Debt to parents

Hello all,

While children need to pay their debt to their parents, is thinking and maintaining “I want to repay them” thought is a wholesome kind of thought?

I think our mind is important, it shapes the present and future. Is maintaining “I want to repay them” thought potentially create new habit and future (life) suffering e.g. working extremely hard with the thought to repay loved ones/someone? And also, by maintaining such thought, are we actually strengthening the bond of relationship for the present life and future lives? Maybe this is not something one wants to achieve particularly if the quality of relationship is not “the best” one.

Is “I am only doing my duty as children” thought wiser, does it make a difference? What kind of thought one should think and maintain when one wants to repay the kindness of parents?

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AN 7.52 addresses this; give with the motive that

This is an ornament for the mind, a support for the mind

Here was some earlier discussion:


Dear SC1100

My thought with regard to parents, whether our parents were excellent, or not-so-excellent, is to cultivate all aspects of the Brahmaviharas in your relationship with them. Practice this bhavana of expansive goodwill and friendly kindness toward them each day. If they are in need, act with full compassion and address their needs. Cultivate the mudita of joy and gratitude, for all that they have positively contributed to your life; that they joined together to bring you into this life and practice. Finally, cultivate the balance of mind to see their good and negatives in the peaceful shade of the tree of equanimity. So, perhaps the idea is not so much of one as a “repayment,” but an active cultivation of these Brahmaviharas, toward them and in embrace of them, that form the foundation for our practice. That’s my two baht.


obsession of any type is always unhealthy

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Dear SC1100

The best way to repay our parents is to steer them towards the Dhamma but that is a hard task being that they were the ones who reared us but we can only try. And as stated we must be always appreciative and grateful to them no matter what.

For me, the way to repay my parents is to really give my best living a virtuous, peaceful, kind, and gentle life in accordance with the Dhamma. Most often, its the actions that have the best results. I think most parents in general would greatly rejoice if they know that their child is a wonderful human being.

Just my thoughts.

in mettā,


@Anagarika, @daverupa

Brahmaviharas cultivation I think is more broader and less specific about parents. We know it’s a repayment but instead we choose to replace that thought with giving or cultivation of Brahmaviharas, does anyone acknowledge there is an intention to avoid repayment, is that in itself unwholesome?

See Putta Sutta AN5.39 (Reasons for Having a Son). The ideal attitude is gratitude for support received. (The acara (conduct) of householders is gendered in the Pali canon. )


Thinking about it but not obsessed. But if someone keep doing it again and again, would the mind become occupied with that thought?

i would say that constant musing about the same theme is pretty much an indication of clinging to it, especially when it produces emotional undertones, a kind of papanca
but not doing, as things can be done repeatedly with free mind and no attachment

but there is always intention behind one’s actions, right? Of course, establishing parents in Dhamma is the perfect repayment. But what would be the intention when one, for example, gives his parents money, gives his parents comfort, etc.? Since the theme is repayment, one continuously arouses “repayment” intention in his mind. The more he does it, the more it dwells in the mind.

What will happen if this thought habit continue into the next existence? I doubt it will not create suffering.