Happy Parents, Happy Kids

An excerpt from a new book on parenting in the 21st century.

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In the following excerpt from Happy Parents, Happy Kids, SGI President Ikeda discusses embracing difficulties as parents.

Nurturing an Indestructible Heart

There is no society free from difficulties. Similarly, there is no family without problems. It might seem easy if you had everything you wanted, but then we could not establish genuine happiness. You should instead willingly embrace any problem or setback and make your way serenely in life with robust optimism.

If you can overcome hardships and trials without being discouraged by temporary ups and downs, both you and your children can nurture an indestructible strength of heart. The foundation for this is prayer. Parents pray for their children and the children respond to that prayer, and in this way parents and children grow together. We must not forget to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. We must never forget the basics.

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Approaching Everything with Joy and Vigor

It is important that parents approach everything with joy and vigor. By observing such parents, children will naturally grow to think and learn things on their own. When facing troubles, human beings tend to want to escape and seek pleasant surroundings and an easier life somewhere else. But happiness cannot be found elsewhere; it is found only in our own hearts. A genuine way of life consists of transforming the place we are right now into a supreme paradise. In fact, it is when we are busy that our lives are most fulfilled. It is when we are earnestly challenging our problems that we feel spirited. To work for a purpose is itself happiness. Your actions will convey to your child your beliefs and convictions.

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The Loftiest Act as a Human Being

Fostering people is not easy. It may be extremely exhausting at times. But we cannot really raise anyone if we do not exert ourselves to the fullest. Nichiren Daishonin states, “Life is limited; we must not begrudge it” (“Aspiration for the Buddha Land,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 214). Therefore, the purpose for which we use our lives is crucial. I believe that raising people is the loftiest act a human being can engage in.

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Endurance, Patience and Painstaking Effort

We are living in a time when people seek convenience and efficiency. This being the case, you may feel as if child rearing is the least convenient and the least efficient thing to do. I believe this is one reason many young parents today find raising their children to be so stressful. Human beings cannot be measured in terms of efficiency. Endurance and patience are required to raise a child. Above all fostering another human being requires painstaking effort. It is only a matter of course that things do not unfold as you expect. In raising children or fostering capable people, you cannot expect to gain great results with little effort.

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A Undefeated Spirit

Life and Buddhism are reason. One cannot climb to the summit of a mountain in an instant. First Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi encouraged us to plant our feet firmly on the ground and advance one step at a time. Creating happiness and developing our state of life requires such realistic, steady, step-by-step efforts. You must not be swept away by the constantly shifting winds of life. Rather, it is only by directly facing and running against those winds that you can reach your destination. When you reach an impasse, you must first pray and then take action. By repeating this process, you can forge your human capacity and cultivate unbeatable strength. What is important is to have an undefeated spirit. When you make a profound determination to live your life fulfilling your noble mission for kosen-rufu together with your children, everything will move in a positive direction.

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Winning in the End

Even if we practice Buddhism, we will encounter a variety of problems in the course of our lives. Storms of karma may appear unexpectedly at home, at work, or with our children. But it is by overcoming each hardship that we achieve human revolution and change the karma of our entire family. In fact, such moments are opportunities to make a significant leap forward toward greater happiness. Life is a long journey, and so we will surely win at times and lose at others. There is no need to feel embarrassed about a temporary setback. The important thing is to win in the end. The key is to never lose our fighting spirit, no matter how challenging our situation. (Happy Parents, Happy Kids, pp. 29–32)