Today, I witnessed with disbelief and fury the following scenarios at a dinner with a mother and a little child, both of whom happen to be endeared to me.
Scenario 1: In a conversation, the referred to someone as a "weirdo". The child heard it, found it funny, grinned, and repeated the word to himself. Apparently, his mother was a little alarmed upon hearing it because she said immediately: "The fact that I've called someone a weirdo doesn't mean you can do that, too."
Scenario 2: I told the mother that the jack of the adaptor of my notebook computer was not working and asked whether I could buy a replacement from her company. "No need," she said. "I'll tell the supplier that one of their adaptors has not come with the jack and they'll give me one for free." This was said in a most matter-of-factly way in her child's presence.
I am sure that this mother, who dearly loves her child, would like him to grow up as someone of integrity, but what she probably did not realise was that it was a sort of disastrous education the way she used that double standard in the first scenario and lied so blatantly in the second. These are classic examples of the hypocrisy that is inherent in the Chinese culture. "Don't do what I do. Do what I say." This is what parents often tell their children and would like to see happen. But which is the more powerful form of education - the word or the action? Whether it is that these parents cannot see that this kind of wishful thinking will never work or that they simply do not care, this is something that I find very hard to accept and believe.