As of writing it is the month of March, or in the traditional calendar of Japan, the month of Yayoi (弥生, “new life”). We frequently get certain Buddhist-themed calendars from Japan every year due to my wife’s family’s connections, in particular the Honobono calendar series.
In addition to the terrific artwork, each month has some bit of Buddhist wisdom on the right hand side. This month’s is the following text:
What this is basically saying is that through their children, parents learn to be parents. In a positive sense, this means that both parent and child grow together.
Parents can learn a lot about themselves from their kids, even when this is not always pleasant. It forces us to confront some petty and selfish aspects of ourselves, but if we reflect on it, we can grow too, just like our kids. I know from personal experience, when my firstborn daughter was 3 months old, I made a resolution to uphold the Buddhist teachings a lot more, especially the Five Precepts, and stop being such an immature, man-child. This process for growth took many twists and turns, but I like to think that I did grow as a person through my own kids.
Compare this to a well-known proverb in Japanese: kodomo wa oya no kagami (子供は親の鏡) meaning that children are a mirror of their parents. The latter though, tends to have a more practical, negative explanation why some kids are just poorly raised: it reflects their parents’ lack of maturity and poor personalities.