I am a new mum and a beginner in learning Buddhism.
Wanted to know what are the best practices in parenting through the Buddhism way?
Please share your tips here for my learning!
I am a new mum and a beginner in learning Buddhism.
I found this very useful article which we can read to our child:
My dear child,
As your parents, we welcome you to this new life and wish you everything good in it. Even though we were strangers not long ago—we do not know who you were just two years ago—we love you. We will do our best to provide for you materially, give you a good education, and care for you in all circumstances.
As your parents, we will have a caring relationship and communicate well with each other, for we know that is the best way to let you know that this world is a loving place. We will live ethically so that you will learn good habits from observing how we live. We will work to subdue our anger and to learn good skills for resolving conflicts so that you will have good role models for this. We will smile, laugh, and share our affection so that you will feel comfortable doing the same.
You do not belong to us. You belong to all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas. You belong to all sentient beings in this universe. We want to enable you to share your love and talents with others and the world. Similarly, we also belong to the world, and we will take the love we have for you and spread it to all living beings everywhere, because love is not something that is limited in quantity. By loving you and loving each other, we will learn how to love all other beings as well.
You have come into this world with your own karma. We cannot control everything you do or everything that happens to you. We will do our best to nurture your positive predispositions and help subdue your negative ones. We will do our best to protect you, knowing that as much as we would like to, we cannot prevent you from ever experiencing suffering. You will learn through your own life experiences, and we will do our best to give you the skills to make wise decisions and to handle situations creatively and with kindness.
We will do our best to raise you so that you will be aware of your own Buddha nature—the basic purity of your mind that is your potential to become a fully enlightened being. The seeds of love, compassion, generosity, ethical discipline, patience, joyous effort, concentration, wisdom, and other wonderful qualities already exist in your mind. We will help you to cultivate this aspect of your Buddha nature too. We want you to have a self-confidence that is based not on transient, superficial factors, but on a deep awareness of your own inner goodness.
We know that we and you will make mistakes in life and that sometimes we will be in conflict. But realizing that all of us have this precious Buddha potential, we will still respect each other and do what we can to help each other.
We have given you this human body and pray that you will have a precious human life, one in which you not only meet the Dharma and fully qualified spiritual masters, but also have trust in the Three Jewels—the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha—and practice the Dharma.
Parents’ aspirations for the children
May these children live long, meet the Dharma, benefit others, and live a meaningful and fulfilling life. May they have good health physically and mentally. May they develop a kind and loving heart towards all living beings. May we help each other on the path to enlightenment in this and all future lives.
As a parent learning the dharma and experiencing many benefits from it, I have been sharing the dharma with my children since they were young in the hope that they will walk upon this path too. Sometimes when they come back from school and relate their experiences in school, I would tell them stories of the Budhha that are related to their experience. Eg. My daughter told me about a boy in her school who stomped on snails for fun. Rather than telling her stomping on snails is bad, I told her stories about the Budhha who was kind to animals since young, and his compassionate nature earned much love from his subjects. In ways like these, I hope my children can grow up learning and emulating the good qualities of the Buddha. Other stories can come from Sutra of The Wise and Foolish or Jataka Tales too.
like good English translations? haha…I am jiak kang tang one (i eat potato one)
I understand that 弟子规 <> is also a good foundation to teach the kids too!
But most importantly, we as parents must set a good example, as kids will observe & model what we do!
Mine are not online resources but printed books for children which can be bought from Buddhist bookstores, and they are in English! (I eat potato too!)
I found an online copy of the 白話《賢愚因緣經》. Have to brush up on my Chinese…
And a treasure trove of resources on Buddhism:
如得法师 provides his approach on answering that perennially troublesome question from your kids:
“who do you love the most among your children?”
I like how 如得法师 reveals a different perspective and teaches how we may be too narrow and constrictive in our answer.
So instead of just fobbing the usual reply of “I love all of you, all of you are my kids”
Can try “I love you best…when you are studying diligently or when you are being kind to others”
Can’t wait to try it out on my kids when they ask that question !
Latest video from 如得法师 on methods to educate our kids:
My main learning points:
Reflecting on a saying by Confucious: 以身教者从，以言教者讼.
A parent is better off teaching by setting an example for his kids (身教) rather than just ordering or scolding his kids and expecting results (言教).
如得法师 quoted this scenario: if a parent forbids the child to stop playing mobile games but the parent himself is addicted to mobile games - how would one expect the child to follow instructions after seeing the example set by the parent.
One can make the educating process fun and entertaining for the child and in this process, impart the important teachings. This is to help cultivate the interest in learning and form the positive behaviour in the child. Once the child has this self motivation, he will be learning on his own.
Contrast this with the common parenting method I see around us - using rote learning, using a regimented approach, forcing and scolding.
So how does 如得法师 recommend we do to make lessons interesting for children?
In fact, one should have such stories prepared so that one can use this at the opportune moments. He quoted a figure of 100 stories.
Hope I can take these lessons to heart and practise them.