How to explain death/rebirth to a child?

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How to explain death/rebirth to a child?

Postby Butrfly_Nirvana » Mon Jan 25, 2010 4:40 pm

While I've found several articles and excerpts helpful in explaining to myself (and I agree with them), I was wondering how do I translate all of that into something a child could comprehend? What is the best way to explain it without causing more confusion? I don't think my children will understand consciousness, and all of that... Basically I get questions like "can I come back as an animal?" "will I remember mommy and daddy?" etc. If we are 'soul-less', then what are we (in terms they can sort of grasp)...? Sorry if this is posted elsewhere! Also, if there is a children's book on the topic I'd love to find one!

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Re: How to explain death/rebirth to a child?

Postby Abyss » Mon Jan 25, 2010 4:57 pm

Maybe the Jataka tales are what you want. They are quite suitable for children and have a moral.
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Re: How to explain death/rebirth to a child?

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Jan 25, 2010 5:17 pm

maybe this will help!
http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/buddhism/index.htm

but do you understand these or accept?
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Re: How to explain death/rebirth to a child?

Postby Reductor » Mon Jan 25, 2010 5:23 pm

Abyss wrote:Maybe the Jataka tales are what you want. They are quite suitable for children and have a moral.


Also:

http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/jataka_tv1.pdf
http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/jt/index.htm

How old are the kids?

I don't know that a kid under, say, 10 would really understand rebirth. There are a lot of adults that don't understand rebirth. But all children should learn about death (keep 'em in line, buwahahaha). Just keep it gentle by pointing out death when it is visible. Explain that all things end: like day turns to night, so life changes to death. Encourage kids to observe the first precept. When they take to stomping bugs, ask them questions in an attempt to get them to empathize with the bugs, and with those that have died. My own young kids understood, and then became protective of small animals. They begin to understand that things die, and that all beings want to avoid death. Important lessons.

As for rebirth, I would depersonalize the idea if they're really young. Don't teach them that 'they' will be reborn. Teach about how other beings are reborn, and how principals of virtue affect such things. When they get old enough to form conclusions of their own, then talk about it.

EDIT: I keep adding to this. Sorry.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: How to explain death/rebirth to a child?

Postby Kim OHara » Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:03 pm

thereductor wrote:EDIT: I keep adding to this. Sorry.

Don't apologise - you're doing really well. :smile:
Your point about the age of the children is particularly important. It has to be really simple if they are under 5. They might just understand a phrase like 'the part of you that makes you yourself' at about that age and understand that it continues in some way. Anything much more than that - particularly the difference between Buddhist and Christian beliefs about what happens after death - won't make sense to them until they are, as you say, at least 10.
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Re: How to explain death/rebirth to a child?

Postby Butrfly_Nirvana » Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:08 pm

Thank you all for your help! I know this is all going to be very useful. My kids are 7, 3 and 1..so still fairly young, but around here adults like to make references to "God", "Jesus" etc, so I wanted to be sure my kids had a solid education in that respect. While I try to deter people from talking to my kids about that stuff, I know that it's my job to guide them at home first.


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Re: How to explain death/rebirth to a child?

Postby Reductor » Tue Jan 26, 2010 3:08 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:
thereductor wrote:EDIT: I keep adding to this. Sorry.

Don't apologise - you're doing really well. :smile:



Thanks. I appreciate that.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: How to explain death/rebirth to a child?

Postby Ben » Tue Jan 26, 2010 4:48 am

Hi Butrfly_Nirvana
Our family had an experience nearly a year ago when a much loved family pet was euthanized.
When we talked to our eight-year-old son we just gave him the facts in a loving and supportive way.
It was a traumatic experience and I didn't think it was the right time to introduce causality and rebirth and either confuse him or give him false hope from an incomplete understanding. When he is a little older and a little more capable of understanding the subtleties of the Dhamma, I'll introduce it to him.
I hope that is of benefit.

Ben
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Re: How to explain death/rebirth to a child?

Postby Butrfly_Nirvana » Tue Jan 26, 2010 2:51 pm

Ben: Thank you for your help.

I guess one of my worries is that living where we do teachers often allow their beliefs to enter into their teaching lessons. But I suppose we'll cross those bridges as we get to them!
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Re: How to explain death/rebirth to a child?

Postby PeterB » Tue Jan 26, 2010 3:02 pm

Good idea Buterfly Nirvana. I think with younger children there are topics where we should be led by them, in other words answer their questions as they are asked, And answer them truthfully but simply. I dont often quote Richard Dawkins.....but I dont think we should condition our children into belief systems, and at a young age that is all Rebirth can be , a belief. There's plenty of time for that later.

:anjali:
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Re: How to explain death/rebirth to a child?

Postby notself » Tue Jan 26, 2010 10:05 pm

Take your child to see Lion King or rent the DVD. The circle of life is rebirth. You don't have to get into why one wants to end rebirth until much much later.
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: How to explain death/rebirth to a child?

Postby Ben » Tue Jan 26, 2010 10:42 pm

Hi Butrfly_Nirvana,

Butrfly_Nirvana wrote:Ben: Thank you for your help.

I guess one of my worries is that living where we do teachers often allow their beliefs to enter into their teaching lessons. But I suppose we'll cross those bridges as we get to them!


Especially while they are young, I think you will have a greater impact on your kids development and understanding of the world than your children's teachers. You will just need to counter any embedded Christian message that your kids come home with. And you can counter it by encouraging your kids to think for themselves, to question everything but also explain that some people believe in things in the absence of any evidence. In your other thread I said something about teaching my kids that a belief in God or Jesus is no different to a belief in the easter bunny. People believe in those things to make themselves feel a bit better. And believing in something doesn't make it right or real. If you've got a great relationship with your kids, which I am sure you have, they'll listen to you.
metta

Ben
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- Hereclitus


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Re: How to explain death/rebirth to a child?

Postby bodom » Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:02 am

notself wrote:Take your child to see Lion King or rent the DVD. The circle of life is rebirth. You don't have to get into why one wants to end rebirth until much much later.


Excellent advice.

:anjali:
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: How to explain death/rebirth to a child?

Postby notself » Wed Jan 27, 2010 4:29 am

:anjali:
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: How to explain death/rebirth to a child?

Postby Butrfly_Nirvana » Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:44 pm

Thank you all so much! I can't believe I didn't think of the Lion King! lol

So many great suggestions and thoughts!

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