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Daily Life

Parents Working Together

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Ikeda Sensei’s guidance on how parents can work together to create an atmosphere at home that colors their children’s hearts with peace, encouragement and happiness. This can be found in Happy Parents, Happy Kids, pp. 13-15.

Many parents fight about their children’s problems, blaming each other and making matters worse. Children clearly see this, and they are the ones who suffer most.

When children misbehave, parents are likely to scold them by saying, “I didn’t raise that kind of child.” But this approach doesn’t solve anything. It is parents, not children, who need to change. Parents think that they are raising their children, yet they do not realize that they are, in fact, also being raised by their children.

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The atmosphere at home gradually colors children’s hearts with its various shades and tones, either bright or dark, warm or cold. Above all, the relationship between the parents profoundly affects children’s psyche. For this reason, parents shouldn’t fight in front of their children. Goethe said, “He is the happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home.” However wealthy we become or how much status or recognition we achieve, if our homes are not peaceful, we will be lonely and miserable. For the half century and more since I joined the Soka Gakkai, I have dedicated myself to its cause without any hindrance from stress or anxiety at home. This is because I have been blessed with a good, peaceful family. Peace, however, does not mean the absence of all hardship or worry. However stormy things may seem at times, as long as there is a “sun” shining in the family, all will be well. For this reason, I ask that mothers always shine like the sun at home. It is parents’ unaffected behavior and bearing—more than what they verbalize—that remains in children’s hearts.

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When both parents are busy, they need to be creative and wise in improving their communication. To be a practitioner of Buddhism does not mean to become someone
special. It is to work as an excellent member of society and live sincerely as a good father and husband, as a good mother and wife. If we neglect the immediate reality of our homes and families, no matter what grand ideals we may talk about, our words will remain unpersuasive. It is important for both parents to make efforts to understand each other. For this reason, parents need to take little steps every day to show each other care and consideration.

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Happiness is not the absence of life’s hardships and challenges. No matter what may happen, as parents join hearts and share both suffering and joy, they can deepen and strengthen their bond. Second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda said: “Nichiren Buddhism exists for the unhappy and unfortunate. It is a religion that enables those in adversity to become happy. By overcoming difficulty, they can display tremendous strength. Only such people can become true allies of the unfortunate.” Despite our busy schedules, we expend our life force and energy striving for the happiness of others. This is why we create supreme value and become worthy of respect.

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Everyone has shortcomings. If we simply point out and blame each other for our shortcomings, we will become fed up with each other. Even when our assertions may be correct, or precisely because they are correct, our criticism at times may become unbearable. This is all the more true in families. I hope that parents magnanimously embrace each other’s minor faults and mistakes and acknowledge each other’s strengths and merits, thus building a family filled with mutual encouragement and praise. If parents are always quarreling, it will cast a dark shadow upon their children’s hearts. Furthermore, parents must not criticize each other behind the other’s back, especially in front of the children.

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