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  • Raising a child

    Dearest Ven. Ajahn Brahmali,

    Aloha, Venerable Sir! I respectfully ask for your guidance. I feel that I must ask this for the sake of my child.

    I am a divorced father to a 13 month old son (to give you a brief background of my childhood, I never knew a father's love as he died when me and my sister where still to young to remember. Hence the only love I was familiar with was that of a mother's love for her children). When the child was just a babe last year when he was born, I could only hold him for a certain amount of time then he would start looking for his mother and at that time I would feel sad but it was explained to me that it's normal that way for infants - understandbly so since they spend 9 months inside their mother's womb.

    Throughout the months as he grew, having only a couple of hours on certain days and then take him home with me on the weekends to spend time and take care of him, I gave the child the love my mother gave me along with the important things that I was taught watching Ajahn Brahm's dhamma talk on raising children - encouragement, honesty and friendship. I always give him the freedom to roam around my place, be inquisitive and the feeling that my heart will always be open to him no matter what he does. Everytime that he does something he is not supposed to I don't scold him but rather just ask him nicely to stop and explain to him that what he is doing is not benefecial or that he could get hurt if he keeps doing so. Amazingly, now that he can walk, he doesn't do anything by himself but rather follow me wherever I go just to make sure I am there to watch him. As an example, when I'm putting away clothes, he would pick up what he is playing with and then follow me to my room. There he would continue what he was doing while I finish the chore. Also, in the mornings when he would wake up, he would just lie down right beside me and wait till I'm up. Sometimes I pretend I'm sleeping to see what he would do. He would just lie there and start talking in baby talk to himself. When he can't wait any longer, he would shake me to wake me up. For those hours that I am with the child, I am mindful enough to squeeze every little moment that I can be with him. I have been told that I spoil the child by raising him the way I do. But then as a Buddhist, I can only raise him the only and proper way - with unconditional love and no control. In fact, the child is the one who teaches me how to be truly be unconditional.

    Now, whenever I go to his place and when hes sees me opening the door, he smiles from ear to ear and walks hastily away from his mother towards me hugging my legs as if he's never seen me for such a long time. I could never be so happier and I can never be so thankful for the wise teachings that made this kind of relationship between the two of us possible. Also to add, the child has shown to be really compassionate and loving. One time when the grandmother who babysits him during the day was feeling very sick, seeing her like that, the child approached her and patted her kindly and gave her a loving smile the whole time to show his care. The grandmother was very amazed and was very touched.

    Because of my love for him, personally I would like for him to be a monk when he grows up. (I've mentioned that to the mother but she is very hesitant). That is the only way he can transcend this suffering. That way he can also truly benefit others. I know that I must be his example hence I am trying my very best to observe the precepts and internalize the path/practice. I know I can not control his life. That is his own freedom. He must choose his own path. However, as a parent I really believe he will be well off as a monastic. How can I encourage him to follow the monastic path without imposing the idea on him?

    Thank you so much for time reading and I do apologize for the length. Your continued guidance is greatly appreciated.

    Anjali and metta.

    with aloha and great respect,
    Russell

  • #2
    Dear Russell,

    It's very inspiring to read about your relationship with your son!

    One of the things you can do is make him comfortable about Buddhism. There are some good Buddhist children's books available and you could try reading some of those to him. But only if he enjoys it! Occasionally you could take him to a Buddhist temple or monastery to make him feel comfortable around Buddhist monks and nuns. But, again, only if he likes it. As he gets older you can gradually introduce him to deeper aspects of the Dhamma.

    The most important thing, however, is your own conduct. If your son respects you, he will also respect your values, and it is likely that he will take a natural interest in Buddhism all by himself. You are going to have to very patient during his teenage years (!), but in the long run your love and acceptance, combined with wise guidance, is going to leave a very positive mark on him.

    But please keep in mind that the chances that he will become a monk are very small. If you keep that firmly in mind, it will be easier for you to accept whatever he decides to do in life.

    Keep up the good work!

    With metta.

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    • #3
      Dearest Ven. Ajahn Brahmali,

      Venerable Sir, thank you for your reply and for your warm words I have to thank you and the Perth Sangha how our relationship flourished. We are blessed with your great teachings!

      I occassionaly take him to the temple and he seems to be okay with it. At his current age, books are for him to tear apart but I will surely and slowly try to read to him. Although he listens attentively to the Dhammacakkapavann Sutta and other chants every Saturday morning when I play them to start the Uposatha observance But I guess he likes the rhythm but that's a start.

      I wholeheartedly agree with you, Venerable Sir, when you say my conduct is the most important. Whenever I feel or notice a defilement coming up I always tell myself, that I cannot fail to train because of my concern for the child. I am his primary example. I always tell myself that I can fail at any worldly things but when it comes to the Dhamma, I will have to exert so that the boy can see the truth for himself as he grows up. I also always tell him (and basically myself) that I will always respect him and be understanding towards him whatever he maybe or whatever he chooses in life. I will practice being his kalyanamitta. And yes, I will definitely take your advice and will keep to heart that there's a nil chance he will become a monastic.

      Thank you so very much for your compassion in continuing to teach us lay followers

      Anjali and metta.

      With aloha and great respect,

      Russell

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