Northwestern Events Calendar


Dr. Natasha Heller, "What is Buddhist Parenting, and Where Do We Find It?"

When: Friday, November 12, 2021
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM CT

Where: Online

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Graduate Students

Contact: Joshua Shelton  

Group: The Khyentse Foundation Buddhist Studies Lecture Series

Category: Academic


In this talk, Dr. Heller will explore how parenting is presented in Taiwanese Buddhist literature both for adults and for children. First, essays by Buddhist parents and Buddhist parenting guides provide examples of how to understand Buddhism within the lived reality of childrearing. These texts assert that everyday interactions with children can providing learning opportunities for adults, with the child’s perspective often aligned with that of Buddhist teachers. Second, modern discourses on parenting also appear within picture books through the inclusion of paratextual elements aimed at adult readers, and through depictions of families that offer templates for parent-child relations. Parenting guides and children’s literature each in their own way reflect the tensions of modern parenting, which seeks to balance academic success and childhood freedoms, and family life with external obligations. Addressing these tensions, Buddhist parenting is as much about redefining parent-child relations as it is about imparting Buddhist teachings the next generation. Taiwanese Buddhist literature presents modern Buddhist parenting as child-centered, and childrearing as a site for Buddhist practice.

Natasha Heller teaches in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia, and her research focus is Chinese Buddhism in the context of cultural and intellectual history, in both both the pre-modern period (10th through 14th c.) and the contemporary era.

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