(Clearwisdom.net) "Yan's Family Rules" said that emperors and saints in ancient times made sure their young children learned piety, kindness, etiquette and righteousness from expert teachers. Ordinary people could not be the same as the imperial family, but when their children were little kids, yet old enough to know happiness and anger, they started to teach them. When they told the children to do or not do something, the children followed their guidance. After a few years, the parents would not need to use punishment. The parents had both dignity and love. The children had filial piety because of respect and fear.

But many parents in the world only know how to love their children but not how to educate them. The children's behaviors are all at their own wills. When the children do wrong parents should warn and scold them. Instead, they praise them and smile at them. When these children grow up, they will think this is the way it should be. Their arrogant behavior is established. At that time, even if the parents want to educate their children, they cannot establish filial respect even if they beat the children. The children's anger will gradually grow until they hate their parents. These children grow into immoral adults.

Confucius always said, "Habits formed in childhood are like instincts. Habits will become a person's nature." He expresses the same truth. As the proverb says, "A child's learning should start in his early childhood." It is truly important.

Shi Que always advised King Zhuang in Wei Country, "I heard that if a father really loves his children he should teach them the right way to be good people and should not let them step onto an evil path. Overbearing, luxurious, dissolute and indulgent behavior will cause them to step onto an evil path. If the children have these four kinds of habits, it is because their parents doted on them excessively."

Since ancient times, many fathers have known how to dote on their children but did not know how to educate them. When such children grew up, they hurt others and destroyed themselves. There are many examples. If the parents love their children, they should educate them and bring up them to be adults. If they love their children but finally let them walk onto an evil path, could this be considered love?

Parents who spoil their children always have said, "The children are too young. They do not know anything. Let us wait until they are older to educate them." This is like planting a seedling crooked. If we wait until the seedling grows up to prune and crop it, it will take much more effort. It is also like opening a birdcage and releasing the bird, then trying to catch it. Or releasing a horse first and then trying to chase it. Why not keep the bird and horse in the beginning?

(From Sima Guang's "Family Rules")