Buddhism for the 21st Century Parent

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom

Buddhism for the 21st Century Parent

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Jan 06, 2009 10:58 am

Greetings,

I thought it might be worthwhile pulling together a few resources for the 21st century parent looking to use Buddhism to help them cope with the pressures of life, parenthood and so on.

Firstly, there's...

A Constitution for Living by P.A. Payutto
http://www.budsir.org/Conlive.html

which pulls together extracts from suttas that give suggestions on how various roles within society would be well filled.

Secondly, a sutta with some good advice on keeping the family together...

AN 4.32 - Sangaha Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

    "There are these four grounds for the bonds of fellowship. Which four? Generosity, kind words, beneficial help, consistency. These are the four grounds for the bonds of fellowship."
    Generosity, kind words, beneficial help,
    & consistency in the face of events,
    in line with what's appropriate
    in each case, each case.
    These bonds of fellowship [function] in the world
    like the linchpin in a moving cart.

    Now, if these bonds of fellowship were lacking,
    a mother would not receive
    the honor & respect owed by her child,
    nor would a father receive
    what his child owes him.
    But because the wise show regard
    for these bonds of fellowship,
    they achieve greatness
    and are praised.

and if you're still with me... there's this online book.

A Happy Married Life (A Buddhist Perspective)
by Ven. K. Sri Dhammananda
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... riage.html

And if you want to read more, perhaps try the following books from Sarah Napthali (I've read the first and it's pretty good)...

Buddhism For Mothers - http://www.allenandunwin.com/default.as ... 1741140101
Buddhism For Mothers With Lingering Questions -
http://www.allenandunwin.com/default.as ... 1741149074


All of the Buddha's teachings, regardless of who they're directed at, are all about the alleviation and cessation of suffering. So whilst only a small percentage might be specifically focused on the challenges facing parents, the Buddhist Noble Eightfold Path has been helping householders improve their lives for centuries.

What are your experiences as a Buddhist parent?

What Buddhist practices would you recommend for a parent new to Buddhism?

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Buddhism for the 21st Century Parent

Postby sherubtse » Wed Jan 07, 2009 1:11 am

Many thanks for the list of resources, retrofuturist. This is a subject that has been rather neglected, I think. So your suggestions come as a very welcome addition to my readings! :)

With metta,
Sherubtse
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Re: Buddhism for the 21st Century Parent

Postby christopher::: » Wed Jan 07, 2009 2:02 am

Thanks for starting this topic and for all the links, Retro.

retrofuturist wrote:
What are your experiences as a Buddhist parent?

What Buddhist practices would you recommend for a parent new to Buddhism?

Metta,
Retro. :)


Parenting is a wonderful opportunity for learning to balance detachment with compassion. We have to be deeply engaged as parents, totally mindful of how are children are doing, how we can teach and guide them, support them. At the same time we are constantly challenged with our own illusions, nondharmic thoughts, samsaric behavior patterns, emotional reactivity, etc.

The family is kind of like a cauldron if you are not lucky, a room one cannot escape where you meet the same challenges over and over again. But the dharma is the perfect guide, so its a great opportunity, if we see it that way, for practice.

One thing that has been helpful for me is to realize my own responsibility as role model for my children. We are their first teachers, their first Buddhist teachers if we are practicing the dharma. I very rarely talk about Buddhism specifically with my sons but I am constantly aware that if I am not practicing the dharma, walking the 8 fold path, I am doing them a great disservice. Teaching by example is what i see as primary.

(Accepting the fact that my wife doesn't always think the same same way is another challenge, lol.)

Just my initial 2 cents on the matter. I'd love to talk about this more with others, maybe even sharing specifics of how we applied dharmic wisdom to certain challenges or problems.
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: Buddhism for the 21st Century Parent

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Jan 07, 2009 3:26 am

Greetings christopher:::,

I'm happy to continue a discussion on the topic.

My experience to date (I have a four year old son... turning five in April) has been similar to yours. I don't discuss Buddhism per se with him, but I do try to encourage him to act with lovingkindness and compassion.

We've also got this thing we do where we use our hands to measure things... and they always end up together, as the disollution of the given object comes into being and passes away. It could be physical pain, it could be mental pain, it could be his hat which blew off when he was walking along a pier a couple of weeks ago... either way, I'm trying to bring to him an intuitive awareness of impermanence.

I do have a little booklet at home about being a Buddhist parent. I'll aim to read it once I finish the current text I'm reading and report back the highlights.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Buddhism for the 21st Century Parent

Postby sherubtse » Wed Jan 07, 2009 4:11 pm

Interesting discussion so far. But I have been pondering the following questions:

In which ways (if any) does being a Buddhist parent differ from being a Buddhist in general? Would it be true to say that one acts as a Buddhist parent no differently than one acts as a Buddhist with any and all others?

I am inclining to the view that being a Buddhist parent is perhaps no different than being a Buddhist. What I say, how I act, and what I think as a parent are no different than what I say and how I act as a Buddhist living in the world.

What we learn about how to think, speak, and act in accordance with the Dhamma applies to all, children or otherwise.

Of course, I could be wrong ....

With metta,
Sherubtse
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Re: Buddhism for the 21st Century Parent

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Jan 07, 2009 11:14 pm

Greetings sherubtse,
sherubtse wrote:In which ways (if any) does being a Buddhist parent differ from being a Buddhist in general? Would it be true to say that one acts as a Buddhist parent no differently than one acts as a Buddhist with any and all others?

I think the difference is the additional implied responsibility for the development of others. Parents play a massive role in the development of children's values, behaviours and outlook. Parenting itself is also a massive task, and having Buddhism to assist (and to cope), helps the parent be a better individual, and thus, a more capable parent.

As for the text I referred to in my post above, I see it's also available online...

Parents and Children (Transmitting the Buddhist Heritage Across Generations)
Ven. Medagama Vijiragnana Nayaka Thera

http://www.bps.lk/bodhi_leaves_library/bl_151.html

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Buddhism for the 21st Century Parent

Postby christopher::: » Thu Jan 08, 2009 4:01 am

Hi sherubtse and retro,

I'd agree with that. The key thing is your responsibility, as a guide and teacher as well as father or mother. With other people in this world we are not responsible for teaching and guiding them. If your brother, co-worker or friend has bad habits, wrong values, emotional issues, etc it's really not something you are responsible for. We try to help and be a role model, but its not our responsibility to change them or teach them how to live differently, unless they ask for our help.

With children its different. We are their first Buddhist teacher in this life, imo. It's a tremendous challenge, responsibility and opportunity.
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: Buddhism for the 21st Century Parent

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jan 08, 2009 4:06 am

Well said, christopher:::

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Buddhism for the 21st Century Parent

Postby sherubtse » Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:19 pm

I think the difference is the additional implied responsibility for the development of others. Parents play a massive role in the development of children's values, behaviours and outlook. Parenting itself is also a massive task, and having Buddhism to assist (and to cope), helps the parent be a better individual, and thus, a more capable parent.


Hi Retro:

I can certainly agree that Buddhism will hopefully make us better parents. But then, Buddhism will hopefully make us better husbands, wives, sons, cousins, friends, etc.

As to the additional responsibility of being a parent .... Yes, that is also quite true. But that is true for everyone, regardless of one's religious beliefs. All parents have this additional responsibility.

My point is that, as Buddhists, we generally do not relate to our children any differently than we relate to others. Any differences in those relationships would apply to other (ethically-minded) parents as well, and are not due to our Buddhist beliefs.

Many thanks for prodding me to think about this issue. I have enjoyed our discussion thus far! :D

With metta,
Sherubtse
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Re: Buddhism for the 21st Century Parent

Postby bodom » Fri Jan 16, 2009 1:52 pm

This would be a great sub-forum in itself. Thank you Retro for the links. I am expecting a baby of my own in about 5 months and its a really scary time in my life. Im trying to stay in the moment the best i can but i still catch my wondering mind wanting to worry and worry and worry. So what else it new! We find out what were having next wednesday so Ill be sure to let everyone know what were having.

:namaste:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Buddhism for the 21st Century Parent

Postby sherubtse » Fri Jan 16, 2009 9:21 pm

bodom_bad_boy wrote:I am expecting a baby of my own in about 5 months and its a really scary time in my life.
:namaste:


Well, congratulations! :clap: I hope the birth goes well.

Have you given any thought to what it may mean for you to be a Buddhist parent?

With metta,
Sherubtse
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Re: Buddhism for the 21st Century Parent

Postby bodom » Fri Jan 16, 2009 9:35 pm

sherubtse wrote:
bodom_bad_boy wrote:I am expecting a baby of my own in about 5 months and its a really scary time in my life.
:namaste:


Well, congratulations! :clap: I hope the birth goes well.

Have you given any thought to what it may mean for you to be a Buddhist parent?

With metta,
Sherubtse


Yes ive given it lots of thought. I even opened a thread about it in another Buddhist forum. The general concensus is that its better to just be a good parent instead of necessarily a "Buddhist" parent. I just want to raise them right.

:namaste:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Buddhism for the 21st Century Parent

Postby GrahamR » Sat Jan 17, 2009 6:32 pm

Hi,

We are expecting our second in July, my wife says being pregnant is much worse than giving birth!
Try not to worry too much, it should be an exciting time and a wonderful opportunity.

It's nice to have this forum and be able to share ideas and resources.

With metta

Graham

bodom_bad_boy wrote:This would be a great sub-forum in itself. Thank you Retro for the links. I am expecting a baby of my own in about 5 months and its a really scary time in my life. Im trying to stay in the moment the best i can but i still catch my wondering mind wanting to worry and worry and worry. So what else it new! We find out what were having next wednesday so Ill be sure to let everyone know what were having.

:namaste:
With metta :bow:
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Disciplining children?

Postby Butrfly_Nirvana » Tue Jan 19, 2010 5:25 pm

I have a 7yo son (who lives out of state during the school year with his dad), a 3yo son and a 1.5yo daughter. My 3yo son can be tough to manage at times, as I suppose many toddlers/preschoolers can be! My question is how would you say is the best approach when disciplining him/them? We've done "time outs" but to my thinking if they keep repeating the same offense then really, how effective was it? We've taken toys away (if they are relative to the incident, such as throwing a car, he'll lose the car for a period of time). I don't like yelling, threatening, or spanking, so what else can I try? We have taught them manners and while they are very well behaved children MOST of the time, I seem at a lost for those times when action does need to be taken. I guess what my question should be is "How would Buddha discipline my preschooler!?". I know that patience is key, but I feel like maybe I am missing something in my raising them. He is a very intelligent child and you can talk to him like you would a grade school aged child. I think that maybe to better assist in finding a solution I should mention that most of his offenses are involving his anger or attitude. For example, when he does get into trouble it is for fighting/arguing with his sister (speaking with anger or shaking his fist at her...rarely, but he has hit her), or not listening to what I am asking (such as "it's time to clean up your toys"....). Now don't get me wrong, there are times when he is SO helpful and can clean up the entire playroom and even vacuum it! But there are those days when I could just swear he put my voice on mute because he acts like he can't hear a thing I am saying! LOL

Anyone have any suggestions?

:shrug:
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Re: Buddhism for the 21st Century Parent

Postby Kim OHara » Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:19 pm

Hi,
You seem to be doing and saying all the right things so there's really not much I can suggest except (even more) patience and consistency.
If 'time out' isn't working very well, perhaps changing the conditions might make it more effective, e.g. 'Go to you room' where there are lots of toys to play with, might not work as well as 'Go and sit on the back step' where there aren't. 'No dessert at dinner tonight' always got the attention of my son at that age, too. :tongue:
But it's better not to need such measures.
On the positive side, engage him and stretch him intellectually. Does he read yet? Write? Use a digital camera? Grow a veggie garden? Do gymnastics? Most kids are really easy to get on with unless they are physically uncomfortable (tired/hungry/hot), deprived of attention, or bored.

Hope this helps,

Kim
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Re: Buddhism for the 21st Century Parent

Postby meindzai » Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:30 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:Most kids are really easy to get on with unless they are physically uncomfortable (tired/hungry/hot), deprived of attention, or bored.



Holy cow, I think you just gave the magic formula.

I don't have kids yet but my girlfriend and I are planning on it. We are kind of geeks when it comes to doing anything and like to prepare/study/read/talk as much as possible first. Of course I joke with her "Aren't you glad we have it all figured out? We're not going to have aaaaaaany problems at all when we have kids."

Anyway, I think that's a really excellent point you just made.

-M
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Re: Buddhism for the 21st Century Parent

Postby Butrfly_Nirvana » Wed Jan 20, 2010 2:37 am

That is very good advice. This afternoon/evening I tried to 'level' with him--got down to his eye level and we talked about why the toys needed to be picked up. We discussed all the things that could happen if the toys are left out (him or someone else getting hurt, toys getting stepped on and broken, losing his favorite cars, etc.). I kept my tone level, but definitive as to not letting him think there was an alternative to doing what I asked...he was still a bit grumpy with his responses, but overall there was no yelling or arguing, and it's now 8:30pm and the toys have since been picked! I think one of the best things I replayed in my mind was about treating him as I would someone else, with a Buddhist mindset. While I will say that it definitely took some focus and a little extra time to talk to him like that, in the end I spent LESS time fighting with him and scolding him into behaving. We even talked about why we shouldn't hit people, and why it's important to speak nicely to everyone-even if they are doing something we don't like.

I'm glad I found this thread and continued to research it. I did find an article online that said the reason there isn't a "Buddhist Parenting Code" or whatever, is because what is right for one child, even in the same family, may not be right for the other child. But that in just making sure that while you are deterring the bad behavior and encouraging good behavior, you keep in mind the Four Truths, The Eightfold Path, and so on. I'm looking forward to less stressful days at home with the kids, and I plan on applying what I've learned daily!

Thank you again!

:namaste:
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Re: Buddhism for the 21st Century Parent

Postby notself » Wed Jan 20, 2010 2:54 am

This link might be useful. It' titled How should I teach Buddhism to my children? http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... .html#kids

Here is a short quote from it.
The single most important lesson parents can convey to their children is that every action has consequences. Each moment presents us with an opportunity, and it is up to us to choose how we want to think, speak, or act. It is these choices that eventually determine our happiness. This is the essence of kamma, the basic law of cause and effect that underlies the Dhamma. It also happens to be the message behind one of the few recorded teachings the Buddha gave to his only child, Rahula. [1] This sutta — the Ambalatthikarahulovada Sutta (MN 61) — offers parents some important clues about teaching Dhamma to young children — in terms of both the content of what to teach and the method to use.
Though one may conquer a thousand times a thousand men in battle, yet he is indeed the noblest victor who conquers himself. ---Dhp 103
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Re: Buddhism for the 21st Century Parent

Postby Butrfly_Nirvana » Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:39 pm

notself wrote:This link might be useful. It' titled How should I teach Buddhism to my children? http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... .html#kids

Here is a short quote from it.
The single most important lesson parents can convey to their children is that every action has consequences. Each moment presents us with an opportunity, and it is up to us to choose how we want to think, speak, or act. It is these choices that eventually determine our happiness. This is the essence of kamma, the basic law of cause and effect that underlies the Dhamma. It also happens to be the message behind one of the few recorded teachings the Buddha gave to his only child, Rahula. [1] This sutta — the Ambalatthikarahulovada Sutta (MN 61) — offers parents some important clues about teaching Dhamma to young children — in terms of both the content of what to teach and the method to use.



Thank you for that!! That was an incredible example, especially since a lot of times parents can get a bit 'long winded' in teaching the child right from wrong! I will focus more on finding 'teaching moments' rather than just simply seeing it as 'discipline' or 'bad behavior'!

:namaste:
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Re: Buddhism for the 21st Century Parent

Postby PeterB » Wed Jan 20, 2010 5:26 pm

Just a slight note of caution. There are no " born Buddhists". Just people born into Buddhist families. So be good responsible parents. But dont except by example set out to make little Buddhists. Otherwise it will likely end in tears. The " turning about in the seat of consciousness " has to happen if it happens at all, for each person as an individual. All we can do as parents and grandparents is contribute to a favourable atmosphere. And thats a challenge.
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