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I come from a culture where marriage is seen as a must. Both of my parents are good parents, they never harm me in anyway, took a very good care of me. I am now almost 30 and they really want me to get married and have a kid, they love children. I can't blame them because it's all they've ever known in their life -- once you become an adult, marriage and having a kid is a must. I am also the first child and have always been single in all my life.

However I don't see marriage as a necessity. I'm not very interested in sex nor having a kid. In my mind, I just want to live a single life so I can achieve financial freedom faster (no kids and wife) then I will donate to charities and spend my time doing things I enjoy instead of always chasing more money (it's tiring), I want to do more charity work than working for money. I take care of my parents but to take care a wife and kids I'm not very interested. Let's be realistic... kids are not cheap.

What's the Buddhism view on this..? am I egotistical?

3 Answers 3

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The sutta quote below explains the duties of lay children to their parents and parents to their children. It's based on the cultural norms of Indian society in 500 BCE.

Children should maintain the kulavamsa, which can be translated as "family traditions" and also as "family lineage" based on the PTS Pali-English dictionary entries on kula-vansa and vansa.

Parents should "connect their children with a suitable partner", implying arranged marriage, which again, is a common practice 2500 years ago in India.

A child should serve their parents as the eastern quarter in five ways, thinking: ‘I will support those who supported me. I’ll do my duty for them. I’ll maintain the family traditions. I’ll take care of the inheritance. When they have passed away, I’ll make an offering on their behalf.’

Parents served by the children in these five ways show compassion to them in five ways. They keep them from doing bad. They support them in doing good. They train them in a profession. They connect them with a suitable partner. They transfer the inheritance in due time. Parents served by their children in these five ways show compassion to them in these five ways. And that’s how the eastern quarter is covered, kept safe and free of peril.
Sigalovada Sutta or Singala Sutta (DN 31)

The same thing here:

“Bhikkhus, considering five prospects, mother and father wish for a son to be born in their family. What five? (1) ‘Having been supported by us, he will support us. (2) Or he will do work for us. (3) Our family lineage will be extended. (4) He will manage the inheritance, (5) or else, when we have passed on, he will give an offering on our behalf.’ Considering these five prospects, mother and father wish for a son to be born in their family.”
AN 5.39

This is of course not mandatory, as adults could also choose to become monks and anagarikas who obviously don't usually marry or have children. Anyone who marries and has children before becoming monks, would have to abandon their families in pursuit of the monastic life.

Also, it's important to note that one could become a monk or nun, only with the explicit permission of all their living parents. If your parents forbid you from becoming a monk, then you will never be allowed to join the monastic order.

For those interested in monasticism:

'I have sons, I have wealth' —
the fool torments himself.
When even he himself
doesn't belong to himself,
how then sons?
How wealth?
Dhp 62

Either way, one shouldn't waste their youth and should use it fruitfully. But the verse below talks about gaining wealth and not about getting married and having a family.

Neither living the chaste life
nor gaining wealth in their youth,
they waste away like old herons
in a dried-up lake
depleted of fish.

Neither living the chaste life
nor gaining wealth in their youth,
they lie around,
misfired from the bow,
sighing over old times.
Dhp 155 - 156

"Chaste life" above means holy life or monastic life.

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    You might also mention getting parents' permission before ordaining.
    – ChrisW
    Jan 24, 2023 at 15:13
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    @ChrisW Thanks Chris. That would be useful info.
    – ruben2020
    Jan 24, 2023 at 15:16
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    Regarding ordination, it is possible to change your parents' minds. For example, going on a hunger strike.
    – triplej
    Jan 24, 2023 at 18:11
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    @triplej Yes, I remember reading about a monk who convinced his parents by going on a hunger strike but I don't remember where I read this.
    – ruben2020
    Jan 25, 2023 at 0:42
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    @ruben2020 "Then Ratthapala, not getting his parents' permission to go forth from the household life into homelessness, lay down right there on the bare floor, [saying,] "Here will be my death or my going-forth." And he went without food for one day... two days... three days, four... five... six days. He went without food for seven days." ~ MN 82 (Ratthapala Sutta)
    – Damith
    Jan 29, 2023 at 12:05
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For practicing Buddhists, the Teachings of the Buddha provide only two options relating to sex:

  1. Celibacy
  2. Fidelity

If you wish to remain a celibate layperson, Buddhism does not discourage this. When the Teachings for laypeople encourage children to carry on the tradition of their parents, this naturally does not exclude becoming a monk or nun or remaining celibate. What it discourages is an immoral life.

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Get married or become a bikkhu/bikkhuni. you can look at Fidelity as an application of loving-kindness without condition for your spouse, an excellent way to train on your current turn of samsara. I cannot think of any Buddhist laypeople having any regrets on having children, another application of loving-kindness. I think the world needs more minds following the eight-fold path. The expense of a spouse, children, and family maybe high, but so is the reward. You will not regret it.

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  • "You will not regret it." This encouragement would be fine if the OP expressed doubts or hesitation. However, since they have made it clear that they have no interest in children, it's reasonable to assume they would regret it. To improve this answer, I feel you need to more directly address their key concern: that they have an obligation to fulfill and that they are being egoist by not fulfilling it.
    – Ohndei
    Jun 4, 2023 at 13:10

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