Craig and Devra Morton
Builder and Psychotherapist
When we go to sitting meditation our son, who’s five-and-a-half, goes and sits there and either reads a book or eats something, and he also puts Goldfish in the Buddha’s hand. We try to let him know that he shouldn’t try to be anything other than what he is. We have a belief that all religions basically are getting to the same point, and the important thing is just that he feels that end point, where we’re all going. We’re addressing the spiritual side of him right now—an “ism” isn’t important.
Day Care and Preschool Program Director
I mainly teach my children about not killing, not causing suffering, to help them develop lovingkindness toward every being.
Before they go to sleep, we do a little meditation, a visualization of Shakyamuni Buddha. I imagine with them that they are filled with light that washes out all the things that have been difficult during the day—disappointments, jealousy, anger—and that they are filled with understanding, wisdom, and awareness of the Buddha.
I try to help them realize that they can actually do something about the world, that they have the power to make a difference. Before we have snacks, we imagine that we’re feeding all the hungry animals, or all the people in the world.
Reverend Sukha Linda Murray
Zen Buddhist Temple
Ann Arbor, Michigan
I’ve raised my daughters in the temple, but whether they will eventually be Buddhist or not will be up to them. They’ve definitely been influenced by the people in our sangha. I don’t think that any of that guarantees that they’ll be buddhist. I just hope they will be happy and peaceful and functional people who can make their way.
Reverend Ryuken Akahoshi
The Nichiren Buddhist Church of Portland
Because my son Jason, 5, was born the child of a Buddhist minister, he must have certain reasons why he was born into this world Buddhist. We would like to lead him to the Buddhist way, so have to try to give him as many opportunities as possible to see how Buddhists should be living in this world. When he grows up, if he chooses by himself to become a Buddhist priest and to help other people with Buddhism, that would make us very happy.
Counselor and Vipassana teacher
I haven’t raised my children “Buddhist,” but they have certainly picked it up by osmosis. Each of my four children has taken an interest in a particular quality that the Buddha inspired us to cultivate. My 25 year old son, has the quality of faith with wisdom, not just a blind faith. One daughter, has the quality of investigation. My oldest daughter is interested in the laws of cause and effect, or karma, and the youngest, is very open and has spacious acceptance in her mind and heart. Yet though I am Buddhist, if you would ask my children what religion they are, they would say Christian.
In my understanding of Buddhism, raising my children Buddhist is not forcing anyone to be anything. I offer a place, and I give my children a chance to sit, but I don’t say, “You have to sit.” I once asked my seventeen-year-old, Taylor, whether when he goes to the meditation room and sits, does he ever feel a little calmer? And he said, “Even just walking into the room makes me calmer.”
Iowa City, Iowa
As parents, we meditate and make offerings to the Buddha at our altar in our basement. Sometimes our daughter sits with us and she thinks she is meditating. Sometimes she jumps on our backs.
We have a Buddhist gathering once a week and sometimes a monk will be there and she will call him “shiny-head.” I think she knows that he has much to teach her. Once a month, our Buddhist group makes a dinner for the Salvation Army, and that is also like a big party for her.
We hope she will learn about our practices, but we hope she makes her own choices.
Counselor and Therapist
It means not forcing. Simply let them learn by observation and by being treated right. Like a lot of people, I was raised with a lot of things being shoved down my throat. Strange things happpen. One time in a world history class in high school, the teacher said if any of you know of anyone who follows another religion, please invite them to class to speak. My daughter said, “I know some Buddhsits, can I get extra credit?” I went in and talked and the teacher was very enthusiastic. “My next class is half Mormon,” she said, “Can you talk to them, too?”
My son is less interested. He’s scientificallly oriented, and in talking about karma, I call it “cause and effect.” Recently he told me, “The only real thing I believe in is karma,” even though I never used that word with him. I don’t think coercion is something anyone needs anyway.
Weng Seng Yu
United Parcel Service Delivery Person
Queens, New York
Everbody can be a Buddhist, and everybody can become Buddha. Our children, our grandchildren, our great–great–grandchildren. I have not pushed my children to go with a religion, but because it is a part of our culture, we have always gone to the temple. Our children have grown up that way. When we go to the temple we feel happy being there, and where there is safety, where there is friendliness, where it is enjoyable, that is the place I hope they will continue to go.
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