Buddhist parenting

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Buddhist parenting

Post by dyanaprajna2011 » Sun Aug 18, 2013 2:13 am

Are there any good web resources for Buddhist parenting? I have three children, ages 7, 4, and 4 months, and the two older ones are Autistic. Me and my wife have some difficulty in attempting to teach them such things as right from wrong, kindness, listening, etc., and I feel that the ideas in Buddhism would help greatly, but I'm having a bit of trouble finding anything online. Any help would be appreciated.
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Re: Buddhist parenting

Post by Kim O'Hara » Sun Aug 18, 2013 4:14 am

Threads from our sister site:
http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... r&start=60

I read many of them at the time but haven't reviewed them just now except to put the 'resources' thread first in this list.

Hope they help!


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Re: Buddhist parenting

Post by shaunc » Sun Aug 18, 2013 10:56 am

There's an Australian pureland site that has quite a few children's books. One of them is a type of Buddhist Sunday school text book. I use it a bit myself, but don't tell anyone.

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Re: Buddhist parenting

Post by disjointed » Thu Oct 17, 2013 11:06 pm

I did not expose my children to Buddhism much because I was worried if I pushed it on them they would reject it every time they were upset with me. I hoped I would be a good enough example to inspire them to practice on their own. I think this was a good route to take.

My oldest is 23 and she's more like her father than me, by which I mean she's about good times until the s#*t hits the fan and then she's serious about Dharma. My children aren't hard core Buddhists, but I think when they hit a rough patch in life they will all know to turn to Buddhism.

Just my ideas. It might be better to raise children as Buddhists.
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Re: Buddhist parenting

Post by krodha » Fri Oct 18, 2013 12:00 am

disjointed wrote:Just my ideas. It might be better to raise children as Buddhists.
Important to tread lightly (and wisely) though; my mentor is a perfect example of this. His son is now in his late 20's, but when he was a child, my mentor made sure that he created a fun environment around the dharma. He never pushed it on his son, but made it enjoyable. For instance; he would place his son on his shoulders and let him ring the bell and wave the vajra around and they would clap and dance and sing Vajra Guru Mantra... his son remembers it to this day.

When his son got older, and there were teachings to attend, my mentor would set up a fun outing around the event, and let his son bring a video game he could play quietly during the teaching. Before hand they would go and get lunch wherever his son wanted to, and afterwards they would go see a movie and get ice cream. So his son learned that going to the teachings wasn't all that bad. During empowerments and important transmissions (meaning in the moments the teacher was giving the wang or lung) he would have his son sit on his lap and pay attention, but the rest of the time he was allowed to play quietly. He never pushed it on his son though, and now that his son is older, he's an avid Chödpa and is very passionate about the Dharma. He's also a happy and well balanced guy, so my mentor did good raising him.

I do the same with my son, who's 4. He knows about buddhas, and says they're like magical ninjas, he'll have his toy ninjas pretend to meditate etc. I let him ring the bell and pretend he's shooting lighting out of the vajra. We hung prayer flags in his room, and he's visited my Kagyu lama here in SF who gave him a small wooden prayer wheel and a pouch for his toys. I've taken him to group practice (ganapuja) and let him take a brief look at webcasts from Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche (when I'm watching) until he loses interest. He knows about the Dzogchen guardians (I have a large thangka with the three of them on it he looks at) and says they're the guys who kick butt. He has a positive perception of the Dharma and that's all that's important I think. Whether he chooses to be involved with it when he's older, that will be up to him, I'll never push it on him. The last thing I'd want is to try and condition him like that. That is when you get resistance and can ruin the experience for them. It's just good to create a positive and light environment with the teachings, have the Dharma present and accessible but don't ever indoctrinate or insist upon it.

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Re: Buddhist parenting

Post by Lhug-Pa » Fri Oct 18, 2013 12:51 am

http://www.tibetantreasures.com/Books_C ... Books.html

And I think that there is a Mirror of Freedom pamphlet by Chagdud Tulku about parenting.

See Articles by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu:

http://www.shangshungstore.org/index.ph ... t_list&c=3

http://shangshung.org/store/index.php?m ... cts_id=208

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Re: Buddhist parenting

Post by Nemo » Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:44 am

Making your children keep the five precepts is very helpful. Teaching them about motivation and empathy pays dividends very early on. Some people are so casual about killing, I find that is like poison to a child's spiritual development. No killing any living thing and even respecting plants as alive makes for much gentler thoughtful kids. So many kids are obsessed with possessions just like their parents. Your children will reflect all your flaws and strengths. Whatever is most important to you will become very evident in your child's character.

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Re: Buddhist parenting

Post by Kim O'Hara » Fri Oct 18, 2013 6:21 am

The first of these came to mind when I read Nemo's post. The other was in the same folder and I thought you all might like it. Both are from a site called DharmaArt ... gurgle will find it.

248114_10151575087609333_1679088569_n.jpg (48.88 KiB) Viewed 2977 times
564505_10151283635589333_1526967839_n.png (324.96 KiB) Viewed 2966 times

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Re: Buddhist parenting

Post by DGA » Sat Oct 19, 2013 12:40 am

I'm reading this with interest, as my wife and I are in training to become foster & adoptive parents in the city where we live. Any particular guidance for new parents in this role? many thanks

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Re: Buddhist parenting

Post by Glyn » Sat Oct 19, 2013 7:31 pm

I do not have children, but think being a parent is the most difficult job in the world.

Just teaching them to be kind, and letting them have access to sublime Dharma is probably the most smart thing.

My upbringing was not really conventional, but was heavily focussed on what I would call cultural Buddhism, which is different from sublime dharma. I often feel torn between worlds from this because certain things are expected of me sometimes, and I really do not feel that those expectations match with my abilities and interests all the time.
"It's not ok to practice Dharma sometimes, just when you feel like it. You have to practice all the time" - Lama Rigzin Rinpoche.

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Re: Buddhist parenting

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Sat Oct 19, 2013 10:38 pm

My daughter (4) is Jewish, and goes to hebrew -preschool, so I try to introduce Dharma stuff without being overbearing or interfering in her Jewish education. it's tricky territory sometimes. Hopefully by the time my younger son is older, I will have some time-tested tricks.

I try things like: calming down by watching the breath, or when she is mad I say she can "look at the Buddha inside her" to calm down, also sometimes if she is mad and also wants to "give the Buddha something" (usually a scribble on a piece of paper lol, she likes giving them gifts) I say she can give that to Buddha, and she can give away whatever she is angry about too.

Little things like this actually seem to interest her, no idea if any of it will stick or not. Kids really like Dharma trappings, the more colorful the better - sometimes they are a danger to statues though, poor Avalokiteshvara has lost an arm and required surgery. There is also a "Buddha at bedtime" book put out by (I think) someone in the FWBO that I actually thought was pretty decent, I would say the age range of it was above our uses, probably 6 or 7 maybe..but it had great illustrations and I thought for a kids book it was quite good.

The monastery my center is connected with actually has day care and activities for kids while you attend Chenrezig practice, which is fantastic and one day I will definitely make the trip for it, as it seems like stuff like this is regrettably rare.
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Re: Buddhist parenting

Post by Seishin » Mon Oct 21, 2013 5:02 pm

I'm also interested in this thread as my daughter will be coming up to 2yrs very soon. So far, I haven't taught her "dharma" as such, but she has naturally picked things up without any encouragement. She likes to sit with me in front of my shrine, and she hits the bell and the wooden fish and "chants". She also bows everytime she sees a Buddha which is really cute and she tries to copy the gassho mudra. If I forget to bow she tells me off and make sure I bow too! :tongue: She also says (or tries to) "Itadakimasu" before we eat! I never shut the door when I'm meditating, I let her come in and watch me or sit with me, it doesn't bother me. Of course, I try to pick the times when she is either occupied or asleep, but sometimes you take whatever time your can get! :tongue:

I'd like her to learn to meditate as she gets older, as I believe it'll be very beneficial, but I don't expect her to come along to our sangha or chant etc. I think it should be her choice to actually follow Buddhism and not something I've imposed. At the moment I'm trying to teach her how to share and not to kill any bug that she sees! Amongst the usual toddler things like not to bite, slap, scream etc etc.

I think, my advice thus far as a "new" Buddhist parent would be to not loose your temper but use energy in your voice when telling off, and don't be afraid to tell off and punish your child. Set clear boundaries. Spend as much free time with your child as possible, both individually and as a couple. Also let your child have their own time to themselves. I'm sure my thoughts and ideas will change as we both grow....


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Re: Buddhist parenting

Post by cherylwrites » Mon Jun 16, 2014 5:46 pm

Hi all,

I know this topic isn't active but I'm in search of parenting advice and hoping to reignite the discussion. Would greatly appreciate input.

My partner and I are adopting a child, our first child, and I'm grappling with some issues. We don't believe in harming or eating animals, love and feed the squirrels and birds in our backyard, have pets, and overall are strong believers in non-violence and right conduct. I personally feel that exposing children to glorified imagery of guns and violence, meat eating and so on is not aligned with our values at all.

I don't have family (parents, siblings) of my own really and live in my partner's country of origin, not mine. So we will be relying on his extended family for our children, they will be an obviously important part of our family. There are a few problems that I don't know what to do about with regards to his family. Firstly, they are mostly atheists and/or materialists to agnostic, at best. They are very liberal, and generally kind people, but there is a lack of values that is undeniable. There are 7 of them living in the country house they live in (parents and adult children living at home for the time being). Yesterday I was informed they had killed squirrels and eaten them. My future children's grandfather keeps a shotgun in the house and shoots squirrels for no reason I'm aware of, it seems mainly for sport when he gets the itch to shoot. He was raised in Kenya and this is normal to him. Also, they are apparently eating meat EVERY night for dinner, knowing that it's immoral on many levels to eat meat. Also, our future child's uncle who is living with his parents for the foreseeable future is joining the Army Reserves, shoots recreationally (plates, cans), is highly interested in war and war museums, and can't seem to distinguish between fantasy and reality when it comes to guns; it's as if he is now living out childhood fantasies, though turning 30 years old. The confusing part for me is that he is also interested in spiritual ecology, and his values don't at all appear to align with being in the Army. He has now said that he will soon only eat meat from animals he has killed himself, as though that makes it better.

I have tried talking to others about this and am met with it not being the issue I'm making it out to be so I don't know what to do. From one Buddhist friend, I was told that none of this is real. 'You say you are awake to the true Self and yet you seem to write as if there is such a thing as free will or good and bad, death and life, suffering and loss. You seem to think that you "do" something to benefit your children's course of action... that this is under your control.' How would I deal with this if/when I have children in this environment? We are planning to adopt very soon and now I'm slightly terrified given all of this. We teach children primarily through example. But surely extended family's example is important to consider as well? Would anyone go so far as to not allow their children around this? I don't even know what to ask for exactly, just any advice about what others would do if in this situation. I understand that no family is perfect and am absolutely accepting of that, but violence and killing animals is number one on my no list. As a parent, I want to do what I can for my children, to ensure they are exposed to the right environment.

Sorry for ranting a bit. Thanks in advance for your help.

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Re: Buddhist parenting

Post by Russell » Mon Jun 16, 2014 8:43 pm

I am not a parent and no experience with this kind of culture but here are some general things that might help.

Firstly you need to check whether you are really at peace, wise and confident about these issues yourself. So look again at how you think about these issues and how you think about others who dont follow the same values as you. See if you can refine and broaden your thinking a bit, look at different ways and atittudes that you can have about vegetarianism, understand and respect counter arguements etc. until you can be relaxed and confident about your position.

The reason I say this is because I think if you really have confidence in your approach then you wont worry so much about your children being exposed to this and will be confident that you can pass on your ways of handling it and thinking about it. So although they will be exposed to it, if they see your confidence and well thought out attitude about it, they will respect that and it will automatically have the power to guide their own development. Actually it could be even better they are exposed to it in this way (if it is not too extreme or too much early on etc) then you can then educate them in how to deal with it early on, and they will be better prepared for when they face this and many other similar influences later on.

As for giving it too much importance, this is a very useful concept in Buddhism but it needs to be understood within the proper context and not sure I can explain that to you in a useful way without slipping into a 'nothing matters' attitude. But if you continue your study/practise of buddhism you can get the big picture about this and understand what it means. What I will say is that even if you think something is very important try not to be too emotional about it. Dont give it too much importance emotionally, instead be philosophical and practical about it as best you can, and then save your energy and attention for all the other parts of being a parent. :smile:

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Re: Buddhist parenting

Post by Punya » Mon Jun 16, 2014 10:11 pm

Hi Cheryl. Welcome to dharma wheel.

I agree with Soar's comments. I would add that children are not stupid and from a reasonably young age they can see that things are done differently in different households. You, as parents, will have the greatest influence and teaching them positive values by example will hold them in good stead into adulthood. (Personally, I don't think buddhists have a monopoly on such values though.) When my children said how come x is allowed to do y and we aren't, I simply said this is how we do things in our house. I found they were able to accept this. At the same time, as adults, they will make their own judgements about what is important and my children have certainly taught me a thing or two. :tongue:
May the stupid meditators be awakened from the sleep of ignorance;
May the attacks of the logicians with their sophistries be vanquished.

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

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Re: Buddhist parenting

Post by Kim O'Hara » Mon Jun 16, 2014 10:51 pm

I agree with Punya's comment, and would add that you must remember that a child's understanding is very dependent on his/her age. "They do things differently from us" is enough until they are old enough to ask more specific questions, and by that time you will be well aware of the level of explanation they need. Another year or two later, the cycle is repeated at the next level of understanding ... and so on.
It's good if you don't cling too tightly to your own way of doing things and if you can find friends with compatible values - and bear in mind that they may not be Buddhists. For instance, a lot of the people whose values I share are good Christians - "good" meaning both kind-hearted and devout.


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Re: Buddhist parenting

Post by underthetree » Mon Jun 16, 2014 11:06 pm

Welcome, Cheryl.

As the parent of three adopted children, I can say that it's an amazing thing you are about to do. Challenging, terrifying, wonderful, life-affirming... Pretty much all-encompassing, really. If I could give you one single piece of advice, it would be to let go of all your preconceptions. Let go of limitations. You are opening up your life to a child. Don't stop there. Keep opening.

As regards your extended family: assuming they are warm and open-hearted, they will be a completely invaluable resource to you, because you need to have a support network. Basically, you want them on your side. Don't worry about their influence. The biggest influences by far on your child will be you and your partner. And your child will have a mind of his or her own. If she wants to feed the birds with you, tremendous. If she decides she wants to eat squirrels, well, perhaps she'll grow out of it. Meanwhile, you lead by example. Your influence, if it is consistent and kind, will always be more important than theirs. Teach your kid that some people - many people - eat meat. That isn't your own practice. That isn't what you do in your family. Your kids will find their own path. The important thing is that you give them all the guidance you can as they are searching for it.

I'm a practicing Buddhist (and meat-eater). My wife is not. I don't try to shove Buddhism onto my kids. They've figured out by themselves - with perhaps a little guidance - that kindness and compassion are sensible things to have in your life. We've managed to keep the grosser aspects of violent culture away from our kids quite successfully with surprisingly little effort. It's amazing what breaking the TV (a serendipitous accident) can do for your family life. Anyway, it's an adventure unlike any other. Good luck!

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