Foundations of Buddhist Parenting

What do we mean when we say combine Buddhism and parenting to engage in Buddha Heart Parenting? The most important thing we need to do is to lay the foundations. We need a strong base within ourselves from which to view the world and to parent our children with compassion and wisdom.

The strong foundation consists of a good working knowledge of the Buddhist worldview. One of the key concepts we need to understand is ‘ignorance’. We need to see things as they really are, not how we think they are. When we don’t see things how they really are, this is called ignorance. It is ignorance of the Dharma, ignorance of right knowledge. Ignorance does not mean stupid or dumb. In Buddhist terms ignorance simple means ‘not knowing’.

Other Buddhist concepts we need an intellectual understanding of, are emptiness, dependent origination, mindfulness and equanimity.

One of the most fundamental Buddhist teachings is the Four Noble Truths. They are among the truths Gautama Buddha realised during his experience of enlightenment. The Four Noble Truths are as follows:

  1. The Nature of Suffering. Suffering exists
  2. The Origin of Suffering. Suffering has a cause.
  3. The Cessation of Suffering. An end to suffering can be attained.
  4. The Way Leading to the Cessation of Suffering. There is a means to end the suffering.

The means to end the suffering is the Eightfold Path. It is the middle way between the two extremes of excessive self-indulgence and excessive self-mortification.


Monks, just as a pot without a stand is easy to tip over,
And a pot with a stand is hared to tip over,
So too the mind without a stand is easy to tip over,
And a mind with a stand is hard to tip over.
And what is the mind’s stand?
Just this noble eightfold path.
            Samyutta Nikaya XLV 27


The eight aspects of the path are not to be understood as a sequence of single steps, instead they are highly interdependent principles that have to be seen in relationship with each other. The eitht aspects give us direction in the following areas of our practice:

Wisdom – knowing what will bring beneficial results;
Ethical Action – knowing how to act; and
Mental Training – building strength of mind.