The Ritual of Dedication

A couple of years ago after experiencing a great tragedy in our family, I was looking to add a spiritual component to my life in some sort of official way. After doing some research, my husband and I attended a few services at a Unitarian Universalist church, and I found it to be exactly what I was seeking.

We were attracted to the open-minded and welcoming nature of the religion, and we appreciated the focus on inclusiveness, real world issues, and activism. Since then, we have enjoyed services that were centered around compelling topics such as the importance of green living, living with Alzheimer’s, learning to forgive, and following your instincts.

Baby Dedication

After our son was born in June 2010, we decided to have a dedication ceremony for him at our church. The term “dedication ceremony” is often used interchangeably with the terms “christening” or “baptism,” but it is, in fact, very different. It is an opportunity for parents to officially name their child through ritual. In addition, it is an occasion for parents to not only publicly dedicate themselves to their child, but also for parents to specify what kind of parents they want to be. The ceremony also offers the added bonus of allowing family, friends, and the community at large to dedicate themselves to the parents as a supportive network.

As a lover of words and a believer in the power of ritual, I relished the chance to write a script for the ceremony that conveyed the importance of our respect for our baby’s individuality and identity, his connection to all people, as well as the natural world, and our desire to parent sensitively with love and compassion.

Reflecting back, I think writing that ceremony and determining what kind of parent I wanted to publicly declare myself as provided me with a specific focus on natural parenting. It also felt very moving and powerful to stand up in front of our friends and family to let them know exactly what kind of new family unit we were forming and hoping to be.

As any parent who makes choices that may be considered to be against the grain knows, there are often questions and criticisms thrown your way. Having the opportunity to set forth our hopes and desires for the parenting of our son at the beginning of his life felt like a beautiful way to establish the foundation of our family. It was a chance to begin parenting with nothing but positivity, and I’m so thankful that we were able to feel the love and support of our loved ones in response. Our baby’s dedication will always be an empowering and beautiful memory for us.

Photo credit: Author

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Natural Parents Network is happy to present an ongoing series about “Belief and Parenting.” We welcome contributors from any faith (or no faith at all) to speak about how their spirituality affects the choices they make as parents: whether you are a Buddhist whose beliefs led you to gentle discipline, an atheist whose worldview encourages consensual living, a pagan who emphasizes the beauty and reverence of nature, a Christian who seeks biblical guidance, or if you’re walking another path entirely — please share your experiences with our natural parenting community. See our Contributor Guidelines for details on submissions, and then email Dionna {at} NaturalParentsNetwork {dot} com to submit your story.

About The Author: Charise Rohm Nulsen

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Charise Rohm Nulsen is the proud mama of a son born in June 2010 and a baby girl born in May 2012. She is also the author of I Thought I Knew Mama where she blogs about the adventures of stay at home mamahood, natural parenting, and green & healthy living.

4 Responses to The Ritual of Dedication

  1. Kelly  

    This sounds like a beautiful ceremony, Charise! I love that you got to write the script for it – I wish I would have thought of something more like that at my daughter’s dedication!

    It was still a very meaningful time for us though – we stood before friends and family and committed to raise her in the ‘irreligious way of Jesus’…

    Maybe with our next child I’ll add in more about natural parenting principles – I love the idea of expressing that foundation through ritual.

  2. Suzi  

    This is beautiful! Our family is spiritual but we have been turned off of organized religion and choose to find our own spiritual path. I love that you relate this ceremony to declaring what kind of parent you wish to be, if only more people had that much thought and introspection on their choices. Lovely!

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