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Transformative Parenting:
From Caning to Connection and Growth

Lee Choy Foong, Kuala Lumpur

The countless faith experiences I encountered during discussion meetings consistently reinforced the wisdom of SGI President Ikeda's teachings: 'As long as I change myself, the environment will change.' Consequently, I started to firmly believe that I too could bring about transformative changes.

Lee Choy FongMy children have always been very active and boisterous ever since they were able to walk and run around. Sometimes they would even fight with each other.

I had adopted the similar discipline I had when I was young onto my children. If my scolding yielded no effects, I’d immediately make use of the cane just as my mother did with my siblings and me.

When we were young, if one of us misbehaved, my mother would lock us all in a room and punish us.

Despite such a form of discipline, we still lived a safe and joyful life, growing up together. Therefore, it became ingrained in my mind that such disciplinary actions worked well in ensuring that children would behave appropriately and were necessary for their growth.

However, my children are entirely different. They exhibit a very high level of resistance. Even after employing a similar method as my mother, my daughter would express her intention to report to the police or run away from home.

I was taken aback by her reaction and my heart ached from her words. It felt unfair as I was trying to make a living for the family while they were misbehaving.

As such, our relationship grew tense, which left me feeling depressed. The more I resorted to using the cane on them, the heavier the burden on my heart became, ultimately detrimental to their childhood and the overall atmosphere at home.

I realised if I could go back in time, I would never have resorted to using the cane. Fortunately, I was introduced to Nichiren Buddhism and the Soka Gakkai which revolutionised my concept of family education and transformed my life.

First Benefit of Practising Faith

Ever since I got married, I had made a promise to my husband, who has been practicing Nichiren Buddhism, to embrace the faith. However, I only recited three daimoku each day.

When my eldest son was born, he suffocated for a few seconds due to swallowing amniotic fluid which was stained with meconium. As a result, right after birth, he needed oxygen supply and constant monitoring by the doctors. Fortunately, there was no other serious problem. However, as a new mother, I was totally overwhelmed.

At the same time, my elder daughter had been crying a lot since infancy. I tried various methods but none of them succeeded.

I lacked confidence when I became pregnant for the third time, worried that the new child would bring more challenges. Just when I was feeling down, a senior in faith from the women’s division visited me. Based on her own parenting experience, she encouraged me to set a prayer goal for the smooth delivery of my child.

Chanting with this goal in mind, the childbirth and my youngest daughter’s early months went well. She consistently slept through the night, allowing me to rest.

This positive experience deepened my faith in Nichiren Buddhism, and I started practicing it more seriously.

Lee Choy Foong

Growth through Soka Gakkai Activities

While chanting, I would often calmly reflect on life and gradually came to see my own faults.

In the past, when my child would disobey or not listen, I would scold them. I wanted to control everything, but in reality, I was controlled by anger and the environment.

The countless faith experiences I encountered during discussion meetings consistently reinforced the wisdom of SGI President Ikeda‘s teachings: ‘As long as I change myself, the environment will change.’ Consequently, I started to firmly believe that I too could bring about transformative changes.

I also started to wonder how I could make my children more willing to get close to me, and I learned to communicate better with them through my experiences nurturing the junior division members.

I followed the guidance of my seniors in faith by home-visiting members, which boosted my self-confidence and strengthened my conviction in the Gohonzon. After assuming leadership responsibilities, I initiated contact with members, organised meetings, and engaged in dialogues repeatedly, and my heart began to transform. I no longer felt discontent with my surroundings; instead, I am filled with gratitude. I learnt to encourage others just as how members encouraged and supported me, allowing me to move forward during my troubling times.

I discovered that while it appeared that I was encouraging others, I was in fact more profoundly encouraged in return. Before I knew it, my children and I began to have a closer bond.

Lee Choy Foong

Advancing Together as Husband and Wife

My husband and I used to quarrel a lot over financial matters. After chanting together, we now walk the same path hand-in-hand and have overcome several financial difficulties.

We prayed fervently when he was unemployed, and it led to him securing a job opportunity despite his age.

My prayer goal has now shifted to wishing for all my children to attend university. Moreover, sharing Nichiren Buddhism has become a daily practice in my life. Recently, a friend confided in me about his child’s issues, and I confidently advised him that through active communication with his child, they could overcome these challenges.

I will continue spreading words of encouragement to bring smiles of joy and happiness to those around me.

While the canes still occupy visible spots in my home, they serve no practical purpose. Instead, they’ve transformed into symbolic mementos that inspire and drive me forward.

Adapted from Cosmic January 2023

Siow Yoon Kee had a long-standing ambition to become a doctor since his secondary school days. However, his motivation to save lives had not taken deep root.

During his college years, he battled gastrointestinal diseases and sought medical treatment from numerous doctors but to no avail. Coupled with a demanding schedule, he experienced immense stress and despair, even contemplating ending his life. Eventually, through the power of chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo (daimoku), he realised that his illness was a consequence of an irregular lifestyle, and acknowledged his own arrogance and negligence in his faith. This profound experience led to a shift in his perspective on the purpose of becoming a doctor.

After graduating, he was filled with joy and excitement on his first day of work, being addressed as a doctor. However, that excitement didn’t last. The overwhelming workload, long hours, and the constant fear of being reprimanded for mistakes quickly diminished his initial joy. As a result, the tough realities of the job made him less motivated and less excited about the work he had to do.

Yoon Kee reflected, “I would feel annoyed by patients, especially during night shifts when they complained of pain. I would question them with a skeptical tone. It seemed like I had become a terrible doctor, losing my passion for the job. During those unpleasant days, it was through repeatedly chanting the daimoku that I gradually reflected on my own attitude.”

“I recall a training session for the Beacon Group, a medical group within Soka Gakkai Malaysia, where our seniors encouraged us to face the Gohonzon with our most authentic selves. Inspired by their guidance, I wholeheartedly put it into practice and truly felt the profound joy that daimoku brings. Chanting the daimoku is indeed the greatest of all joys.”

Doctor Siow Yoon Kee

The power of daimoku awakened a profound sense of compassion in Yoon Kee, inspiring him to strive in his human revolution and towards becoming a doctor who could genuinely listen to his patients’ voices.

“After a change in mindset, it was incredible how I found myself wanting to treat patients like family and making an effort to truly listen to their words. My colleagues also noticed that I was more energetic and confident.”

However, transformation takes time and effort. Yoon Kee realised that the biggest hurdle for a doctor is their own sense of superiority. Therefore, his aim was to cultivate resilience and to serve selflessly without seeking personal gain. With the goal of becoming a skilled listener, step by step he made steady progress.

“Once, there was a patient in the final stages of cancer who told me he felt hungry and wanted something to eat. Although I was busy with work, I took a couple of minutes to feed the patient before tending to other patients and resuming my duties. Sadly, the patient passed away thirty minutes later. It was a moment that made me appreciate the power and significance of chanting daimoku, as it enabled me to be there at a crucial time and fulfill the patient’s last wish.

“On another occasion, there was a patient who complained to me, pointing out, “You see, my hands are still swollen, and the medication you prescribed is not effective!” In that moment, I patiently reassured the patient, emphasizing the importance of trusting in the medication’s effectiveness. I assured them that if they maintained their belief, they would experience improvement quickly. As a result, after a few days, the patient’s hand recovered, and the swelling subsided.”

Yoon Kee’s transformation became increasingly apparent over time. Through the practice of faith, he has been forged into becoming a doctor with a sense of mission who confronts the challenges of society with determination. While he humbly recognizes his own areas for growth, he consistently emphasises his resolute dedication to becoming a proficient listener and continuously improving himself.

Adapted from Cosmic May 2017