A reader asks :
Can you please explain the Buddha’s teaching on the concept of having children? Whether it is true by the 4 noble truths if you want stop suffering you have to find the cause and stop the causing. So the suffering related to children and raising them and leaving them when you die can be stopped by not having them in the first place if one decided to do so?
There is certainly physical suffering in childbirth. No doubt about that. There’s also mental and emotional suffering when your children are sick and in pain. They have emotional and personal issues as they grow up, which also cause you suffering as a parent. Over the years, the roles reverse, and your aging will cause suffering for your children, as will your eventual death. Yes, children are a great source of suffering.
On the other hand, I think most parents will say that it’s worth it. The pleasure of having children and watching them grow into successful adults is one of life’s greatest rewards. Is this attachment? Yes. Did Buddha warn against attachments? Yes.
This is a pretty deep question when you start thinking about it. If you, as a Buddhist, have children and do your best to reduce their suffering, then teach your children about the eightfold path, and they grow up to reduce the suffering of others, does that balance out the suffering? Suppose they have grandchildren who spread loving-kindness around the world as well. Children are a long-term legacy that can have effects long after we are gone.
Are you, right now, affecting your great-grandparents karma, just by existing? It seems reasonable to me. The goodness (or badness) that we do in life continues long after we’re gone.
There are many other point-of-view on this complex topic. I’d love to hear yours below!