Dhamma Parenting

I don’t know many Dhamma Parents, but the ones that I know always speak of the struggle to continue meditating with the added responsibility of parenting on their plate. Some parents meditate less. Some say they will start meditating again when their children are older. Some parents make major changes to their career goals to allow time to meditate. None of these choices seem ideal as the healthiest families I know prioritize love, and the best way I know to prioritize love is to meditate.

The problem always seems to be the limited amount of time we have in a day. Our routine daily responsibilities seem to take up most of the day causing the items we value most to be pushed further down the calendar. Unfortunately, it seems like a population of adults who did exactly what they were supposed to decade after decade are unfulfilled, depressed, and unmotivated.

So how do we change the paradigm? How do we make it possible to take care of our mundane responsibilities while investing enough time in meditation to develop the loving life we dreamed of. I wonder how children would turn out differently if they saw the adults in their life prioritizing meditation. Would they feel abandoned for two hours a day, or would the appreciate and emulate the actions of their parents?

I often hear newer meditators flirt with the idea of becoming a monk because they so badly want to prioritize dhamma into their lives. Instead of the all or nothing question of becoming a monk, I wonder if there are alternate ways to practice being a good householder. I know I’m not ready to become a monk, and I know I would like to raise a loving family, but I’m still trying to discover how to be the best householder I can. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Time to meditate.

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About Ryan Shelton

In March of 2010 I discovered a path to peace and happiness through a 10-day Vipassana meditation course in the tradition of S.N. Goenka. After establishing my personal practice, and witnessing how it changed my way of life, I'm now curious to explore how the growing community of meditators can help to support each other and make the world a better place.
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4 Responses to Dhamma Parenting

  1. Paul Mattsson says:

    Hi Ryan, I´m a father and understand perfectly your question, because I ask it myself. The way I see it, dhamma is a work in progress, you take each day as you can, the better you get at it, the clearer the choices are. The important thing is to keep showing up; keep deciding in your mind that you will sit. If it isn´t for 2 hours a day, or at the usual time, then sit for whatever time you can, whenever you can. If you missed the morning, don´t quit the evening because of that. What´s more important, sitting is a “controlled environment” practice lab for the rest of your day, and what you do the other 22 hours of the day are equally as important. Don´t stop your life. But one thing is for sure: today our options and distractions are far greater than ever before and we tend to want to take everything in. Part of the lesson in dhamma is that with the joy of living in the present moment we will improve in “cutting out the fat”, creating more space in our schedule and making it easier to find time to sit. I suspect this process will come organically. Cheers.

  2. Ryan Shelton says:

    Great feedback, thanks!

  3. S says:

    I found your website with the keywords “Vipassana experiences in parenting” and read through your post and the comment by Paul. Thank you. I’m struggling with being equanimous when my 11-year old misbehaves and it’s been a pattern since she was very young. I don’t know anyone else that brings out this monstrous part of me and I feel like she’s my biggest Vipassana test on an almost daily basis. Today was especially bad and I’m going to read through the Positive Discipline book that has helped me in the past. I’m worried and anxious – I’m pushing her away and I can see it happen but I’m not able to stop myself. 😦 very disheartened that even some regularity (once every Sunday and at least twice a week), in practice hasn’t helped me much. OK, I’ll try to meditate twice every day – anything that’ll make my relationship with my child more harmonious. Please share your metta.

    Thank you!

  4. GP says:

    S,
    Sending you metta.

    I have had the same parenting journey. Trying to take it day by day (really minute by minute on those especially trying days), meditate, reading and listening to the dharma.

    May you be at peace. You are doing the best you can.

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