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Will remembering parents' birthdays foster filial piety?

China Daily | Updated: 2016-11-10 07:47

Will remembering parents' birthdays foster filial piety?

An elderly woman walks in a residential community in Beijing. [Photo/IC]

IN ITS DRAFT VERSION of the Primary and Secondary Students Behavior Code, the educational authority in East China's Zhejiang province has included the requirement that students remember their parents' birthday and express their respects to them. Southern Metropolis Daily commented on Wednesday:

According to the draft code, the reason for adding the new item is because filial piety is a key part of traditional Chinese culture, but children need to be taught how to honor their parents, which begins with remembering their birthdays.

It seems to be a response to media reports that half of the surveyed middle school students didn't remember their parents' birthdays.

However, does requiring remembrance of their parents' birthdays help foster the spirit of traditional piety among children? Compared to the idea of making students celebrate their parents' birthdays, the education authority would do better to try and foster close and trusting relationships between students and their parents, because it is far more important.

Maybe it is easy for students to understand and practise remembering their parents' birthdays and it can also be a start to learning and practising the traditional moral code. But the problem is how to nurture children's obedience and filial piety when it is not their parents' birthdays, especially when the drafters of the students' code don't even know how to do it.

If a student forgets or is unable to honor one of his or her parents on their birthday, does it mean the student doesn't love the parents? So the concept of piety should not be narrowed down to regulated practise.

Instead of making the traditional morality so far-fetched, the education authority in Zhejiang should be more in touch with the times.

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