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Daily Life

Raising Children Who Love the SGI

Ikeda Sensei talks about the role parents play in guiding their children to take faith. This guidance can be found in The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 6, pp. 200–02.

How do we encourage our children to take faith in Buddhism?

The most important thing is to help them learn to respect and love the SGI without pressuring them. Since faith is a lifetime issue, it’s enough that they develop their understanding over time. It’s probably not wise to be inflexible and try to force them to practice.

We need to teach our children the spirit to cherish and protect the SGI. I hope parents will raise their children to really love the SGI. If children have that spirit, they will absolutely become fine people. …

Of course, the failure of children to practice cannot necessarily be attributed to a problem with the faith of the parents. We have to view children in the long term. It is not uncommon for those considered to be problem children to turn out to be thoughtful and down to earth.

The bottom line, however, is that everything is ultimately decided by the parents’ faith. In particular—and I say this based on the experiences of hundreds of thousands of people—the faith of the mother is crucial. This is what is meant by “consistency from beginning to end.” “Beginning,” may be interpreted as the faith of the parents; and “end” the faith of the children. There is essentially no separation between the two.

It is up to us to demonstrate through our example the spirit of treasuring the Gohonzon and the SGI, which is dedicated to kosen-rufu. As long as we have such a spirit, everything will work out in the end.

If parents practice joyfully, consequently receiving great benefit as they advance, their children will naturally understand. No matter how we might treasure and pamper our children, it will all count for nothing if we do not teach them this spirit. To raise decent human beings is no easy task. …

At any rate, when it comes to faith, it is important that parents wisely guide their children. It is also helpful to ask for the support of the youth division leaders responsible for future division activities.

When it comes to matters other than faith, too, I hope that parents will be friends to their children and listen to what they have to say. In particular, while it may be OK for a mother to keep after her children, it’s not a good idea for a father to shout at them. It’s also important to note that if both parents scold a child at the same time, that leaves the child with nowhere to turn.

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