Buddha’s 5 Rules For Raising Great Children
Parents the world over often wonder how to raise their children in the right way; after all, the task is far from easy. Many times, parents who are a little more alternative tend to look to the ancient wisdom they’ve used to guide their lives. This is a great idea! Teachers like Buddha have influenced people for generations and helped countless people find deeper meaning.
And perhaps this makes the most sense as well, as his teachings are so universal. But there’s just one problem with this: most ancient wisdom lacks advice on raising children. So why is that? Could it be that a teacher like Buddha, who talked about nearly every subject of the human condition, forgot? The truth may surprise you — Buddha didn’t have to. The Buddhist approach to raising children is actually the path Buddha laid out; because when we follow the path, everything falls into place…including parenthood. Here’s how.
SEE ALSO: Buddha’s 6 Rules Of Love
“However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act on upon them?”
Children do not learn from the 1,000 things we say. They learn from how we are: how we comport ourselves, how we behave, how we deal with our life – that is what they suck up with their open, curious minds. If we put on a spiritual show, they will pierce it with a knife. If we call ourselves buddhists, talking about compassion and wisdom, but act like neurotic, self-centered, New Age seekers, they’re likely to have absolutely no interest in our spiritual tradition. If we have the courage to find out what our children think of our spiritual practice, the feedback may not be pretty.
2) Personal Practice
“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”
Without a doubt, the most important aspect of raising a smart, emotionally intelligent child is your own example. But how do you do that? With your own practice, obviously. Mindfulness practice is how we place our mind in a cradle of loving kindness. We take our posture in meditation and rest our minds on the breath, seeing and recognizing our thoughts and emotions without judgment and connecting to the basic, open, unconditioned nature of mind, beyond our individual hopes and fears. This practice is essential when sharing your life with your children.
“To live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one’s own in the midst of abundance.”
The biggest ‘ask’ of adults when becoming a parent is surrender; surrendering peace and quiet, good sleep, nights on the town, and generally just being our normal selfish selves. We have to allow children to be children, and that can be hard on us. Without surrender, parenthood is a constant struggle to hold on to our territory, with the little monsters doing all they can to break into the castle of our ego. Children cannot be managed; they must be nurtured. If we want to raise our children well, we have to consider surrendering our personal economic goals, our speed, our constant desire to have more and be successful .
4) Let Go
“The heart is like a garden. It can grow compassion or fear, resentment or love. What seeds will you plant there?”
Mindfulness opens the door to letting children discover who they are. We might think they need to be a banker, artist, spiritual, rich, etc. But that’s what WE want, and may not have anything to do with what the child wants. Through our mindfulness and awareness, we can create a space of loving kindness and acceptance, in which we can actually work with patterns at hand. If our child is having a fit, rather than being embarrassed or angry, we see the pain or longing, and it genuinely touches our heart. And we can let it be there – we do not have to push it away.
5) The Mundane is Sacred
“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”
The reality is that children are completely in the moment. They don’t know — or understand — our experience of Buddhism, spirituality, business, or the economy. Their experience, their entire world, is the house. If we want to make a huge impact on children, we have to start there. If we regard our daily life with mindfulness, cooking, and food as a chance to nourish, clothes as a chance to protect, we can appreciate the sacredness in our existence. Children will feel this immediately – this magic of the sacredness of the household situation is fertilizer for their inner growth.
This has nothing to do with a ‘traditional’ household, and everything to do with our surrounding environment and how we relate to it.
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