Help! How to raise a child in an inter-faith marriage?

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Re: Help! How to raise a child in an inter-faith marriage?

Postby Ytrog » Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:54 pm

Khalil Bodhi wrote:
Zom wrote:One more option to consider: fight fire with fire. If she so blindly believes that she will fall away from Jesus and fall into hell - tell her exactly the opposite - that she will fall in hell or in lower worlds because she dismisses Buddha's teaching and has wrong view. And Buddha said that those who behave like that has only two possible destinies: either hell or rebirth as animal.

May be that direct and pure religious statement will make an effect of shock therapy on her. So may be she will open a little bit and start to think.


Sounds like a sure-fire way to destroy a relationship.

:goodpost: Fighting fire with fire is never a solution and not a very Buddhists way of solving things. Remember to avoid falling in the trap of thinking in terms of "me" and "her". Think in terms of "us". Any solution has to be "our" solution, not just yours or hers. It seems that she is trying to raise your daughter and you are. What about raising her together?

Maybe this wil help?: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANrqHO24Ttw (Raising children - Ajahn Brahm)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PR0w_6F8xDs (Living with Non-Buddhists - Ajahn Brahm)

The second one has a very relevant statement at around 21 minutes: "we really respected your Buddhism, really respected it and the main reason for that is that you've never pushed it down our throat".

Disclaimer: I have no experience in raising kids myself, but I hope this will help you both. I think the Dhamma has some very powerful tools to deal with difficulties between views of two people. Just remember to never push your own view. :anjali:
Suffering is asking from life what it can never give you.


mindfulness, bliss and beyond (page 8) wrote:Do not linger on the past. Do not keep carrying around coffins full of dead moments


If you see any unskillful speech (or other action) from me let me know, so I can learn from it.
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Re: Help! How to raise a child in an inter-faith marriage?

Postby Anagarika » Fri Jan 06, 2012 3:24 pm

puppha wrote:Just a little additional comment. I am also slow to take action in teaching my daughter because I don't want her to become a battlefield for her parents. On the other hand, the Buddha's teachings will benefit her immensly... At least I can encourage her to use her brains, logic and reasoning as santa100 mentioned.


You're to be congratulated for your approach in all of this. It's great to hear you say that you will put the interests of your daughter first. I see so many parents "triangulate" their children, and make the parent's issues the children's. Parents who put their children in the middle of their issues really damage the children, and many parents with this out of control thinking create enormous emotional and psychological problems for their kids.

The good news for you and your daughter, it seems, is that you are approaching all of this stuff from your wife with equanimity and compassion. You will be and continue to be, a safe harbor for your daughter, and a mentor in how to behave and think.

I have had cases where there is a disordered parent...I don't mean only a religious fundamentalist and black/white thinker, but a parent with a serious personality disorder. The literature, and my experience, suggests that so long as one parent maintains balance and provides this emotional safe harbor, the children tend to come out OK.

In your situation as you have done, maintaining balance with your daughter, giving her guidance in terms that do not suggest that her mother is wrong or "crazy" will go along way toward creating emotional security with her. In time, she'll learn how to deal with her mother's black and white thinking and "burn in hell" ideas.

Just from reading your posts and responses, I can see that you have the intellect, love, compassion and wisdom to deal with this issue in your family in a positive way and that suggests strongly that you and your daughter will be fine in this. It may not be fun all the time in your household, but to your credit, it won't be an environment where your daughter is hurt by her mother's behaviors.

I wish I saw more Dads like you. Sadhu!
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Re: Help! How to raise a child in an inter-faith marriage?

Postby Zom » Fri Jan 06, 2012 4:00 pm

Sounds like a sure-fire way to destroy a relationship.


Not necessarily. It depends on the situation. This may help if someone is very close-minded so to enter his field of awareness you should enter "his zone of thinking". All other approaches will be just ignored because of non-listening or even because of inability to listen because of this "personal narrowest zone of thinking".


[3] In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, but unendearing & disagreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them. MN 58 (worth reading!)
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Re: Help! How to raise a child in an inter-faith marriage?

Postby puppha » Fri Jan 06, 2012 9:42 pm

Ytrog wrote:Fighting fire with fire is never a solution and not a very Buddhists way of solving things.

And there is the Dpa5 to remind us of that.

Ytrog wrote:Remember to avoid falling in the trap of thinking in terms of "me" and "her". Think in terms of "us". Any solution has to be "our" solution, not just yours or hers. It seems that she is trying to raise your daughter and you are. What about raising her together?

That requires cooperation from both sides, but one of them doesn't want to hear about it...
Thanks a lot for the videos! I started to watch them, they are very instructive!

BuddhaSoup wrote:I wish I saw more Dads like you. Sadhu!

Oh dear! My feet do not touch the ground anymore! :embarassed:
But thank you!
From your posts, I suppose you work as a family counsellor or something like that?...

BuddhaSoup wrote:The good news for you and your daughter, it seems, is that you are approaching all of this stuff from your wife with equanimity and compassion. You will be and continue to be, a safe harbor for your daughter, and a mentor in how to behave and think.

Thank you! That's a lot of encouragement to me!

BuddhaSoup wrote:In your situation as you have done, maintaining balance with your daughter, giving her guidance in terms that do not suggest that her mother is wrong or "crazy" will go along way toward creating emotional security with her.

You just worded something that was in my mind unconsciously. I indeed always took care never to bad-mouth her mother or to suggest she was wrong, that just seemed wrong to me to criticise her mother in front of her.

BuddhaSoup wrote:In time, she'll learn how to deal with her mother's black and white thinking and "burn in hell" ideas.

In the first video posted by Ytrog, Ajhan Brahms said that to raise your child, just teach them 2 things: honesty (mainly towards themselves) and questioning. That makes so much sense to me! I'll definitely try to apply this advice! That will certainly help her to see things for herself.

BuddhaSoup wrote:Just from reading your posts and responses, I can see that you have the intellect, love, compassion and wisdom to deal with this issue in your family in a positive way and that suggests strongly that you and your daughter will be fine in this. It may not be fun all the time in your household, but to your credit, it won't be an environment where your daughter is hurt by her mother's behaviors.

Thank you! :embarassed:
Thank you for your post, that gave me a lot of encouragements.

I think I have a clearer view of what to do: teach my daughter in a soft way that is not antagonising her mother's religion, and tell her about the benefits of the Buddhadhamma (according to her age of course). Teach her about questioning things and not to accept half-baked truths from authorities or because of fear of being rejected. And try to be an example of course! The rest will follow.

Many thanks to all! :thanks:
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Re: Help! How to raise a child in an inter-faith marriage?

Postby Tyler » Mon Jan 23, 2012 5:31 am

Puppha,
That is a tough situation and I hope that things are going well for you with some of the insights that have been offered on this board thus far. I think we should remember than many of us on this board come from a Christian country/family/background. There was something good/bad about the Christianity that led us to our current path as Buddhists. The same effect could happen in the case of your child. There is a wealth of dhamma in the Bible and these things can be correlated to our practice as Buddhists. Learning about Thomas Merton (A Christian Monk who took a liking to buddhist practice) and Christian meditation may be a good place to start with finding a middle ground for integrating these worlds together in some ways.
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Re: Help! How to raise a child in an inter-faith marriage?

Postby Ferox » Fri Feb 03, 2012 2:01 am

As someone who was raised in a strict catholic family only to completely denounce it by age 17 and years later become a Buddhist, I think your wife should be careful if she pushes too much on her child. When they are young of course they go a long with it but as they get older they start to question.. and oh boy that's when the crap hits the fan lol.

I remember being in 6th grade and watching a video in class(I went to Catholic school my whole life) that was saying how everyone else was just being roped to the cross and only Jesus was nailed.. Myself being a smart alec kid who knew about ww2 and history even as a 9 year old, raised my hand to the nun and told her that this video is lying because the Romans nailed many millions of people to crosses.. needless to say I was sent to the nun principle LOL.

I'm not a parent and I think that you can try to work with your wife to come up with a solution, but In the end it just may be your daughter seeing YOU for YOU that will make her question and want to know more. It's just like how we deal with people in the world and how we show people the dhamma by LIVING the dhamma.
-just one more being treading the ancient path of Dhamma-
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Re: Help! How to raise a child in an inter-faith marriage?

Postby puppha » Wed Feb 08, 2012 11:18 am

Hi Ferox,

Ferox wrote:As someone who was raised in a strict catholic family only to completely denounce it by age 17 and years later become a Buddhist, I think your wife should be careful if she pushes too much on her child. When they are young of course they go a long with it but as they get older they start to question.. and oh boy that's when the crap hits the fan lol.

I remember being in 6th grade and watching a video in class(I went to Catholic school my whole life) that was saying how everyone else was just being roped to the cross and only Jesus was nailed.. Myself being a smart alec kid who knew about ww2 and history even as a 9 year old, raised my hand to the nun and told her that this video is lying because the Romans nailed many millions of people to crosses.. needless to say I was sent to the nun principle LOL.

I'm not a parent and I think that you can try to work with your wife to come up with a solution, but In the end it just may be your daughter seeing YOU for YOU that will make her question and want to know more. It's just like how we deal with people in the world and how we show people the dhamma by LIVING the dhamma.


Thanks for your input!
I wholeheartedly agree with your last comment. The bare fact is that Christianity is much more attractive to a young child than Buddhism. In Christianity, they have a friend in the person of Jesus, who loves children and cares for them (as long as they believe, of course). In Buddhism, they have no such thing. As I see it, Buddhism is for adults and is really about growing up, while Christianity is really about keeping you as a child. After all, Jesus is quoted saying "come to me as children would come". In other words, just believe and don't ask questions.
At this stage, I think the most important for me is to teach my daughter about questioning and encourage her on the path of investigation. I think in Christianity this is something that is strongly discouraged, if not forbidden. Children feel that and consequently will not question. But as you said, when the child grows up, (s)he might start challenging received beliefs.

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Re: Help! How to raise a child in an inter-faith marriage?

Postby Ben » Wed Feb 08, 2012 11:25 am

puppha wrote:The bare fact is that Christianity is much more attractive to a young child than Buddhism.

Maybe some - not all.
My 11-year old son is a case in point. He worked out from an early age that God is a fiction of the same calibre as Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. He has also done a children's course (anapana meditation, stories and other activities) and identifies as a Buddhist. Its all how it is presented. And me - I was first interested in Buddhism when I was only 9 years old.
But given your situation i would second ferox's comments. Let your daughter discover the Dhamma through your exemplary behaviour.
kind regards,

Ben
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saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

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Re: Help! How to raise a child in an inter-faith marriage?

Postby puppha » Thu Feb 09, 2012 9:54 am

Dear Ben,

Ben wrote:Maybe some - not all.
My 11-year old son is a case in point. He worked out from an early age that God is a fiction of the same calibre as Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. ---snip--- Its all how it is presented.

I agree with you that it depends on circumstances. My 6 years old daughter is not old enough to deeply question what she is observing. If she is told every single day that "Jesus loves you" and if she sees every week at church a hundred people worshiping God/Jesus, it is to be expected that a child of that age will believe these grown-ups should be right.

Thank you for sharing your experience. I found a Buddhist Sunday school more geared towards westerners, I might bring her there a few times. The one at the Vihara is really for Sri Lankans (with Singhalese classes, etc...)

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Re: Help! How to raise a child in an inter-faith marriage?

Postby Fede » Thu Feb 09, 2012 10:52 am

puppha wrote:.....My 6 years old daughter is not old enough to deeply question what she is observing.

as a 50+-year-old ex-Roman catholic, i can tell you this isn't true.
I would be prepared to bet a pound to a pinch of salt that she has all manner of questions in that little head of hers... I did, as did my 2 daughters.....
tehy won't be great philosophical, deep and discursive questions, but they'll be logical 6-year old questions, for sure....

If she is told every single day that "Jesus loves you" and if she sees every week at church a hundred people worshiping God/Jesus, it is to be expected that a child of that age will believe these grown-ups should be right.

Sure it's expected. children shouldn't yak back or speak out of turn,,, and a child brought up to respect her elders, as it very much sounds as if yours has, will have some conflict of ideas in her mind, for precisely the reasons you cite.
she's not asking, because she's been brought up under the impression that adults know best, are right and don't lie.
But I bet if you were to go through some innocent, general discussion with her about what she thinks of Jesus, and why, and what she thinks about going to church on Sunday, and all the things she's witnessed, she's going to be a little confused - and amusing even - in her responses. And if you've discussed father Christmas, the Easter bunny and the Tooth fairy with her.... and eventually the truth comes out......hello....?

see?
What we feed our children shapes who they become.
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Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

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Re: Help! How to raise a child in an inter-faith marriage?

Postby puppha » Thu Feb 09, 2012 1:15 pm

Dear Fede,

Fede wrote:
puppha wrote:.....My 6 years old daughter is not old enough to deeply question what she is observing.

as a 50+-year-old ex-Roman catholic, i can tell you this isn't true.
I would be prepared to bet a pound to a pinch of salt that she has all manner of questions in that little head of hers... I did, as did my 2 daughters.....
tehy won't be great philosophical, deep and discursive questions, but they'll be logical 6-year old questions, for sure....

Maybe, yes...
At least, she knows that one of her parent thinks differently.

Fede wrote:And if you've discussed father Christmas, the Easter bunny and the Tooth fairy with her.... and eventually the truth comes out......hello....?

I see what you mean.
In fact, my wife actively cultivate the belief of Father Xmas in our daughter, telling her she believes Father Xmas exists!!!
:rolleye:
She says it's good for her imagination!
Thinking about it, she probably just have created a little time bomb. When our daughter will understand that there is no Father Xmas, she might think that her mother told her stories on other points too...
Personally, I am against promoting the existence of Father Xmas etc. to children. I fail to see the point in that, it's just lying.

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Re: Help! How to raise a child in an inter-faith marriage?

Postby Fede » Thu Feb 09, 2012 3:17 pm

Father Christmas is easy to back up, with so much annual visual proof... they're everywhere...on TV, in films, in shopping malls.... and yet - how do we explain so many...? :thinking:
Fabricated stories come unstuck the more we try to pin them down....

And out of respect for those who follow a theistic faith, I really am talking about the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and Father Christmas....
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


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Re: Help! How to raise a child in an inter-faith marriage?

Postby puppha » Mon Feb 13, 2012 10:44 am

An interesting update,

Ben wrote:Its all how it is presented.

I just had evidence that this is true. A couple of days ago, I was in my office and I wanted to search on youtube for some dhamma talks. The first videos that came up where some children songs about the dhamma. Exactly at this time, my daughter entered my office and came to my laps. So I played the first video. It was a nice simple song "dhamma is good, sadhu for dhamma" and she liked it. In the suggested links, there was an animation of the life of the Buddha and she enjoyed it, she said the Buddha is invincible when Devadattha was trying to kill him! When it was finished (and time to go to bed) she said she would like to see more next time.
Actually, I didn't know there were such videos on youtube! And these were perfect for young children. The people who did those are really helpful.

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Re: Help! How to raise a child in an inter-faith marriage?

Postby Ben » Mon Feb 13, 2012 10:55 am

puppha wrote:An interesting update,

Ben wrote:Its all how it is presented.

I just had evidence that this is true. A couple of days ago, I was in my office and I wanted to search on youtube for some dhamma talks. The first videos that came up where some children songs about the dhamma. Exactly at this time, my daughter entered my office and came to my laps. So I played the first video. It was a nice simple song "dhamma is good, sadhu for dhamma" and she liked it. In the suggested links, there was an animation of the life of the Buddha and she enjoyed it, she said the Buddha is invincible when Devadattha was trying to kill him! When it was finished (and time to go to bed) she said she would like to see more next time.
Actually, I didn't know there were such videos on youtube! And these were perfect for young children. The people who did those are really helpful.

With Metta


That is fantastic, puppha! It reminds me when I returned from Myanmar this time last year I brought home some gifts for my family. One was a small black and white poster of the Buddha that is a replica of the poster the monks were carrying in their uprising in 2007. I gave it to my ten-year old son who I am sure will walk in my footsteps on the path. It had the enscription in english and burmese: "The Buddha: the unrivaled".

I think you have the capacity to make a profound impact on your daughter by how you live the Dhamma and share these special moments with her. Just keep in mind that you are planting the seed of Dhamma which may ripen in the future - her paramitas permitting.
kind regards,

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: Help! How to raise a child in an inter-faith marriage?

Postby Sanghamitta » Mon Feb 13, 2012 11:32 am

I wonder how many who have answered here have raised children. The fact is ALL we can do is attempt to be as positive an influence as we can and then cross our fingers as they hit adolescence...

My husband when we were idealistic twenty somethings pointed out a cartoon which was of a baby in a highchair throwing her/his food on the floor and saying " I reject you and all your values starting with brown rice, tahini, and the laws of karma ! "

lets not kid ourselves that Buddhism is somehow exempt from the need for each generation to find their own identity rather than a received one.
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Re: Help! How to raise a child in an inter-faith marriage?

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Mon Feb 13, 2012 12:13 pm

puppha wrote:An interesting update,

Ben wrote:Its all how it is presented.

I just had evidence that this is true. A couple of days ago, I was in my office and I wanted to search on youtube for some dhamma talks. The first videos that came up where some children songs about the dhamma. Exactly at this time, my daughter entered my office and came to my laps. So I played the first video. It was a nice simple song "dhamma is good, sadhu for dhamma" and she liked it. In the suggested links, there was an animation of the life of the Buddha and she enjoyed it, she said the Buddha is invincible when Devadattha was trying to kill him! When it was finished (and time to go to bed) she said she would like to see more next time.
Actually, I didn't know there were such videos on youtube! And these were perfect for young children. The people who did those are really helpful.

With Metta


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Re: Help! How to raise a child in an inter-faith marriage?

Postby puppha » Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:03 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:lets not kid ourselves that Buddhism is somehow exempt from the need for each generation to find their own identity rather than a received one.

Absolutely. I already committed myself to accept my daughter whatever path she chooses to follow.

There is a little incident I forgot to mention. While watching the movie, my daughter at some point said "Buddha does not know if God exists or not". I answered "Yes he does", and then she said "mum said it". I just reaffirmed "Yes he does", but inside my head I found that a bit disturbing... That looks a bit like underhand technique, but once again these are the things that backfires with time... I will just leave that aside.

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Re: Help! How to raise a child in an inter-faith marriage?

Postby Sanghamitta » Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:34 pm

I have heard Luang Por Sumedho say several times when talking to parents.." it is important to remember that there are no born Buddhists, its always a fresh Going For Refuge "
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

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Re: Help! How to raise a child in an inter-faith marriage?

Postby andre9999 » Tue Feb 21, 2012 11:06 pm

Yeah, I'm bumping the thread, but you're all buddhists so you'll be cool with it. :)

My wife has been Christian much of her life, and has turned it up a notch in the last 6-8 months by going to an Evangelical church. I have a son who is four years old. He has a bible, they say their prayers before bed, and he attends church preschool on Sundays.

My feeling on it all is "so what?" The people I meet at that church, compared to many of the atheists that I know and am related to, are generally happier, are more caring and loving, and are more giving. And frankly, I find those qualities to be highly desirable to be around.

My job as a father, as I see it, is not to teach my son Buddhism, nor is it to refute monotheism. My duty to him is to teach him to be empathic, loving, and some level of non-attachment in order live a happier, fuller life. If him learning about Jesus gets him further down that path, than I think that's great. Better than the materialism, violence, and sex that seems to be more of the norm in the US these days.

I wish you luck. It can be a challenge, I know.
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Re: Help! How to raise a child in an inter-faith marriage?

Postby DarwidHalim » Wed Feb 22, 2012 1:09 am

I think it is not a problem and can be very useful actually.

Since kindergarten until university, all my schools are Catholic schools. Every morning before the school start, prayin to Jesus and after the end of the class, praying to Maria.

I also like a church, particularly catholic church. I don't know why. Just like to be there, not for pray, just enjoying the atmosphere.

However, I was born in Buddhist family, which makes me familiar with Buddha, Boddhisattva etc. So, at home when I was a kid, my mum asked me to pray.

However, my parents have no problem if I want to go to Catholic. I remember when I was 8 years old I really wanted to have a bible. The school suddenly gave all students A free bible. So, I read a few pages in front, and afterwards that desire disappear and never bother to read it again, except in the school due to catholic lesson.

Only when I was about 15 years old, there is a strong feeling it is time to find out what is the true Buddhism. Since then, in my university, where I have the access to get the material, the journey started.

As long as your children have the access to Buddhism equally, get used to pray, don't feel Buddhism is something strange, in the future, they will go to Buddhism if Buddhist philosophy make sense to them. They will also more open to different religion and different views inside Buddhism in the future.

In case, they end up with catholic or christianity, it is also no problem. It is just not their time in this life.

Most important I think is yourself, because they will see how Buddhism can affect their lives through you as the living example.
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
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