Buddhism and Parenting Thread

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Buddhism and Parenting Thread

Postby dsaly1969 » Sat Nov 03, 2012 10:22 pm

Queequeg wrote:dsaly,

My bad. Thank you for the clarification and I misread the context of your post.

I am about to have my first and one of my concerns is how to open the Buddhadharma to him over the next few decades. I am very curious - how do your children react to the discussions? How does the subject come up? Do you incorporate it when talking to them? Do they identify as Buddhist? Is it something they internalize? Do you have a regular community that you attend?

Sorry for so many questions. I apologize if I am prying too much. I probably have a million more. I think I am getting into the angst ridden new parent phase and can't help it. :smile:


Congratulations!!!

My kids are 12 and 14. Until this year when they were successfully transitioned to public school, they were homeschooled (this was to meet academic needs) so they were used to frank and open discussions which we regularly schedule (just like we scheduled math and history lessons). The first task is using age appropriate materials to teach Buddhadharma principles. The good news is that most Buddhist materials for kids focus on the core teachings so it is easy to build knowledge up to your specific school from there. We live in a rural area and not near a regular Buddhist community, but my parents and in-laws live down in the Los Angeles area so I do take them temple-hopping to a variety of traditions (Hsi Lai is one of our favorites). My kids identify as Buddhist although we live in a very conservative and judgemental environment so we are kind of "in the closet" in our local community. I do try to let the kids explore various aspects of Buddhadharma in accordance with their temperaments and interests even if those are not specifically my own. For example, I often tend to gravitate more towards Japanese traditions and am less strict in my practice but my daughter has ALWAYS been a vegetarian (would not even eat baby food meat) and tends to prefer the Chinese and Taiwanese Buddhist schools style of practice with stricter adherence to the Five Precepts.
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Re: Four Noble Truths in Nichiren Buddhism?

Postby Queequeg » Thu Nov 08, 2012 6:30 pm

dsaly1969 wrote:Congratulations!!!

My kids are 12 and 14. Until this year when they were successfully transitioned to public school, they were homeschooled (this was to meet academic needs) so they were used to frank and open discussions which we regularly schedule (just like we scheduled math and history lessons). The first task is using age appropriate materials to teach Buddhadharma principles. The good news is that most Buddhist materials for kids focus on the core teachings so it is easy to build knowledge up to your specific school from there. We live in a rural area and not near a regular Buddhist community, but my parents and in-laws live down in the Los Angeles area so I do take them temple-hopping to a variety of traditions (Hsi Lai is one of our favorites). My kids identify as Buddhist although we live in a very conservative and judgemental environment so we are kind of "in the closet" in our local community. I do try to let the kids explore various aspects of Buddhadharma in accordance with their temperaments and interests even if those are not specifically my own. For example, I often tend to gravitate more towards Japanese traditions and am less strict in my practice but my daughter has ALWAYS been a vegetarian (would not even eat baby food meat) and tends to prefer the Chinese and Taiwanese Buddhist schools style of practice with stricter adherence to the Five Precepts.


Thank you! Getting more excited by the day.

And thanks for sharing your experience with your kids. Child rearing and passing on Buddhist learning to one's children seems like a unique aspect of Buddhist practice in the West that I imagine has particular concerns - being "in the closet" so to speak being one thing that is probably pretty common, aside from all the other stuff like being a religious minority in a judeo-christian society. Etc.

:)
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Re: Four Noble Truths in Nichiren Buddhism?

Postby Jikan » Thu Nov 08, 2012 7:11 pm

The issue of parenting is significant and does not get the kind of attention it deserves in my opinion (speaking as someone who would like to foster parent & adopt in the near future). So I'm moving these posts to a new thread in order to initiate a broader discussion.
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Re: Buddhism and Parenting Thread

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Thu Nov 08, 2012 7:29 pm

Got two, 3 yrs and 5 mos.

Beyond just contemplating how to introduce them to the Dharma, my wife is also an observant Jew, so I have to think about navigating some interesting territory..

Any other parents whose partner has a different belief system?
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Buddhism and Parenting Thread

Postby PorkChop » Thu Nov 08, 2012 8:53 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:Got two, 3 yrs and 5 mos.
Beyond just contemplating how to introduce them to the Dharma, my wife is also an observant Jew, so I have to think about navigating some interesting territory..
Any other parents whose partner has a different belief system?


Very similar here - 3 year old and another due in March, wife's Christian.
Mentioned this on another thread, so sorry to repeat:
An older, wiser friend told me a long time ago to let the mom handle matters of faith; so my kids will be raised Christian.
I'll try to give them advice for dealing with different situations from a Dharma-based perspective and if they show any interest in learning when they're older, I'll help them any way I can.
My 3 year old is one of my best teachers.
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Re: Buddhism and Parenting Thread

Postby Zenda » Fri Nov 09, 2012 3:49 am

My son is 10; my husband is an observant liberal Christian and I'm a Buddhist. My son attends church and Sunday school and I have an open door policy with my practice and take him to Buddhist events when appropriate.
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Re: Buddhism and Parenting Thread

Postby greentara » Fri Nov 09, 2012 7:44 am

My kids attended Yoga classes when they were little and their teacher was creative and told them amazing stories, they did simple breathing excersises and enjoyed going and I didn't need to coax them as they were ready and willing to go to classes. I took them to Buddhist events when appropriate but the lectures for children were abit stiff and moralistic and I think my kids were bored.
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Re: Buddhism and Parenting Thread

Postby Dave The Seeker » Fri Nov 09, 2012 1:15 pm

Being a recovering alcoholic, 25 years of hard drinking, I missed out on raising my kids. Buddhism found me weeks after my sobering up.
Ones 16 the other is 20. The only thing I can do now at this time is to be an example of how to live life benefiting others and not harming them.
In all my daily actions I try to remain mindful of my actions, thoughts and my speech.
They know I practice Buddhism and hopefully they will at least see the positive changes it has made in me and explore the path that has done this. I never push what I do onto others, I live my life the best I can and hope it benefits all living beings.

:namaste:
Everyday problems teach us to have a realistic attitude.
They teach us that life is what life is; flawed.
Yet with tremendous potential for joy and fulfillment.
~Lama Surya Das~

If your path teaches you to act and exert yourself correctly and leads to spiritual realizations such as love, compassion and wisdom then obviously it's worthwhile.
~Lama Thubten Yeshe~

One whose mind is freed does not argue with anyone, he does not dispute with anyone. He makes use of the conventional terms of the world without clinging to them
~The Buddha~
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Re: Buddhism and Parenting Thread

Postby Queequeg » Sat Nov 10, 2012 6:30 pm

Thank you all for posting. This is a subject I've thought about for a long time, but has become more immediate as my son is scheduled to be evicted by my wife in about 3 months. :)

I was raised in a Buddhist community in the US and spent summers in Japan where my grandmother took us on pilgrimages. While both my wife and I have enduring connections to Japan - me familial as well as professional, and my wife as a Japanese art historian - my children probably will not have as close a connection to Japan and the Buddhist culture there as I did growing up. I have also disengaged with the Buddhist community here that I grew up in, leaving me more or less without a broader community - at least one of a sufficient size to comprise a "culture" - the few people I associate with as Buddhists off-line are not enough to be anything more than an idiosyncratic bunch. Compound this with my wife not being Buddhist - she is secular Jewish - I am concerned that my son will see Buddhism as nothing more than some weird thing Dad does.

I guess one major concern I have is how I can impress on my son Buddhism as a norm. I guess my view on this is based on my own experience growing up - even though being Buddhist made me a minority of one for the most part in school and other environments, I also had a broader community ever since I can remember that also gave me the experience of Buddhism as a normative mode of being. This has caused me to consider joining a sangha, even as I do not agree with their teachings or practices, for the sake of exposing my children to Buddhist culture.

I have time to work on this yet, but I will have to begin taking action on this soon.

If others can share further details about their experience - what has worked, what has not worked - I would be interested to hear.

Thanks.
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Re: Buddhism and Parenting Thread

Postby Queequeg » Sat Nov 10, 2012 6:38 pm

greentara wrote:My kids attended Yoga classes when they were little and their teacher was creative and told them amazing stories, they did simple breathing excersises and enjoyed going and I didn't need to coax them as they were ready and willing to go to classes. I took them to Buddhist events when appropriate but the lectures for children were abit stiff and moralistic and I think my kids were bored.


I think being creative in the presentation is probably one of the most critical factors. At this point I'm just going on my foggy memories of being a kid. I don't know how a 10 year old relates to something like the 4 Noble Truths, though. Ideally, I would think a 10 year old should not have enough negative experiences in life to understand the truth of Dukkha. On the other hand, we have innate ideas about fairness, impulses to sympathy/empathy, kindness, love, etc. Maybe those would be the subjects to take up first.

The Jataka tales, especially the ones focused on the Buddha's previous births as an animal might be a way to present moral norms and give an interesting context to stimulate discussion with children.
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Re: Buddhism and Parenting Thread

Postby Seishin » Sat Nov 10, 2012 7:45 pm

My daughter is still a baby so I haven't actually taught her Buddhism, though she often plays with my prayer beads when I'm careless enough not to put them out of her reach, and she often goes to my butsudan to hit the bell and mokugyo! :tongue:
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Re: Buddhism and Parenting Thread

Postby Queequeg » Sat Nov 10, 2012 8:14 pm

Seishin wrote:My daughter is still a baby so I haven't actually taught her Buddhism, though she often plays with my prayer beads when I'm careless enough not to put them out of her reach, and she often goes to my butsudan to hit the bell and mokugyo! :tongue:


Congratulations! :)

I remember having lots of fun with the bell on my parent's Butsudan... and the candles and incense... ruining beads... making a mess... to their credit, they never got angry at me for it. Just cleaned up after me. Luckily I never burned the house down.
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Re: Buddhism and Parenting Thread

Postby Seishin » Sat Nov 10, 2012 9:17 pm

Thank you :smile:
I replaced my candles with electric ones before she was born. No lighters in our house either, just a gas stove. It is incredibly cute though when she kneels infront of the butsudan and starts hitting things. :tongue:
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Re: Buddhism and Parenting Thread

Postby Zenda » Sun Nov 11, 2012 3:24 am

I try to just be a good example and express Buddhist values, such as harmlessness and compassion, as much as possible. (I'm definitely not a perfect practitioner.) My experience is that it's difficult to make my son do anything that he isn't truly interested in, but if I make something available and show him how important it is to me, he will pay attention to it and will at least respect it. He's very young though. Who knows what will happen when he's a teen! (Oy... ) I guess, ultimately, I believe that he needs to decide for himself which path he choses... Christian, Buddhist, or whatever.

And you're right, a 10 year old definitely understands suffering... and also thirsting for things (which I suppose are one and the same). The other thing I've noticed is that my son is much more flexible with his concepts than I am. He is not scared by the idea of everything changing or death or even emptiness (as he understands it now). That sense of wonder and openness is awesome in kids... They haven't learned yet to be rigid in their thinking.
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Re: Buddhism and Parenting Thread

Postby Red Faced Buddha » Mon Nov 12, 2012 9:39 pm

I am a Zen Buddhist and have five children.The youngest is eight,and the oldest two(who are twins)are 14.When I first converted to Buddhism,my wife disproved(I was an atheist before and didn't care what religion my kids were so my wife didn't mind that much.)we pretty much had a big fight and got in a "holy war."
My wife took them to church,I taught them Buddhism at home(where I live there are no Buddhist temples around.)finally,I realized that both of us were being selfish and we needed to compromise.The children learned both and are allowed to choose for themselves.My eldest son calls himself a "Pure Land Christian" and believes Amitabha Buddha and the Christian God are the same.My eight year old girl wants to found a Buddhist temple in the city where I live when she gets older.However,two of my other children pretty much reject Buddhism completely but I don't mind.However,there are a still few religious debates in the house,though mostly it's the kids,my wife and I have had enough of religious debating. :cheers:
A person once asked me why I would want to stop rebirth. "It sounds pretty cool. Being able to come back. Who wouldn't want to be reborn."
I replied. "Wanting to be reborn is like wanting to stay in a jail cell, when you have the chance to go free and experience the whole wide world. Does a convict, on being freed from his shabby, constricting, little cell, suddenly say "I really want to go back to jail and be put in a cell. It sounds pretty cool. Being able to come back. Who wouldn't want that?"
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Re: Buddhism and Parenting Thread

Postby Ayu » Thu Nov 15, 2012 9:11 am

I have three sons, 26, 15 and 12 years old.
The father of my eldest son and also my husband now, father of the two younger boys, are atheist.
I do meditation since 32 years, but became buddhist first in 2008. So all my life i live together with an atheist and do my meditation on my own.
My teacher is from Tibet.

I let my people free to choose their own conviction. I try my best to be a good example. And in tense situations i can incorporate the dharmic view. It was quiet a peace of work to teach the children what is stealing and how not to lie. Difficult in many situations.
But how to feel compassion was very, very easy to teach. Just had to tell "Imagine, you were this tiny ant, and a big foot from a child would come to you." My sons are able to emphathize, they can not distress anybody or laugh at other peoples suffering. But i think, none of them will become buddhist. They stick to their fathers.

The 15 year old boy says my Tibetean meditation stuff is "cool" :thumbsup: , but to meditate, even two minutes, he finds "terribly boring". I think it would be counterproducive to insist. Better they learn Buddhism is something nice.

Maybe they think Buddhism and meditation are girls-stuff.
Because, if our mothers, who have been kind to us
From beginningless time, are suffering,
What can we do with (just) our own happiness?
From 10th of 37 Bodhisattva Practices
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Re: Buddhism and Parenting Thread

Postby Jikan » Thu Nov 15, 2012 4:18 pm

I once asked a teacher about teaching young people and parenting (this was many years ago). This is relevant to the "girls stuff" problem that Ayu brought up. The teacher said that what kids really need is not meditation so much as ethics. Kids have a sharp sense of fair and unfair, right and wrong. This is true of boys and girls. I'd like to know what parents think of putting the emphasis on ethics when working with kids?
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Re: Buddhism and Parenting Thread

Postby PorkChop » Thu Nov 15, 2012 4:38 pm

Jikan wrote:I once asked a teacher about teaching young people and parenting (this was many years ago). This is relevant to the "girls stuff" problem that Ayu brought up. The teacher said that what kids really need is not meditation so much as ethics. Kids have a sharp sense of fair and unfair, right and wrong. This is true of boys and girls. I'd like to know what parents think of putting the emphasis on ethics when working with kids?


I agree with this 100%.
Kinda reminds me of the approach Daniel Goleman's using with Emotional Intelligence, in order to introduce Buddhist ethics into the business world.
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Re: Buddhism and Parenting Thread

Postby Seishin » Thu Nov 15, 2012 4:44 pm

I think a form of meditation would be very beneficial, but not necessarily "Buddhist" meditation. And it needn't be for long either. I guess we'll see when my daughter grows and learn by trial and error. After all, all kids are different and they don't come with manuals :tongue:
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Re: Buddhism and Parenting Thread

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Thu Nov 15, 2012 6:48 pm

Not sure it's working, but I try to approach ethics in this way to my three year old daughter. She's very precocious (yeah I know all parents say that) with language and concepts, so maybe some seeps through. I try to get her to follow the course of her actions a bit:

You pee on your bed purposefully
Dad gets annoyed, has to spend time cleaning your pee, and hosing you down
As result, there is no time to play with blocks, or whatever activity.

What I hope is that after a few years maybe she will start to view her own actions as something that have real chains of consequence, even if the only consequence she can really understand right now is consequences to her.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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