Raising Buddhist Children part 2

Letter to Buddha

I felt like writing this for a while, but since the Buddha’s Birthday is coming April 8th, I felt like writing it now. A long time ago, I wrote this post about raising Buddhist children, but now that my daughter is 6 years old, it’s interesting to see how things have changed.

My daughter feels pressure sometimes from classmates from different religions, but at the same time she wants to enjoy holidays like Christmas and Easter like any kid in America. She once asked me if she had to believe in Jesus, for example. We told her that she doesn’t have to if she doesn’t want to, and she seemed really relieved. We told her she could “believe” in Buddha instead and she said she wanted to do that.

For some reason, she is really interested in Buddhism in general. When she was a tiny baby, she used to put her hands together when she saw a Buddhist statue on TV. Also, when we go to Japan, she enjoys going with Daddy to visit Buddhist temples, and leave coins in the donation boxes:

Daughter making donation

At home, she likes to pretend sometimes that she is a priest, and does her own service. She even made her own donation box once. As a “priest” she pretends to chant in Japanese, rings the bell, and gives people rosaries. Also, as I mentioned recently, she likes to make Buddhist things out of origami.

But the letter above was something new. She saw me doing my usual “Sunday service” at home by myself, and decided to write a letter and leave it on the little altar at home.

I think she has had a lot of positive experiences in Japan and seeing Buddhist temples, and spending time with Daddy, so this gives her a foundation. She thinks of the Buddha as a nice teacher, and she likes to do “Buddhist” things. Parents have a lot of influence over their children, so it’s important to have a good religious foundation yourself, so your kids will learn it too.

This is especially important when she becomes a teenager, because she will feel a lot of pressure to “fit in” and be like others, so she might change her mind. I want her to freely explore, but I worry about the pressure though. Being different is hard as a teenager, and I hope that the lessons and positive memories she has from her youth help give her a foundation for the future.

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Author: Doug

A fellow who dwells upon the Pale Blue Dot who spends his days obsessing over things like Buddhism, KPop music, foreign languages, BSD UNIX and science fiction.

2 thoughts on “Raising Buddhist Children part 2”

  1. It seems to me that a Buddhist can “believe” in Jesus in their own way even if a Christian is not supposed to believe in Buddha. So desu-ne? This merits a very long discussion, I suppose, not a post of a few sentences…. I’ve always wondered if “thou shalt have no other gods before me” should mean “none superior to me”! In any case, Buddha is not a god. In Theravadin Buddhism, with which I am becoming familiar in Burma, there are not the complications with belief that arise with Mahayana and even more, it seems, with Vajrayana. But I’m just starting to learn about Buddhism, sadly: I wish I’d have a whole lifetime (or lifetimes….)

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    1. Hello ad welcome,

      I think you might have misunderstood this post. My daughter doesn’t want to believe on Jesus but feels compelled to by classmates who keep talking about it. I wanted to reassure her she doesn’t have to, and that Buddhism functions just fine without him.

      As for Mahayana Buddhism, what are the complications you speak of?

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