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Buddhist parental advice

BunksBunks Australia Veteran
edited May 2017 in Buddhism Basics

Given the fact the Buddha left his wife and child and that monks and nuns (generally) don't have kids, do you turn to the three jewels for parental advice?


  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    Right this moment, I think Buddha had the right idea :lol: Totally kidding, but it's been a rough few days in this house. End of the school year, stuck in the house due to bad weather, vacation approaching. My kids are like zoo animals. I'm losing my mind!

    But, yes. I think. I use Buddhism a lot in my parenting. I'm not quite sure what you mean about using the 3 Jewels specifically. But I use Buddhism to enhance, back up, and better explain various concepts. It's rare I bring up that it's Buddhism it just happens that Buddhism fits very neatly with my previously worked up life philosophy. I was just a bit ago talking my oldest about learning how to calm his mind so that he isn't verbalizing so much unnecessary stuff. Which he has a horrible habit of doing. Buddhism has given me the tools to bring my philosophy to life and into action, I guess. Specific to parenting.

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    I understand @karasti. My daughter kicked my son in the side of the head with both feet as hard as she could this morning and I totally lost my shit. Haven't been that angry with her in a while.
    It's just the physical violence she displays thqt shocks me. I am very protective of my son so it really upsets me.
    Then I feel crappy for yelling at her and chucking her in her room this morning.
    The joys of parenthood!

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    It's interesting you talk about your son verbalizing unnecessary stuff @karasti, often my daughter will just verbalize everything's in her head for hours on end. And god forbid if you don't listen! it's very draining sometimes.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    Is she needing to communicate and failing to have the ability to do so? I wonder what is behind the violent episodes. I have done similar over my parenting years. My middle son, when he was about 7, was constantly stealing from people, including his great grandma. It was a chronic issue and I was at my wit's end after trying a million different things. It went on for a couple of years, including school suspensions for it. I finally had enough when he stole from great grandma, and I put him "in jail" for a weekend. I took all his stuff out of his room except a notebook and pen and some books, and his bed. And he stayed there all weekend, including his meals which I brought on a tray. He was allowed out for a half hour for recreation time.

    In hindsight, I think I was too hard on him considering his age. I was really worried how much trouble he'd get into if this behavior continued and wanted him to see what jail might be like. It did help, actually, he had very few stealing moments after (he is now 15 and to my knowledge does not steal anymore). But as he's gotten older, I understand his personality and needs better. If I could go back I'd be able to handle it so much better because I can understand now other possibilities of what might have been going on with him. We have issues related to those core personalities issues still, just not stealing. And I am better at finding other ways to help him learn about himself and deal with the issues. Buddhism is a big part of it. I can stay calm longer. And when I mess up, I can apologize and explain better. Of course, my kids are getting older so they understand better, too. But for the most part I work pretty hard to attempt to find reasons for the behavior. When they are young it's hard because they not only can't have good conversations bout it, but you just don't know them well enough yet because of that lack of more in-depth communication.

    For example, with the stealing thing with my son, it was most likely a very strong attention-getting thing for him. He loves to entertain, to be the center of attention, to be boisterous, and to be noticed. When those needs aren't fulfilled for him in healthy ways, he turns to negative ways to be noticed. Which is what the stealing was. But at age 7, even once I started to recognize it, he was not really capable of understanding it. So I had to use my understanding (the best I could) to find healthy outlets for him. With your daughter, it could be frustration at an inability to communicate her needs, it could be a physical outlet need etc. Could you consider putting her into martial arts classes or something similar to learn how to positively redirect that energy?

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    the non-stop talking. Yes. All the time. I love to converse with him, we have great talks about current events and such things. But there are days, like today, where he is literally talking from the time he wakes up, whether anyone is listening or not. Right now he is playing a game on his phone, and is talking nonstop about the the details of playing the game. It's like he has no ability to think to himself without verbalizing it. It makes it hard to pay attention to him because I eventually have to tune him out because he will talk for a half hour with no one listening. Then all of a sudden he's asking me a question and I have no idea because I stopped listening. He's almost 21, and it's still a battle to get him to understand that he needs to learn to calm his mind so that the thoughts that come out are important and part of conversations instead of just noise. his mind just works so incredibly fast that he's moved on from the thought he is still verbalizing. It works well for some things. he is amazingly good at math and finance and science. He just hasn't learned how to balance it yet. It is draining, yes. the other 2 kids want attention to, especially the middle one I was just talking about. And he talks right over everyone. He interrupts conversations constantly, and if someone tries to get a word in, he just talks louder. It's very challenging, especially when he is gone all year then comes home because we have to readjust and it's hard.

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    She has a thing about sleeves and pants i.e. she can't handle long sleeve tops or long pants.

    What set her off initially this morning was that apparently I rolled her sleeves up the wrong way. She was just in such a funk about it!

    It usually ends in an outburst of violence toward her brother or me.

    I need to learn to be a bit more pre-emptive maybe and make her go to another room for a bit until she calms down......

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    Can she have more control over some things? Like clothes she picks and how to wear them? If you asked her to roll her sleeves, could she? Or could you ask her how she'd like it done? It's really common (as I'm sure you know) for aspie kids to have sensory issues. My son has been wearing the same kind of clothes since he was 3, lol. In some ways, I can relate. I cannot handle high necked shirts (turtleneck sweaters) or scratchy clothes, like things that are starched or freshly pressed. I cannot touch the cotton balls in medicine bottles, or wet sweaters. The sensation is just awful, like fingernails on a chalkboard!

    One book that helped me a lot, though isn't specifically about aspie kids, was "Raising A Spirited Child." It gave me a lot of ideas to help prevent meltdowns and helped me to relate better to him a bit. I read a few Aspie books written by kids, and that helped, too. I needed to shift my perspective but I didn't know how or what to change it to.

    It's hard. I feel ya. My son is much better since he was young. I wasn't sure he'd be able to go to college, but he is doing well. There are still challenges, but he learns more the differences in how he sees and interacts with the world and how others do, and how to navigate that. It does get better. But I know it's exhausting. I remember just crying so many evenings because I was at such a loss. I knew something was much more "wrong" than they could tell me but no one could help. Things have come so far since then. He was born in 1996, but he did not get an AS diagnosis until he was 12. He was diagnosed with all sorts of things, but it wasn't until I requested AS testing after reading Temple Grandin's book that we started to figure it out. Her book just finally helped things click and come together as to how he saw and dealt with things. There was a lot of grieving for the time wasted and for the suffering he went through while we tried to figure it out. We lost a lot of ground and there was a lot of frustration. Starting earlier makes a big difference. Hang in there. <3

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    Thanks @karasti - it has been extremely beneficial knowing from a young age what the issue was with her. I feel for you given what you had to go through. The advancements in understanding and diagnosis in recent years is amazing!

    My ex has taken to cutting her pants and long sleeve tops three quarter length which has helped. She has also bought her super soft jumpers which she seems to like.

    I do get advised a lot about books to read etc and I have done a little reading. But I am just not the sort of person to spend hours researching on why my kid behaves a certain way etc. I certainly feel I understand enough to help her.

  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran

    @karasti -- Lord, I remember those days and you have my sympathy.

    When it comes to naughty and nice, for some reason I remember driving on a back road with my two, then young sons. Both were in love with the cuss words they seemed to pick up as a magnet picks up metal filings. They were doing it as we drove. I like cuss words and dislike seeing them abused so at some point during the drive, I stopped the car and instructed them both in somber tones:

    After I restarted our drive, I wanted both of them to scream, yell and holler all of the cuss words they knew. I mean, no sissy stuff ... really belt it out. This I expected them to do for one minute and not a second less. Loud! Really loud! One minute ... and I would time them.

    Needless to say, the proposition delighted them. They agreed. "Don't forget," I warned, "... one minute and not a second less!" Yeah, yeah, they responded. And so I started the car and that deserted back road. I opened the windows so the cuss words could get out. They screamed and screeched and hollered and laughed and screamed some more ... and after 20 seconds, they ran out of words. "No stopping!" I roared. "Not a second less than one minute!" But they couldn't do it. There simply were not enough words to fill the space. They were as naughty as they could be ... but naughtiness, like holiness, has a way of wearing out.

    Not sure what that story has to do with the OP. I always said of my kids that I didn't want "to raise good Buddhists -- I want to raise good people." In general, that's the way they turned out ... minus a few cuss words, I suspect.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    @Bunks For me, I wasn't so much researching as looking for a kindred spirit who had been down the road and knew how to put words to things I couldn't yet. And ideas how to handle the meltdowns and things to look for that might cause them. A lot of what we ended up doing was prepping him for things that we learned were triggers for over stimulation. We did our shopping late at night to avoid the crowds. We talked ahead of time about what it would be like and how we could get out of there faster (whatever it was). The books I read written by AS kids helped a lot in figuring out how to ask the right questions and how to get him to understand certain concepts from his point of view. I had to go way outside the box of my interpretation of the world. Once I started to understand better, my inappropriate overreactions became less and less. I still get aggravated, but there is much less yelling. He lives in and experiences the world so vastly differently than I do. Letting go of my preconceived ideas of what a parent/child relationship was in order to get a little insight into his world ended up being important to saving our relationship.

    All that said, there have been many more gifts than there have been cons. Having him as my first child made me a vastly better parent for the others. I learned a lot about letting people be who they are and working with that rather than trying to force perceptions. It means changing gears constantly because my 3 kids all have very different personalities and needs. We have few blanket rules as a result, which is a challenge to keep straight! My husband is from a very straight-laced "kids have their place and it's subordinate to their parents" type of household, so there are challenges there. You don't question or challenge your parents, in his world. In my world, you do. All the time. But respectfully. My world and my Buddhism is much richer having such different people in my life.

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    That's lovely @karasti. It's nice to talk to someone who understands what it's like.

    My ex wife often says to me "It's good to talk to you about Julia because YOU

    I grew up in a similar household to your husband so it has been a challenge for me to adjust to a kid like her.

    It is a challenge but we're trying to create the best environment for her to shine in.

    Yes, there some hiccups like yesterday morning but I think, all in all, we're doing ok.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    I have no doubt you are doing just fine and will continue to do so! There are bumps with any kid. And sometimes the ones we think "you are so lucky your kid is 'normal' about have kids that suffer immensely. The kids who seem unchallenging are often keeping so much inside. Their problems come out later and in more severe and harmful ways. I was always grateful that I didn't end up with kids who felt they had to be perfect and as a result could not express themselves. I was one of those kids. I'm still figuring it out today as a result, lol. I did everything the "right" way because it was expected and I never wanted to disappoint anyone or rock the boat in any way. But as I got older, I ran into much more difficult problems looking for who I was and people to accept whatever that meant to me. With Caleb, most of the difficulty was when he was young and not good at communicating. There are still challenges, but I'll take a kid who is confident in who he is, which Caleb is. During his last year in sports, one of his coaches said that he's never met someone who is so confident in who they are and capable of living that out at such a young age. So I am most grateful for that. Open each other's worlds, which it sounds like you are already doing. It'll be mutually gratifying.

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    Thank you @karasti.

    I can empathise on the perfect child thing too. My Mum still tells me how perfect I was when I was young.

    I still struggle with it in relationships and at work.

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