. Often, we are too diligent. My daughter, aged ten, is still having trouble with tying her shoe-laces even though she has won a few academic awards and writing contests at school. Why is that? Every day, we would see her walking about with loose shoe-laces. We would imagine her tripping over and hurting herself. Without thinking twice, we’d tell her how clumsy she is and re-do those shoe-laces again. We are also worried that the adult contents on the internet, or adults imposing as children in chat rooms, might harm our teenage boys. So we have the children’s computers installed in a room where the door is always open and the monitors are always in view. We would patrol back and forth every now and then, pretending we are getting a drink from the kitchen. They would try to out-wit us by pointing browsers to web-sites where they are not supposed to go. They would close the browsers when they hear their guards’ footsteps returning. We are worried stiff that they would fail their tests and exams and feel depressed with poor results. We are afraid that poor grades will lead to poor future openings. We help them organize their study time tables to make sure they would not do too badly. And the end result? We find the children waiting to be told before they would start doing anything. They are uncertain of themselves. They are afraid of failures as they have not had the chance to see many of these. We have chopped their heads off to protect their earrings. We are having problem screwing the heads back onto their shoulders. It has been hard work, much harder than chopping the heads off. Nonetheless, we know we would somehow do it, whatever it takes. For those parents reading this, you might just be plucking the earrings at this stage. You’d better stop now before you’d take out your axes. I can tell you that it is so easy to chop off heads to protect earrings. I know as I’ve been there and done that. Like the man in the Buddhist parable, I did not think twice either. Let your children lose their earrings. They will find new ones, even though you might be the one paying for the new ones.