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Daily Life

The Importance of Home and Parenting

Ikeda Sensei’s guidance on being sincere and showering our children with love. It can be found in Happy Parents, Happy Kids, pp. 5–8.

The Lotus Sutra relates the story of the dragon king’s daughter, or dragon girl, who attained Buddhahood at only eight years of age. Nichiren says, “As for the dragon girl, her father is a dragon, and she is his eight-year-old daughter. The two words ‘dragon girl’ imply that both father and daughter attain Buddhahood at the same time” (The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 106). This teaching has profound meaning. Applied to parenting, it signifies that the parents’ efforts to nurture their child’s zest for life will in turn spark something in the lives of the parents. It will serve as a positive influence for them as well, enabling both parents and children to enjoy lives of the greatest fulfillment.

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The times seem to be moving in a negative direction. “Me first” is becoming the prevailing trend, the general mood of society. Education is the only means to change this trend. And I believe education at home is crucial. The Swiss educator Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi said that home is the place for moral education. There are many places to acquire knowledge and skills but few where one can learn how to lead a life of humanity. Home, in my opinion, should be the foremost positive influence, or “good friend,” for children to refine their humanity.

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There is no such thing as a perfect parent. Possessing both flaws and strengths is part of being human and makes children feel more at ease. It is said that children are more comfortable talking with parents who can admit and talk about their failures than with parents who brag. It is important to make efforts to become a wise parent. But just trying to fit the image of “a good parent” will make your child suffer. Be true to yourself.

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I try as much as possible to understand the hard work of mothers. I appreciate them and join my palms together in reverence for their efforts. Amid their extremely busy lives at work and at home, they still strive for kosen-rufu. Mothers are the sunlight that illuminates their homes and communities; they are the most praiseworthy people in the world. Children are intently watching their parents’ earnest efforts. When our children ask us: “Which is more important, me or your work? Me or your Buddhist activities?” we must reply to them clearly, “You are the most important.” Then we must clearly and confidently explain to our children the reasons we work or engage in Buddhist activities and to what purpose we dedicate our lives for the sake of others. We must not take for granted our children’s understanding and support in this regard. Nor must we use our busy schedules as an excuse not to explain to our children about what we do. We must express our love for our children concretely. If not, even though children may intellectually understand their mothers’ circumstances, they will feel unsatisfied.

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The love parents shower on young children will become sustenance for their whole lives. It’s fine just to be simple and honest. You may at times make mistakes, become overwhelmed, or lose your temper. What is most important, however, is to always make wholehearted effort. Children grow up watching their parents. It is not the parents’ words that children hear. No matter what wonderful things parents may say, if their words are not accompanied by action, children will never listen. Children’s lives will be determined by how parents live. The parents’ love and way of life will, like magma beneath the earth’s crust, form the innermost core of children’s hearts and become a source of energy to support the rest of their lives.

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