SuttaCentral

On parenting (teenagers)

Dear community,

I have very much enjoyed reading some of the older Q&A and find it very helpful as Dharma sharing community.

This question came up after a talk I heard from Bhante @sujato where he talked that the whole education system being a bit nuts and we should just ask the kid to pay attention in class, take some time to meditate, and not do homework, tutors, and not worry beyond that (but I find it so hard to practice as a parent!)

In the grand scheme of things, my question is a very ‘minor inconvenience’ but hopefully the answers are generic enough to help others.

I could not find many discussions on parenting so ask my question:

While I find it relatively easy (ier) to not have too much desire for myself since I’m in a comfortable position in life and my path is just following the dhamma and living a simple life, I do catch myself desiring the best for my children and pushing them to study, work (very?) hard etc.

How does one balance ‘loving kindness’ that can (very quickly) turn into ‘suffering’ (especially as the way the teenager sees parents advice)?

I.e. the parent and the teenager have different views on what is correct and appropriate, we live in a society which is getting so competitive for the next generation.

What is the middle way?

How does one balance allowing a kid to make some mistakes and learn versus becoming overprotective.

I know part of the answer is that they will turn out fine and I need to practice more along the path(I just started doing metta… But I’m one of those lazy ones who want to do nothing during meditation so still waiting for metta to happen :slightly_smiling_face:), but time is short and they are off to college soon.

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My thoughts are to find meaningful fun things to do with your children that will show them the importance of living meaningfully in modern society, and also following a Spiritual Path to enrich their morals and perspective on life. How wonderful it is to be a parent who has the capacity to save their children and family from Samsara. That means you have not squandered your life span. I hope you stay on the Buddhist Path.

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There is certainly no easy answer to what you are asking … it must be one of the most challenging things to do :pray:

What I would suggest is to focus on the process rather than outcomes. Put in all the wholesome, metta directed, and positive influences you can, unconditionally - that is all you can do.

Knowing that you have done all you can do, one can be happy or at least at peace, this all that is within your power - knowing the outcome is impossible to guarantee.

One thing about ‘mistakes’ - one really can’t judge what even is a mistake… until well into the future… good, bad, who knows? How many times has something that appeared to be ‘bad’ turned out to be a blessing in disguise :slight_smile: (and vice versa as well).

Often ‘mistakes’ are conceived in terms of outcomes… If the focus is on the process then ‘mistakes’ aren’t negative, they are learning opportunities and the impetus for growth :slight_smile:

There is no guarantee about the ‘outcome’ in samsara - attaching to outcomes is pretty much guaranteeing suffering, for oneself, and for the teenagers. This is also an effective thing to demonstrate for kids… not to attach to the outcome, but to be happy with ones behaviour… (the process) this is the road to deep personal tranquility and absence of any remorse. I do acknowledge that this is extremely difficult within the current system, where outcomes are the thing that is valued, and process is just seen as a means to an end.

with much metta :slight_smile: :sunflower:

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Hi Sunya, as it happens I was asked a similar question in a talk last night. There were some kids there, maybe early teens or younger. the parents asked, how do we get the kids to meditate. So I asked the kids.

Luckily, I actually got good answers from them! I didn’t know them, so it was a bit of a gamble. But they both, though young (two sisters) had meditated, and could actually describe what the experience of meditation was like. They were actually meditating, not just sitting there in posture making the parents happy! So that was really nice. I tried to sell them on the line, “if you meditate you can do less homework”, not sure if they believed me!

But yes, I do believe that learning comes about through quality of attention, and that balanced mental health needs plenty of time off-book. I’ve sometimes offered to write letters excusing kids from homework as their spiritual mentor, pointing out that excessive homework and no time for play is against the UN rights of the child!

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My parents never really had to push me to do homework: they just enjoyed learning so much that it rubbed off naturally.

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Once my mom said I can connect the dots any way I want for homework, and not in order.

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Teach them basic ethical principles, but not meddle their affairs, let them figure out how to apply into their activities.

I probably will emphasis on the precepts, emphasis on keep up a good heart - it is a protection from dangers, incidents and violence, in my belief.

As to work hard - it is not all that important imo. Richness, status, largely are driven by his past kamma & his choices upon new opportunities. If it is in his temperament to work hard, he will. otherwise he would just work hard with a depressed. It is worse than being poor.

Only difference between a growup & child, is the amount of memory. A young person gets as much as kamma as a grow up, ‘childrens are as old as parents.’

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Thank you everyone and especially Bhante for your reply, I feel so fortunate. With humble respect and gratitude.

I also was sent this by my dear wife which goes along the theme of many of the replies.

:two_hearts:

I keep going back to this poem by Khalil Gibran

And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, Speak to us of Children.
And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

As for myself, I have started on metta practice.

…something that I had been avoiding in favor of breath meditation thus far in my dhamma journey, and boy, when the student is ready the teacher appears, couldn’t have asked for a better community to start on my practice of metta!

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