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August 14, 1999
Devotion Ceremony FAQ
Who can do this ceremony?
Go to Devotion Ceremony homeAny responsible adult who loves and has a long-term commitment to a child. In addition to biological parents this includes adoptive parents and stepparents. If a stepparent, the individual making the oath has to realize that the commitment is long-term and should transcend the relationship with the child's biological parent. No matter what happens, the devotion has to endure. Otherwise, the individual should not participate in the ceremony. The word parent is defined here comprehensively. If you are willing to claim responsibility for a child that will endure for the rest of your life, then you are that child's parent.

High school students and others considering whether to become parents might also benefit from reviewing this material.
Oaths make me nervous.
Good. This is a VERY serious matter. Read the annotated devotion to review the meaning behind the words. Think long and hard before conducting the ceremony. Realize that this statement has to transcend everything that might happen in your life--the child's rejection, distance, divorce from the other parent, anything. This is a serious commitment based on love and personal honor. It is total. Only death breaks the oath. A child needs to feel this love and commitment in their bones.
Can I do it with more than one child?
Absolutely. But each child should feel special if he or she is old enough to recognize what is happening. The devotion should be read for each child by each parent. If you have several children you could consider conducting more than one ceremony, starting with the oldest.
What ages do the children need to be?
Any age child. During a speaking engagement in Atchison Kansas I was approached by a mother who recently became a single parent. She inquired about performing this devotional ceremony for her ten-year-old and six-year-old. She felt both needed to hear her clear and emphatic commitment of love. Doing the ceremony in front of friends would deepen the impact and let them know about her love as well. I felt too that friends who participated might feel a greater sense of responsibility for supporting her through her ordeal as well.
Are witnesses necessary?
Yes. Their presence lends seriousness to a vow and their signatures on the document make make it more important for children, especially as they grow older. I would suggest a minimum of three supportive witnesses.
Can I change the words to the devotion?
The effectiveness of any ceremony depends on consistency. By reading the devotion as it is written, you are joining a community of parents who feel the way you do toward their children. The words echo across time and place, bringing participants together. We need shared experiences like this to unite us under a common commitment of devotion. Simple substitutions may be necessary for some. Atheists, for example, my choose to skip the words God willing as they read the devotion. Because the devotion is an oath of commitment, a reader must believe what they are saying throughout every fiber of their body.
Can I do this as part of a religious service?
Definitely. I have tried to make the devotion nondenominational. A parent, for example, might conduct the ceremony as part of a baptism. If a large number of witnesses are present, ask for a smaller number to step forward to be signing witnesses if you wish.
I'm interested but the child's other parent is not.
That is unfortunate, especially if the other parent continues to live at home. I can imagine that this occasion could precipitate soul-searching and considerable conflict. If so, I hope you seek professional help in your relationship. Regardless, the critical issue is that a child has at least one parent who stands up before others and says, I love this child so much, I make a lifetime commitment to him (or her). If one parent does not feel this way, it is better to deal with this honestly, rather than pressure this person to give lip service to an oath they do not feel.
Is framing the devotion necessary?
I like the idea of a child seeing this devotion on their bedroom wall. I like the idea of a child having this certificate as they grow through adulthood. If you do not want to display it, then that is your choice. Other than protecting and respecting the copyright for the Devotion and supporting documentation, you are not obligated to anything. I can imagine that there are many, many wonderful ways of creating a joyful ceremony and follow-up. If you have other ideas, I'd love to hear from you.
Is there a cost?
I have a great debt of love that has nurtured me and brought me joy in my life. This Ceremony of Devotion is a small way to pay back the love I have received. No, there is no cost. The devotion and all the written material here is copyrighted. You are not allowed to commercialize this idea. You may NOT charge for it if you give this resource to someone else. This is very serious matter of the heart for me.
Is the Devotion copyrighted?
Yes. You may print copies for yourself and your friends. You may retype and make your own certificates for framing. All copies of the Devotion must have the following in small print at the bottom: Copyright 1998 Charles A. Smith. Describing the idea in newsletters, newspaper articles, news releases and giving parents the website address is encouraged. No permission needed for that.
Is there a cost to do this?
No. You may conduct the ceremony using the Devotion provided at this site and following its instructions at no charge. I am not interested in making money on this at all. It is illegal for you to charge anything for this material if you make it available to a friend or group. It must be completely and totally free. If you want to distribute it to a group, you MUST contact me prior to doing so for an additional set of expectations. Distributing it widely without such permission is illegal.
Will the devotion be updated?
Be sure to bookmark this FAQ for future updates. Check the date at the top of this page. I may update the actual Devotion one time after receiving feedback regarding its use. I hope not since this statement should remain constant. Small cards with this website address are available by mail if you want to circulate information about the Devotion Ceremony. Be sure to examine other pages listed in the links immediately below this table.
[Devotion Ceremony Home][Description][FAQ][Notes][Devotions]
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Author Informationhttp://www.ksu.edu/wwparent/programs/devotion/dev-faq.htm-- Revised: August 14, 1999
Copyright © 1996-1999 Charles A. Smith. All rights reserved.