Help me with a difficult family conversation.

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Johnny Dangerous
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Help me with a difficult family conversation.

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Tue Jun 19, 2018 3:08 am

So, I grew up fishing with my Dad, trips at least once a month, much more during the summer etc. Point is, fishing was a part of how I grew up.

Since getting serious with Dharma a number of years ago, I have decided I don't want to fish again, and decided that I don't want to condition my kids into the behavior either. I will not try to stop them when they are older, but at their young ages (6 and 8) I don't want them doing it. Once they are a bit older they can make their own ethical decisions on things like hunting and fishing, and I will respect whatever decisions they make.

My Dad is a great person, one of my favorite people in the world, however he is an atheist and really (I think) doesn't think much of any religion, including Buddhism. He is visiting soon, which will be fantastic, but he mentioned taking the kids fishing. I'm ashamed to say I was unable to even to bring it up at the time, us having so many bonding moments as a kid over fishing, I do not even know how to explain my feelings to him. He is largely ignorant of Buddhism, and if he did know much about it he would likely think it was nonsense anyway. Not a judgment, he's an intelligent and wise person, who just has come to some different conclusions about life than I have.

Has anyone ever had to have this conversation? My Dad is an solid, decent person, I don't expect he will do anything mean or take offense necessarily, but I have some fear of insulting him by making this request. If anyone has had conversations such as these successfully, let me know how you did it!
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Virgo
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Re: Help me with a difficult family conversation.

Post by Virgo » Tue Jun 19, 2018 3:35 am

I am probably going to catch some heat for this but I would let him take them fishing. It sounds like they don't see Grandpa too much and it sounds like this will be a special occasion for him and for them.

This doesn't sound like an occasion that is going to happen very often. If it were, I would be against it (and would have the appropriate talk).

If the kids take up an interest in the fishing itself and want you to take them after your Dad leaves then I would have the "Daddy doesn't catch fish because..." talk with them at that point, and tell them once or twice with Grandpa is alright, but it is better if you don't otherwise (at least until they are older etc).

I am also lucky like your kids are that I had a Dad growing up who practiced non-harm (and still does). My father will take bugs out of the house, etc., rather than killing them.

My brother used to fish in the creek all the time (trout) when we were growing up (summers in the Catskills), but I caught my first fish and I knew it wasn't for me when the thing was flopping all around, clearly scared and in pain, and I had to take the hook out of it. I can see why you don't want them to learn it.

If he wants to make a habit out of it, I would have the appropriate talk like I said, because then it might also become a habit for them.

Hey man, Dad's rule.

Kevin...

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Re: Help me with a difficult family conversation.

Post by Rinchen Samphel » Tue Jun 19, 2018 3:55 am

I pretty much agree with Kevin.

These situations can be, as you know, difficult in life because we dont want to push our beliefs on others, or make them feel limited by our perpective.

I think what will be interesting is how your children react.
My dad took me fishing once when i was around 10 or 11. When i caught my first fish, i pulled it out of the water and the hook was threw its mouth and exiting threw the center of its eye. I freaked out. I realized i wouldnt be able to get the hook out without damaging the fish more. I never went fishing again.

So, who knows what will actually happen? Maybe your kids will realize what they are doing, or maybe they will have a great day with Grandpa. Either way, i dont think their future will go down the conceptual tunnel you may be envisioning because of a fishing trip with good ol' paw paw. Who knows, maybe the quiet environment, the still waters, and the sky above will open their minds.

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Re: Help me with a difficult family conversation.

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Tue Jun 19, 2018 4:02 am

Rinchen Samphel wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 3:55 am
I pretty much agree with Kevin.

These situations can be, as you know, difficult in life because we dont want to push our beliefs on others, or make them feel limited by our perpective.

I think what will be interesting is how your children react.
My dad took me fishing once when i was around 10 or 11. When i caught my first fish, i pulled it out of the water and the hook was threw its mouth and exiting threw the center of its eye. I freaked out. I realized i wouldnt be able to get the hook out without damaging the fish more. I never went fishing again.

So, who knows what will actually happen? Maybe your kids will realize what they are doing, or maybe they will have a great day with Grandpa. Either way, i dont think their future will go down the conceptual tunnel you may be envisioning because of a fishing trip with good ol' paw paw. Who knows, maybe the quiet environment, the still waters, and the sky above will open their minds.

We've raised our kids to not kill things, we put bugs outside rather than killing them etc. Sometimes we let them be. We aren't romantic about it, but the expectation is there. If there's a wasp's nest or something, this is different and sometimes one must do what one must. This is part of the reason that I feel this conversation might be necessary, I think at the very least my kids would be react weirdly to being asked to fish, because they grew up with the rule "you don't kill things for your enjoyment".
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Re: Help me with a difficult family conversation.

Post by Virgo » Tue Jun 19, 2018 4:06 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 4:02 am



We've raised our kids to not kill things, we put bugs outside rather than killing them etc. Sometimes we let them be. We aren't romantic about it, but the expectation is there. If there's a wasp's nest or something, this is different and sometimes one must do what one must. This is part of the reason that I feel this conversation might be necessary, I think at the very least my kids would be react weirdly to being asked to fish, because they grew up with the rule "we don't kill things for our enjoyment".
In that case just tell him. "I'd rather if you don't take them fishing because we try to raise them in such away to instill Buddhist values in them. For example, we don't have them kill bugs or anything." Just tell him that. That's all.

Kevin...

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Re: Help me with a difficult family conversation.

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Tue Jun 19, 2018 4:08 am

Virgo wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 4:06 am
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 4:02 am



We've raised our kids to not kill things, we put bugs outside rather than killing them etc. Sometimes we let them be. We aren't romantic about it, but the expectation is there. If there's a wasp's nest or something, this is different and sometimes one must do what one must. This is part of the reason that I feel this conversation might be necessary, I think at the very least my kids would be react weirdly to being asked to fish, because they grew up with the rule "we don't kill things for our enjoyment".
In that case just tell him. "I'd rather if you don't take them fishing because we try to raise them in such away to instill Buddhist values in them. For example, we don't have them kill bugs or anything." Just tell him that. That's all.

Kevin...
Yeah, I may have to do it like this....ugh lol.
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Re: Help me with a difficult family conversation.

Post by Virgo » Tue Jun 19, 2018 4:10 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 4:08 am
Yeah, I may have to do it like this....ugh lol.
It's all in how you say it.

Kevin...

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Re: Help me with a difficult family conversation.

Post by amanitamusc » Tue Jun 19, 2018 4:25 am

You could all go and feed the fish.

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Re: Help me with a difficult family conversation.

Post by Kunga Lhadzom » Tue Jun 19, 2018 5:01 am

I would just be honest.
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Re: Help me with a difficult family conversation.

Post by boda » Tue Jun 19, 2018 5:15 am

Virgo wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 3:35 am
This doesn't sound like an occasion that is going to happen very often. If it were, I would be against it (and would have the appropriate talk).
I’m with Virgo, because is sounds like it would be a rare occasion, and an occasion where gramps might have a good opportunity to bond with the kids, in his manner of bonding perhaps.

Of course it’s difficult to take a position when we don’t know your father. He might brush it off with no problem and readily think of other activities to engage the kids.

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Re: Help me with a difficult family conversation.

Post by Wayfarer » Tue Jun 19, 2018 5:21 am

JD wrote:Has anyone ever had to have this conversation?
Other way around! I used to take my boys fishing when they were little, but then for exactly the same reason I had to abandon fishing when they got to about high-school age, much to their annoyance. We had many vexed conversations, one of which was, you're not vegetarian, so what does it matter? I tried to explain that it was a blood sport, i.e. you're getting enjoyment at the expense of the fish. I'm not sentimental about fish, and I really think they're far less sensitive to pain than mammals. But still - it was pretty open and shut. Last fish I ever caught was, I think, around 1997. They got over it. (Younger son still fishes sometimes, but it doesn't feature much in their lives. Although I have a great family photo of him with this massive fish he got off the beach aged about 7, whilst with an uncle whose an ace fisherman.)
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Re: Help me with a difficult family conversation.

Post by anjali » Tue Jun 19, 2018 6:23 am

I grew up in the rural south in the US. My dad was an avid outdoorsman--he loved to hunt and fish. A long time ago now, he had a slowly progressing terminal cancer. I quite my job to be with him and mom for the last few months of his life. At the time I was in my mid-20s. As the end drew near, and he was about to enter the hospital for the last time, we talked and reminisced a bit. I asked him if there was anything he wished he'd had the opportunity to do one last time. He said he would have liked to go fishing with me one more time. We hadn't fished in years, and he did ask in a casual way if I wanted to go a couple of times before the cancer limited his mobility. My heart nearly fell through the floor. I was too selfish to let the "catching fish" thing go and just spend time with my dad. To this day I still have regrets about that. In hindsight, I could have just sat with him in the boat and talked, or done catch and release.

Here is my suggestion. Talk to your children. Explain fishing to them if they don't know what it means, then ask them if they would like to spend time with grandpa that way. Express your own thoughts and feelings, both the good times you had with your dad, and why you won't be fishing with him now (sounds like they already know that). You might be surprised at the maturity of the children in coming to their own conclusions.

If you feel that is definitely not an option, and you clearly know what you want for your children, then you will need to be up front with your dad, sooner rather than later. I like amanitamusc's idea of going to feed the fish.
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Re: Help me with a difficult family conversation.

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Tue Jun 19, 2018 7:04 am

Wayfarer wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 5:21 am
JD wrote:Has anyone ever had to have this conversation?
Other way around! I used to take my boys fishing when they were little, but then for exactly the same reason I had to abandon fishing when they got to about high-school age, much to their annoyance. We had many vexed conversations, one of which was, you're not vegetarian, so what does it matter? I tried to explain that it was a blood sport, i.e. you're getting enjoyment at the expense of the fish. I'm not sentimental about fish, and I really think they're far less sensitive to pain than mammals. But still - it was pretty open and shut. Last fish I ever caught was, I think, around 1997. They got over it. (Younger son still fishes sometimes, but it doesn't feature much in their lives. Although I have a great family photo of him with this massive fish he got off the beach aged about 7, whilst with an uncle whose an ace fisherman.)
I got the "but you're not vegetarian" thing from my mother when we had this conversation with her (my step dad is an avid hunter), it seems to be a common response. Like you, my issue is more with the fact that it is an activity which involves an animal's suffering as entertainment, more than the issue of people eating the creatures. I realize some will say they get some spiritual thing out of catching/killing their own food, but to me it appears to largely be a form of recreation.

Thank you for the suggestions all, I am really leaning towards talking to my kids about how they want to handle it as per Anjalis'
suggestion. On the other hand, I think my Dad would be very understanding. Part of it is just that I have such memories and sentimental attachment to our experiences fishing together, I don't want to make him feel bad. We can just camp though, and not fish... and I think if I put it that way it will be fine.
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Re: Help me with a difficult family conversation.

Post by Ayu » Tue Jun 19, 2018 7:24 am

When I was vegetarian for 13 years, I learned to avoid these kinds of conversations.
People got upset quickly when I explained why I did not eat meat. They responded: "But you should not drink coffee then!" Or "You still eat chocolate!!!"

I learned, not to explain anything to people who would feel upset about it. I only inform people about what I do not eat/drink/do if I have to, and I try to express tolerance and respect to those other people.

Anjali's post contains a good idea. If the problem is really about the children going fishing, I think it is a good idea to discuss the matter with them in a peaceful way. Without judgements against the grandpa.
If it is mainly a problem between grandpa and you, JD, maybe the children shouldn't get involved too much.
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Re: Help me with a difficult family conversation.

Post by Simon E. » Tue Jun 19, 2018 8:13 am

What do the kids think?

What if they explained why they would rather do something else with their granddad?
Back to fishin' folks... :namaste:

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Re: Help me with a difficult family conversation.

Post by Simon E. » Tue Jun 19, 2018 9:30 am

Explain to him, I mean..
Back to fishin' folks... :namaste:

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Re: Help me with a difficult family conversation.

Post by Rick » Tue Jun 19, 2018 2:05 pm

Feed the fish ... +1

I feed tons of wild animals every day: ducks, birds, deer, squirrels, chipmunks. It's good for the soul, a relationship rather than a hunter/hunted. Catch and release is also a decent alternative, provided that hooking and reeling in a fish is not too horribly painful/traumatic for the fish.
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Re: Help me with a difficult family conversation.

Post by Queequeg » Tue Jun 19, 2018 3:40 pm

Wow. Really great question and conversation.

I still fish. I've fished most of my life, though I didn't really learn how until recently. I have eaten what I caught on occasion, but mostly catch and release. Sometimes, by the end of a fishing trip with friends, I take the hook off and just cast, drinking beer and talking. That's actually the best part of fishing to me - hanging out with something to do that isn't all consuming and slow enough that conversation can roll. The fishing is just an excuse.

I think that's why some people golf.

It sounds like while the fishing isn't appealing, the times you had with your dad was important. Is there an alternative activity in terms of time and demand (low) that could approximate that excuse to hang?
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Re: Help me with a difficult family conversation.

Post by Norwegian » Tue Jun 19, 2018 4:47 pm

I do not fish anymore. Which in itself as far as decisions goes, can be very hard to explain given the country I come from, and the long tradition for fishing in my extended family as a whole, either as a leisurely activity (for catching food) or as ones actual profession. I really did enjoy fishing, and if you look at it outside of a Buddhist lens, it is fun, in the sense that you get a great trip (usually) to somewhere wonderful out in the freshness of nature. You're immersed in all of this, and even if the main objective is fishing, there's so much more to it - the mere act of being outside and having a good time. And then of course the idea of having a rod or other fishing equipment, like a trolling line or so, being out in the ocean, dropping down the lure, and waiting and anticipating what could come next, from the depths of the sea. Then the fish bites, and it's hooked, and if it's a really big fish, then you've got a battle on your hands that you need to deal with in order to get it up. All of this - from that perspective - is exciting.

But from a Buddhist context, what you're doing is harming living sentient beings. They get a hook stuck in their mouths, you're yanking them out of their environment against their will, they struggle mightily, they're beyond stressed out, and you exhaust them to the point of where many just dies from exhaustion even if they're let go.

I've never been a fan of catch and release, as I find it all really quite pointless. When I fished, it was so that I could get something to eat, as fresh fish is really good. Letting the fish go just means one tortures an animal for some time, then let it go again so someone else can maybe torture it again later.

Now, as for alternatives to fishing, I think there's quite many. If fishing itself was the one main activity, then one could just go to some industrial fish tank somewhere, on land even, and just drop in a line with a hook and insta-catch a fish, but how is that even interesting?

What creates the scene for it all, is being out there in the wilderness, in nice weather - or even bad weather - and immersing yourself in all of it. You go there and you've brought along some food and something nice to drink and you don't stress. You relax, you enjoy everything around yourself, and quite often when those who go fishing don't even catch anything, they're not miserable when they return home. Sure, they may have wanted to catch some fish, but they're happy because they had a good time. So it's clear what really matters.

One can enjoy the ocean by sightseeing the surroundings while in ones boat, enjoying food and relaxing, or if it's a lake in the forest or the mountains, the trek there itself as well as the time spent on location is what matters.

No need to torture and kill fish to have a good time.

I recently went to check out a local lake. Really nice scenery, and merely walking around it was very nice. Unfortunately I was with family, and I say unfortunately because I felt like exploring things on my own, at my own pace. At one time I saw some marshy area, and thought to myself "I am 90% sure I will find carnivorous plants here", because I know a little about the flora and fauna of Norway. So I said "Wait a little", took a small detour, walked out of the man-made path, and headed into the marsh itself, and squatted down to check out the moss. And there it was, colonies of Drosera plants, who catches and eats insects. Around them were cranberry plants, and many other unique plants. Here I took an educated guess based on something I knew from before, I explored, and I discovered, and it was wonderful to see all of those plants.

The reason I mention this is that you don't have to kill something to enjoy nature. There's a million things you can do which is far more interesting than killing things.

If you have children, whom you've taught to respect life, and in particular according to the teachings of the Buddhas, then continue with that. Don't fall for group pressure or try to normalize the killing of animals for fun.

If you go out in nature, you can pick any square meter of an area, whether it's the beach, a forest, the mountain, the meadows, or wherever, and it will be teeming with life, and there are so many things you can explore and enjoy - and celebrate - instead of having to destroy. There's infinite things to do and learn, and none of it need involve killing.

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Re: Help me with a difficult family conversation.

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Tue Jun 19, 2018 5:55 pm

Thanks Norwegian, I think we are very much on the same page here. I'm going to go ahead and have the conversation, and emphasize doing things other than fishing.
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