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Switch to Forum Live View Introducing Children To Buddhism
9 years ago  ::  Feb 17, 2009 - 12:07PM #1
Free2beme09
Posts: 733
I was looking for ways to incorporate Buddhism in my home with my children.  The difficult feat is that my children are already habitual in their behavior.  i.e. Desires, ego, ideas on what causes their suffering, etc. 

I walked away from Christianity many years ago, and last year finally let go t-totally of the religion I was born into.  My friend turned me onto the Eightfold Path in Buddhism.  I am still working hard to learn more and realize that it will take years to master, & i have also heard a lifetime.  I have a lot of work to do but it has changed my life.  I have went off all meds, worries and concerns are disappearing, and I have found happiness in the face of chaos.  I would like to incorporate some of the Buddhist teachings in my children's lives.  I am looking for ideas that would be classified as a beginner level.

I have read how important it is to teach children about Buddha very young.   What are your suggestions when you have children who have already been subjected to the bondage of religion, the world, and society? 

My daughter is 14 1/2, and I have two sons 8 & 11.  I appreciate you taking the time to respond in advance.  I hover quite a bit around this forum. & I appreciate all of the wisdom that is posted here.   

I look forward to all responses. 

Peace be with you.
Religion is for those afraid of hell.  Spirituality is had by those who have been there!
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9 years ago  ::  Feb 18, 2009 - 4:47AM #2
snowmelt
Posts: 12

free2beme09 wrote:

I was looking for ways to incorporate Buddhism in my home with my children.


I often recall interesting or funny stories about Buddhist nuns and monks and relate them to my children, (for instance, the one about the monk who, no matter what injustices were done to him by the people in his village, would only ever smile and say, "okay", his inner peace completely undisturbed).

free2beme09 wrote:

The difficult feat is that my children are already habitual in their behavior.  i.e. Desires, ego, ideas on what causes their suffering, etc.


Having myself to a large extent given up looking for happiness in worldly things, I sometimes make fun (very gently) of my children's predilections. For example, my 15-year-old son was very upset one morning because his sister got Crunchy Nut Cornflakes and he only got Wheat Biscuits. I smiled a little and quietly said, "good to know you're focussing on the big issues in life". This got a small smile from him in return. You have to judge each situation on its own merits, of course. :)

free2beme09 wrote:

I walked away from Christianity many years ago, and last year finally let go t-totally of the religion I was born into.  My friend turned me onto the Eightfold Path in Buddhism.  I am still working hard to learn more and realize that it will take years to master, & i have also heard a lifetime.  I have a lot of work to do but it has changed my life.  I have went off all meds, worries and concerns are disappearing, and I have found happiness in the face of chaos.  I would like to incorporate some of the Buddhist teachings in my children's lives.  I am looking for ideas that would be classified as a beginner level.


I always love hearing about someone who is getting some peace and happiness from Buddhism. I wish you well in your quest.

I have tried to talk to my kids about some aspects of Buddhism directly, with uncertain results. I think they don't really get it. I comfort myself by thinking, at least I can show them the beneficence of Buddhism through my own behaviour: I used to be a *very* angry person, and this aspect of my personality has now all but disappeared, due to Buddhism. My kids have told their mother that it is as if I changed into a completely different person. I think they understand that Buddhism is responsible, and that has got to be a tremendously positive recommendation.

free2beme09 wrote:

I have read how important it is to teach children about Buddha very young.   What are your suggestions when you have children who have already been subjected to the bondage of religion, the world, and society?


Primarily what I have said above, I think. Perhaps others may have some other good suggestions.

With loving-kindness,

Andrew

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9 years ago  ::  Feb 18, 2009 - 7:44AM #3
costrel
Posts: 6,227

free2beme09 wrote:

I was looking for ways to incorporate Buddhism in my home with my children. The difficult feat is that my children are already habitual in their behavior. i.e. Desires, ego, ideas on what causes their suffering, etc.

I walked away from Christianity many years ago, and last year finally let go t-totally of the religion I was born into. My friend turned me onto the Eightfold Path in Buddhism. I am still working hard to learn more and realize that it will take years to master, & i have also heard a lifetime. I have a lot of work to do but it has changed my life. I have went off all meds, worries and concerns are disappearing, and I have found happiness in the face of chaos. I would like to incorporate some of the Buddhist teachings in my children's lives. I am looking for ideas that would be classified as a beginner level.

I have read how important it is to teach children about Buddha very young. What are your suggestions when you have children who have already been subjected to the bondage of religion, the world, and society?

My daughter is 14 1/2, and I have two sons 8 & 11. I appreciate you taking the time to respond in advance. I hover quite a bit around this forum. & I appreciate all of the wisdom that is posted here.

I look forward to all responses.

Peace be with you.


I'm not a Buddhist, but I did know a number of Buddhists when I lived in Japan. Based on what I've observed, a good way of incorporating Buddhism into the family home is through the celebration of Buddhist holidays.

One of the most-effective ways might be to start practicing Buddhist values in the home. For instance, many of the Japanese do not kill any insects or spiders that they find in the house, but carefully capture them and relocate them outside. Through this action, children can see that all life should be treated with respect.

You may also want to take the children to some kind of annual retreat at a Buddhist monastery, or some other Buddhist retreat center.

Also, you might want to check out The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism, as it has a section entitled "Family Sangha, and Dharma for Kids," as well as information on Buddhist parenting. I haven't read it, but selected pages of it are available on Google Books. Clicking on the following link should take you to the Dharma for Kids section, with the parenting section above it and a section on Buddhist education right after it, though not all of the pages are available for reading here: http://books.google.com/books?id=arEFgU … r+children.

One thing I would not do is try to force Buddhism upon the children. They are quite old already (especially the 11 and 14 year-olds) and they may not be interested in Buddhism, especially if they already have their own non-Buddhist religious identities. (It sounds like they already have received non-Buddhist religious instruction.)

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9 years ago  ::  Feb 18, 2009 - 7:28PM #4
RenGalskap
Posts: 1,420
A quick Google search using "Buddhism" & "children" turns up the following:

link -> Access to Insight FAQ (question on raising kids)
link -> Article in Tricycle on raising kids
link -> BuddhaNet eBooks for Children

I suggest trying the same search and seeing if any of the other links are of any interest to you.
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9 years ago  ::  Feb 18, 2009 - 7:28PM #5
RenGalskap
Posts: 1,420
A quick Google search using "Buddhism" & "children" turns up the following:

link -> Access to Insight FAQ (question on raising kids)
link -> Article in Tricycle on raising kids
link -> BuddhaNet eBooks for Children

I suggest trying the same search and seeing if any of the other links are of any interest to you.
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9 years ago  ::  Feb 20, 2009 - 6:15AM #6
Cinorjer
Posts: 124
At 8 years old and more, the best thing you can do for them is set them down and have a discussion about the changes in your life and how important it is to you that they understand.  Be prepared to answer their questions, and when they ask some you don't know the answer to (and of course they will) be honest and say you don't know. 

Confine your explaining of Buddhism to the life story of Buddha (it's like a fairy tale, after all), some of the basic history of the religion as it spread around the world, and 4 Noble Truths.  What they really will want is to know how this effects them!  What strange new rules am I going to have to live by in the family?  Do we start going to a temple on Sunday?  That sort of thing. 

Do have a few rules you expect them to live by, so they know there really is a change.  The precepts are a good place to go.  That means you also promise them to follow the same rules.  And I'd ask them to help by telling you if they think you're breaking one of them. 

Good luck on the journey.  If you put effort into your own path, you will be setting an example and that's what is most important.
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9 years ago  ::  Mar 03, 2009 - 6:14PM #7
New_mnt_man
Posts: 29

I'm new to Buddhism, but I will also be training my children.  I was recently training them in New Thought, but I had a falling out regarding New Thought (religious science) and now figure that leaves Buddhism without any other good choices left.  : )  Although I have been interested in Buddhism -- bought some books anyways -- for years.


One thing I learned regarding the New Thought church is my kids loved to do a silent "Labryinth" walking meditation.  Although it wasn't really meditation for them, it was walking a maze.  (The labryinth the church uses is a giant canvas with a printed maze, kind of like a mandala looking thing, with an empty circle in the middle which is the end of the maze sort of, where they would put a candle and you could sit and meditate in the center also.


At any rate they loved that thing and walked endlessly.  Faster than your average adult, you know how kids are always racing each other, but they did it nonetheless, and as such I think it served as a good *training ground* for later meditation when they are older.


I think that is the key.  A practicioner at the church would have the kids do meditation, but just for about 5 minutes, and he would tell them there was a mouse living in the room and if they listened carefully, they might be able to hear the mouse.  He claimed that when the children got a bit older, closer to your kids age (I am talking elementary school age in this example,) they'd be able to learn meditation because of the prior foundational work they had with the listening for the mouse.


So perhaps that is the best approach is to ramp children up to be able to meditate when they are mature enough.  Walking meditation I think they would enjoy.  And the funny thing is kids are already into the present moment, while it is us grown ups that are not.  So in a way, they should be teaching us IMO. 

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9 years ago  ::  Mar 08, 2009 - 11:53AM #8
bshmr
Posts: 14

Useful zen, as opposed to the pedantic or annoying kind, makes distinction between 'learning' and 'knowing'. Far more empathises has been placed on the first, and in my opinion too little on the second. At this stage of the discussion, one can clearly teach the value of 'buddhism', which already must be obvious to her children, by example, with understanding inherent in 'knowing'. Yet most seem focused on the 'learning' of history, dogma, and ritual as though the path is solely the 'sixth sense' of mind. Crudely, lay buddhism is much more desirable and sale-able when it is practiced skillfully, or so seems to me; so, I suggest practicing the Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path (as an eight-spoked wheel, not a roadway), the Three Jewels (even as individual, collective wisdom, and community), vipassana, and so on. Children learn (common usage) from the adults whom they around, more so than each other, as they have for millenniums.

Other than that, since childhood, I value a style of Native American moral teaching which relies on animal fable (exemplified by the "Owl & Skunk" and the "Boy & Snake"). The emotions, actions, and consequences are more lucid than in tales about persons. Some of the 'Jakarta Tales' (versions vary a bit) are in this style, as are other primitive, holistic mythologies. I will add that the human-based stories confuse young minds as the characters' names are also 'inappropriately' given to real persons .

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9 years ago  ::  Mar 08, 2009 - 6:58PM #9
Dharma66
Posts: 18

I've been practicing Buddhism for 15 years. I have 2 sons aged 19 and 15. One of my sons follows the Buddhist path, one doesn't follow any religion. The thing is that as Buddhists, we don't try to indoctrinate our kids. When they are little like yours, the best thing is to teach them Buddha's life story. You can add in a children's meditation at bedtime to replace bedtime prayers. My sons came from a strange background. My husband was Catholic and they used to attend Mass with my mother-in-law. Then they came home to me meditating and offering prayers at my home altar. I had been following a Buddhist path for some 15 years but took the Refuge Ceremony 7 years ago. The Four Noble Truths are a great place to begin teaching Dharma and buddhanet.net has some great kids books as well as some books for older kids as well. The most important thing is to let them see you practicing and discussions about why you chose Buddhism helps as well. Most important though is to never develop a judgemental attitude about other religions. Even though they may not be effective for you, it is important that your children know that they are important and helpful to others. And in the end, your children have to make a choice that is right for them. They have to find their own path.

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9 years ago  ::  Mar 08, 2009 - 7:08PM #10
Utilyan
Posts: 7,300

I would introduce them to.....STAR WARS.


 


Man star wars is the best buddhist movie.


 


Be mindfull of your feelings padawan....


 


Don't center on your anxieties.......  Master yoda says I should be mindful of the future.......Not at the expense of the present moment......keep your mind here and now where it belongs! 


 


 

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