The Five-Minute Buddhist Books

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Raising Buddhist Children

A reader recently wrote:

Hi Brian,

Glad to see the blog posts are back up. I’m eagerly awaiting new podcasts. Wished your book was an audio book.

I’m emailing today to ask: how do you raise my 5 year old buddhist? I think he’ll benefit tremendously from meditation and his mind hasn’t been packed with my family’s Catholic tradition. When do you get a kid started? How do I start him?

Thanks again for all your work on the website.

My Response:

First, I should point out that The Five-Minute Buddhist’s Buddhism Quick Start Guide is available as an audio book, as well as paperback or eBook for all major platforms. The big books may be coming someday, but there’s no schedule for that yet.

Now on to your real question. I don’t have any children, but have taken a bit of time to think through this. Hopefully, we’ll get some advice from someone with experience in the comments below the post.

I don’t know if there is an especially good time to “start” a child on Buddhism other than right now, as soon as you decide that you want your child to learn about it. The best way to “get into” any religion is to simply live with it from day to day. Let your child see you meditate, and hopefully, they’ll want to join in if they see mommy or daddy doing it.

I remember at that age, my grandparents gave me at least one big book of Bible stories, and I know I really enjoyed that book, not realizing that I was being indoctrinated as well. It’s not subtle, but storybooks not only help teach your child to read, but also instill whatever values and lessons are inside those stories. After a quick search on Amazon, here are a few that I found that look promising:

All four of those are very highly rated, but there are dozens of similar titles available.

Another thing to consider is whether or not you want to indoctrinate (that’s an ugly word) your child into Buddhism, or allow them to make their own choices like you did. I don’t know what your path to choosing/accepting Buddhism was, but if you’re like most Westerners, you came here from some other religious background. You may want to simply live your life as a Buddhist and be a good example for your children without pushing them either way. That’s up to you, but it’s a point to be considered.

There are a lot of opinions on this. The topic has come up before here {LINK} in relation to discipline, but the comments after the post are definitely worth reading.

If you have an opinion or advice on children and Buddhist parenting, please post it in the comments or email me.


1 comment to Raising Buddhist Children

  • DasCathcart

    I think it is important not to repeat the mistakes of those before us, including our parents or family. To suggest disdain for the packing of Catholic ideals into your child’s mind but then ask how to raise them Buddhist, I’m afraid aren’t all that different.

    I don’t say this to be disrespectful, but simply truthful from my stand point. I believe strongly that we should teach our children HOW to think, not WHAT to think. Teach them HOW to be, not WHAT to be. Install in them curiosity, the desire to ask questions, to think for themselves and consider different viewpoints before deciding what to think. I agree also that being how you want to be, a living example of your values, of your compassion is far more influential. Let them SEE who you are, because that will impact them more strongly than being TOLD.

    I looked at the books suggested by Brian and they look wonderful. But I would add to always ask them, “What do YOU think about this story?” Foster dialogue with your kids and let them know that it’s ok if they don’t always agree with everything you say and do. Just think of how you felt when your parents told you something and stated it was not open for discussion.

    To raise your kids with that sense of curiosity and free thinking means they might not end up thinking as you do. But hopefully, they’ll be compassionate and empathetic at their core. The rest is their path to walk, and our joy is to witness that journey for as long as we’re able.