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Daily Life

On Raising Healthy Children

For decades, Ikeda Sensei has spoken with and offered advice to parents and children around the world about creating harmonious families. In Happy Parents Happy Kids, we take a look at his encouragement on family and parenting (pp. 45–48).

Our profound love brings forth abundant wisdom.

My mother was always concerned about what she fed her children. She had no particular expertise in the field of nutrition. When I think back, however, she was always attentive to her growing children, and I am always profoundly grateful to her. We were by no means well off; the family seaweed business had sustained major damage in the earthquake that struck Tokyo in 1923. My mother used her ingenuity, however, providing us with cheap yet nutritious food. She came up with ways to get us to eat fish, telling us to “eat them bones and all.” Often we ate raw seaweed, the family specialty, pickled with vinegar. She would say to us that we could avoid contagious diseases if we ate one salted Japanese plum every day. No doubt this was her heartfelt prayer. Our meals were not sumptuous, but her attention to detail, her thoroughness, benefits my life even now. My mother had no particular methodology. But, like all mothers of this world, her profound love let her bring forth abundant wisdom. She was a simple, ordinary, wonderful mother. Today, many mothers hold down jobs and are extremely busy with many roles and responsibilities. I always try to be aware of their struggles. But even if you are not always with your children at meals, or cannot prepare them yourself, it is important to devise creative ways to make the best of your situation.

Establishing a consistent rhythm in daily life is an important challenge for parents.

Growing children need, more than anything else, to sleep and eat regularly. If they are lacking in either, it may negatively affect their development. It’s best to have a consistent rhythm in daily life. We could say that good parenting means to enable children to establish such a rhythm. This is something children gain in their interactions with their parents. But it is not about the length of time one spends with children. A healthy life rhythm is something parents can impart to children in the home by using their ingenuity and wisdom. How does one enable children to establish a rhythm that allows them to grow in a healthy manner? This is something that I hope parents will take on seriously as one of their most important challenges.

Never lose hope, and live strongly.

A child’s suffering is the parents’ suffering. It may be an even deeper pain than falling ill oneself. Nothing causes more grief than a child being ill, a child who should have a long future ahead. Parents may question why their child has to suffer this way. I receive many letters from parents all around the world whose children are desperately battling illness. When I read these, I pray for the child’s complete recovery and send encouragement to the family so they can advance undefeated by their hardships. In any event, it is the sick child who is suffering most. However young, children at the deep relentless struggle to live on, to survive. This is the natural power inherent in life itself. Since this is the case, the other family members must never be overwhelmed by suffering. It is crucial for family members to never lose hope and live strongly. It’s only natural that you may at times lapse into despair. But please raise your head high, arouse courage and move forward.

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