Bakmoon wrote:This is the right way to go about it in my humble opinion. Like Darkestmatter said, it's all about choice. If you don't try to push Buddhism on your daughter, but just make it available to her when she is interested, Buddhism will be much more appealing to her. Just keep presenting the parts of Buddhism that are the easiest for a child to understand and she will decide to become (or not to become) a Buddhist latter on. The best way to teach her that I can think of are just some of the basic bits of the Gradual Training laid out by the Buddha. Traditionally they are the teachings on generosity, virtue, heaven, drawbacks, renunciation, and the four noble truths, but I'd just focus on generosity, virtue, drawbacks, and renunciation, because when presented in the right way, they are seen as universal truths rather than religious truths.
You could present it by talking about how being kind to others and not harming other living beings leads to happiness, and how material things don't lead to real happiness; that true happiness comes from within. Just stick to these sorts of general life lessons, and your daughter will benefit from it even if she never becomes Buddhist because she will have valuable life lessons from her father.
That's very sensible, I'll follow this advice. Thank you for your input!
manas wrote:The fear of eternal hell-fire - most irrationally, on the basis of the actions of just one lifetime - actually harmed my emotional well-being as a child, and only as an adult did I decisively purge the last bit of that belief from my mind. If, somehow, you can even just prevent your dear little one from acquiring that particular fear, you will have done well.
Actually, there are quite a few (ex) catholics in my weekly dhamma class. Those who are just beginning on the buddhist path are really struggling with their past indoctrination. This is sad...
This week-end, she invited a born-again christian at our home. On Sunday, just before they were all going to church, I was upstairs in my little office and I heard the guy downstairs saying to my daughter that science proved the existence of god. I decided not to go downstairs to give my point of view because the guy had been nice all these days and he probably just said that without really knowing what he was talking about (and he clearly left school very early). So I waited for my daughter to come upstairs, then I told her that science didn't prove the existence of god and science didn't prove the inexistence of god either.
Then my wife asked me what did I say to our daughter, and I answered. She got upset, saying that I am trying to convince her that god does not exists, etc. I replied that this guy said a statement that is not factual and I rectifed that with a statement that is factual. Then she got really upset, saying "what's the use of saying that to her while her mother tells me she believes in god", how can I not see Jesus making miracles, I should use my intelligence to see that god exists (!), etc.
I kept quiet and she calmed down a bit, then she started some discussions about how buddhism spread, she wanted to convince me that buddhism is as evangelical as christianity
She mentionned that christians are persecuted in Burma and Sri Lanka. I explained to her what is the actual political situation in Burma, that many communities are persecuted there (she didn't know that a military junta was in power, that monks walked in the street in 2007 and were imprisoned and killed for that, that ethnic minorities were persectued in the borders of Burma, etc.) Then she asked me if there is a military junta in power in Sri Lanka!!! She really does not know what she is talking about.
It's so sad.
A couple of days later, I told her that I can't understand that if a stranger tells unfactual statement to a child, the mother approves and that if the father of the child tells factual statements the same mother disapproves. I also used a lot of what she said during that day to show her how her mind works: how she modifies what I say and put words in my mouth, how she ignores some information, how she applies double-standards, how she believes without questioning the smallest piece of information provided that it goes with her beliefs, etc. I never criticised christianity per se, yet I received a block response of bitterness and anger. She just felt attacked in her beliefs and just defended herself without addressing any of the point I made.
I thought I could help her open her eyes on some of her behaviours, but that's hopeless. I thought because it would not touch her religion directly, she might be a bit more open, but not at all. I think she is now more closed-minded than ever, she can't even see obvious flaws in the way she thinks.
So I realise the hard way that you can't change someone, especially if that someone is entrenched in strong beliefs. Things that are absolutely obvious to an outsider are completely transformed in the mind of such a person. Just an example: if I say that science didn't prove the existence of god, that means I am teaching that god does not exist...
Anyway, life goes on! I am much more detached on these issues now compared to half a year ago!
This morning, my daughter came to meditate with me again!
The truth is, I don't even care if my daughter wants to stay christian, become a buddhist, muslim, atheist or whatever. I just want her to grow up knowing why she is making certain choices and why she believes what she believes.