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Devotion Ceremony Annotated Notes

Go to Devotion Ceremony homeI stand here holding you, my [son][daughter], [name] Physical contact is important. A baby can be held in one's arms. An older child can stand in front of the parent whose arm is wrapped around his or her shoulder. The child is named to give emphasis to the devotion.
And I make this vow before our friends who are present as witnesses to my devotion. Witnesses make the ceremony more credible. Plus, those in attendance may be motivated to be more supportive of the parent by virtue of their participation.
As earth stands firmly below me [father] The earth implies strength, firmness, resoluteness.
As my heart nurtures you with life [mother] I wanted to make two lines special and different for each parent. I wanted to convey the feeling that mothers nourished a child from conception. In my opinion, even an adoptive mother can have this very physical and emotional connection with a child.
And heaven sends hope from above, [father] The heaven's above often represent anticipation, longing, and hope. Heaven provides a counterpoint to earth in the previous line.
And my soul embraces you with love, [mother] Because of the special nature of mother and child, I decided to use this phrase. Embrace is a very physical word.
I do swear to assume the responsibilities of being your father [or mother]-- What follows is an elaboration of this declaration.
To cherish you to the very end of my days This is clearly a long-term commitment, one that will last until death.
And beyond, God willing; This love is so strong, that the heart yearns for it to endure after death.
To place your welfare above my own; The love is so strong that personal sacrifice will be necessary. Note that the word is place, not replace. Parents still have personal needs that are important and should be addressed. One does not have to sacrifice one's personhood to be a parent. But the priority here is on the needs of children.
To care for you when you are sick This responsibility, as difficult as it can be, is central to being a parent. A sick child is not convenient. A sick child is a combination of worry punctuated by moments of terror, folded into heaps of exhaustion.
And to protect you from danger; Parents have to be vigilant. On occasion we may have to set and maintain protective limits for children. Letting them do anything they want, even when they insist, can put them at risk and is a failure in protection. We can be overly protective however. Without any experience dealing with risk, children may be vulnerable when it occurs unexpectedly. Protecting them means teaching them to manage risk.
To hold you when you need to be loved; I once had a father tell me that he was afraid to be seen in town with his arm around his teenage daughter. Children need to experience the loving touches and embraces of a parent. Being responsive to what the child needs and seeks is the key. Older children may not want a parent touching them, especially in public. The wise parent is patient here.
To celebrate your joy during good times and stand by your side during bad; Of course life has its ups and downs. Children need their parents the most during their darkest moments. Everyone else may give up and leave them. But the parent who stands by a child shows faith. This may be all a child needs to persevere. Standing by may mean many things, possibly even loving confrontation.
To serve as your compass to show you the way as best as I know it to be; Every child needs a parent who is willing to clearly express what they believe is right and wrong. Children need to hear a voice that they can adopt as their own inside their own minds as they grow up. But no parent is perfect. Each of us is working hard to be the best parent we can be.
And to bring strength and justice to the firmness of my convictions. Children need parents who are courageous, who earn respect by standing up for their convictions. Every child wants to look up to their mothers and fathers with pride. This means standing for what we believe necessary in a loving but firm way. Children are very conscious of injustice. Fairness is very important in setting limits and responding when we are tested.
I do make this oath of my own free will This is extremely important. The entire ceremony is a sham if this statement is read insincerely under pressure. A great deal of thought and reflection should be done before participating in the Devotion Ceremony.
Out of love for you my [son][daughter], [name]. The oath is made out of love and devotion for the child, not for personal gain. The child is named a second time to give added emphasis to the declaration.
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Author Informationhttp://www.ksu.edu/wwparent/programs/devotion/dev-note.htm-- Revised: August 14, 1999
Copyright © 1996-1999 Charles A. Smith. All rights reserved.