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:
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.