The Bodhisatta was once a poor man. When his father died, he supported his mother. Shortly before she died, she forced the Bodhisatta into a marriage against his will. Not long after this, the Bodhisatta decided to renounce the world and live as an ascetic. But when he told his wife she needed to find a job and earn her own living, she revealed that she was pregnant and asked him to wait until after his child was born. He agreed.
After the birth, the Bodhisatta announced that he was leaving, but his wife asked him to stay until their child was weaned, and again he agreed. But soon after this, she conceived again, and the Bodhisatta knew she would ask him once more to stay behind for his second child, so he fled in the middle of the night without telling her. He tricked the city guards and got out through the main gate and went to the Himalayas. Joyful at having broken his family bonds, leaving love and desire behind, he reached supernatural attainment and was later reborn in heaven.
In the Lifetime of the Buddha
Thirty disciples from the countryside visited the Buddha at his monastery. The next morning as they did their alms round, they passed a prison and saw thieves and murderers bound in chains and in great misery. They asked the Buddha if there was any bond greater than this. He answered that the bond of craving wealth, food, and family is a thousand times stronger, and then he told this story to illustrate his point.
The Bodhisatta’s father, mother, wife, and son were earlier births of the Buddha’s father, birth mother, wife, and son.