Buddhist Studies for secondary students
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Unit 7: Family and Society

Responsibilities Within the Family

When members of the family love and respect one another, the home will be as beautiful as a flower garden. But if they are constantly in conflict with one another, the home becomes like a garden after a storm. When discord arises within the family, its members should ask themselves whether they have shown concern for each other by carrying out their respective responsibilities, whether as a parent, child, husband or wife.

(a) Between Parent and Child

There is happiness and harmony in the home when parents do their best in bringing up their children, taking good care of them and educating them, and when the children appreciate their parents' efforts in providing for their security and well-being. Filial love is a form of respect that children have for their parents. A child may express his gratitude and respect towards his parents by:

(i) supporting them; (ii) taking upon himself the duties that they have to perform; (iii) protecting the family property; (iv) preserving the family honour; (v) making offerings in honour of them and transferring merits to them after their death.

The feeling of parents towards their children is one of tender compassion. Parents protect their children and wish them well. Parents can guide and help their children by:

(i) restraining them from unwholesome behaviour; (ii) teaching them moral values; (iii) providing for their education; (iv) helping them to make a good marriage; (v) letting them inherit the family wealth at a proper time.

(b) Between Husband and Wife

Marriage is a partnership that allows the husband and wife to share their individual strengths and talents. As husband and wife form the nucleus of the family, a harmonious and successful marriage contributes to the stability and happiness of the family as a whole. An ideal marriage can be achieved if a husband shows love and respect for his wife by:

(i) being courteous to her; (ii) appreciating her; (iii) being faithful to her; (iv) sharing authority with her in family matters; (v) giving her presents.

In return, the wife should reciprocate with love and respect for her husband and assist him by:

(i) managing the household well; (ii) being hospitable to his friends and relatives; (iii) being faithful to him; (iv) taking care of the wealth of the family; (v) being industrious in her work.

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