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Daily Life

When Your Children Opt Out Of Faith

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The following is Ikeda Sensei’s guidance on achieving growth and maintaining conviction as parents when our children are not interested in embracing faith in Buddhism. It can be found in Happy Parents, Happy Kids.

Faith is a lifelong matter. It is all right if it deepens gradually, over time. It is not something to be forced upon others, and pressuring a child to understand and practice Buddhism will have opposite the intended effect. First, parents themselves should achieve outstanding growth as human beings and as people of faith. Your children will see this and in a natural way, steadily acquire faith.

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You shouldn’t be sad or worry if your child is not practicing Buddhism. Instead, it’s better to focus on taking care of others. The important thing is to maintain the conviction to lead your family to faith. In addition, mothers should not become followers of their children. Mothers who are so engrossed in their children that they cannot earnestly practice Buddhism not only fail to improve themselves as human beings but will be unable to foster the growth of their children. This will also influence your husband, at times even affecting his work. You do not want to deprive children of their self-reliance or hinder their growth.

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The human heart is more delicate than we suppose. Subtle changes in our thoughts and feelings often change everything drastically. Are we developing more sensitivity toward children’s hearts and minds? Are we extending more consideration to them, guiding them toward growth and happiness? We can develop the wisdom to do so by studying Buddhist insights into human nature. Whether interacting with our children or with our spouse, we should take the trouble to say “Thank you!” or “I’m sorry,” even in response to small things. Though such actions may seem insignificant, they add up to have an important impact. Small acts have large consequences. It is also important not to force our own way of thinking upon our spouse or children. We must first understand the other person’s circumstances and feelings and speak and act with genuine consideration. (pp. 20–21)

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