Part 2: Human Revolution
Chapter 13: “Faith for a Harmonious Family” [13.5]

13.5 Accepting Others for Who They Are

President Ikeda explains that good parenting begins with recognizing and accepting children for who they are.

Many children today say that they don’t feel as if they belong anywhere, that there is nowhere they can feel completely accepted. This may be because many families have adopted the value criteria of schools and businesses, always measuring and ranking children against some standard of performance or excellence.

Children feel that the harder they try to please their parents, the more their parents expect of them. When they ask why such demands are being made on them, their parents say: “It’s for your own future,” or “I demand so much of you because I love you.” This can lead to children coming to see themselves as worthless and falling into despair because they can’t live up to their parents’ love and expectations. Such feelings of inadequacy or even self-loathing build up and cause children great suffering.

The cheerless view of life presented by parents who can only express their love for their children by scolding them to “study harder” may itself be the root cause of children’s anger and frustration.

The first step is to recognize, accept, and embrace your children for who they are. Don’t force your idealized image of the perfect child on them. Make sure they know you love them for who they are, not because they are well-behaved or get good grades in school. Give them all the love they need, and assure them that whatever they may do, you are their greatest friend and ally.

That’s the way to enable children to learn to love themselves, and children who love themselves can nurture and develop themselves.

If children can learn to think for themselves, questioning why they are doing something, and motivate themselves to contribute to the happiness and welfare of others, they will be unstoppable. This will be all the more so if parents set such an example through their own behavior and actions.

From an essay series “Looking toward the Future—Dialogues with Leaders from Various Fields,” published in Japanese in the Daibyakurenge, March 2000.

The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works on key themes.