What about love?
In today’s world with so many blended families, of her child, his child, their child or any combination thereof, how should a Buddhist treat their new son or daughter? A Buddhist would consider the blessing of his new wife’s children from a previous relationship the same as if they have any together. Buddha told us to love our foes, the same as we love our friends. Before becoming a part of the child’s life, you should be fairly sure the adult relationship has a good chance of being permanent. Having a string of temporary parents in one’s life as a child, is not a good situation. Children quickly develop bonds, with those that treat them well. As a Buddhist we would strive to treat the child of our new spouse properly. To show them love, as if they were our own flesh and blood. One issue that comes up is discipline of step children. My view for now is to follow the biological parents lead, unless it would cause harm to the child. I would discuss the rules and boundaries that are expected of their child, and respect them, except as I say if there was harm being done to the child. Children naturally will test parents to see what they can get away with. They will respect a boundary or prohibition if they see it is fair, just and consistent. Parts of consistent being that both parents are in agreement. If one parent says no ice cream after dinner, and the other parent then takes the child out for ice cream, knowing this the child now has the upper hand. If one parent says no to a child, then the child goes and asks the other parent to make the same request, there needs to be a clear understanding made that this in unacceptable. It may require the parents discussing the situation to avoid any further incidents, and clarifying the do’s and don’ts allowed the child at that point. Here we would generally defer to the wife and mother on these situations, as she is in charge of the home life. As a husband we are to yield our authority in the household to supporting our wife’s authority. Keeping this in mind, when looking at a lady as a potential mate, is important. She needs to be able to balance tradition with the demands of the modern world. Be strong enough in her own right, to if required tell you when you are mistaken, or have done wrong. Yet she has to be kind, gentle and forgiving about the things that happen, or you will both be living in the past, a past full of mistakes. You both need to be of the mind, that having found a good match, you do not expect perfection from each other, but rather accept the other as they are. You both must agree that if there when problems arise to talk to each other, not complain to friends while keeping silent to each other. Each should show compassion to the other every day, and try to do the little things that bring a smile to each other’s face. Share as much time together each day, while allowing each other personal space as needed, as well as friends outside the relationship. One thing my parents did, which I think was good, was even those times where their disagreements lasted more than a day; they still said I love you to each other every day. This was not a common occurrence as they both preferred peace and harmony at home. More than once I remember them laughing, as they were both yielding to the other’s view on the disagreed point! They both had the ability to look at something and say, is getting my own way really that important in the long run?