Guidance for Raising Children with Dharma
About This Resource
How do we inspire children to discover Dharma and practice it in their own lives? Here is a collection of family-oriented resources from teachers from the three main different Buddhist traditions: Theravada, Mayayana and Vajrayana.*
- Parenting without Going Crazy by Āyasmā Kumāra This short article by a Malaysian teacher offers reflections based on his own experience as a child, and his subsequent study of the Buddhist teachings. He emphasizes how wisdom is essential, and as a practical approach, urges us to reflect on our own childhoods, and think for ourselves about what works and what doesn’t.
- Buddhist Attitude to Parents in Theravada Buddhism by Dr. Ari Ubeysekara, a Buddhist chaplain at Cardiff University in England: This article uses thirteen different sources to discuss what the Buddhist sutras (words of the Buddha) say about parenting. It is a simply written, yet scholarly approach, and you will likely find sutras for further reflection on how to apply the Dharma to the challenging but rewarding practice of raising children.
- We can help our children by teaching them mindfulness and the energy of tenderness video of a 12-minute talk by Thích Nhất Hạnh (Thay). Thay speaks about how simple mindfulness practice, using the breath as an object of focus, has the power to allow us to cut through our emotions. Through practical examples, Thay calmly explains how after learning this practice, parents and teachers can transmit it to their children. This gives them a tool to empower them to regulate strong emotions with a fresh confidence.
- A review of Old Path, White Clouds by Thich Nhat Hanh. This is our most highly recommended Buddhist book for children. From the review, “One Buddhist mom said she read Old Path, White Clouds cover to cover as a bedtime story to her young daughter. “It was this special place that she and I went to every night. It wasn’t action-packed but it had so much atmosphere, at least for us. It was like we went on a journey every night. It was so gentle. I remember reading every night for about half an hour.”
- How can I share the dharma with my kids? An interview with three Buddhist teachers via Lion’s Roar: All three Buddhist teachers’ responses emphasize that the best way to introduce children to the dharma is to practice yourself. Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche explains, “How you want your children to be, be yourself. What you want them to do, do yourself. The compassionate qualities you want your children to both experience and express, feel them within yourself. Express them toward your children and in their presence. That is the way to communicate the essence of the dharma.”
- A spiritual approach to raising Buddhist children by Dungse Thinley Norbu Rinpoche: Rinpoche talks about the effects of competition and speediness in materialist modern society, and how it’s important to start with the senses, giving them examples they can touch, see, and hear. In this pithy article, Rinpoche explains that, “The main key is to make children’s minds very balanced, very stable, and not speedy.”
For a discussion of these three Buddhist traditions this “Buddhism for Beginners” article from Tricycle is helpful: What’s the Difference Between Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana?
Photo by Jonas Ferlin