Confucius (551 – 479 BCE) wasn’t just a famous Chinese thinker who wandered around speaking in mysterious aphorisms. He held down a day job as a teacher, philosopher, and politician. He was also a dad when he was 19, while you were sleeping through Philosophy 101.
In the centuries since, Confucianism has become a dominating school of Eastern thought, winning the philosophical Battle Royale that was The Hundred Schools Of Thought and going on to live on in a book called the Analects. As it turns out, his thoughts on ethics and education aren’t just applicable to fifth-century Chinese governance, but also 21st-century parenting. Here is the collected wisdom (or at least loose translations, paraphrasing, and flat-out misappropriations) of one of the greatest philosophers in history.
On Rocking Them To Sleep
“It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.”
On How To Potty Train
“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”
On “Why Do We Have To Go To School?”
“By 3 methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the bitterest.”
On Life’s Third Act
“Old age, believe me, is a good and pleasant thing. It is true you are gently shouldered off the stage, but then you are given such a comfortable front stall as spectator.”
On How Their Chores Are Preserving Democracy
“The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.”
On Not Letting Them Win On Game Night
“He who acts with a constant view to his own advantage will be much murmured against.”
On Not Knowing, Y’know?
“When you know a thing, to hold that you know it, and when you do not know a thing, to allow that you do not know it — this is knowledge.”
On One To Stash Away For Their Wedding
“Never give a sword to a man who can’t dance.”
On The New Family Motto
“A youth, when at home, should be filial, and abroad, respectful to his elders. He should be earnest and truthful. He should overflow in love to all and cultivate the friendship of the good. When he has time and opportunity, after the performance of these things, he should employ them in polite studies.”
On What LeVar Burton Keeps Saying
“You cannot open a book without learning something.”
On Getting Along With Siblings
“What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others.”