The Ritual of Dedication: How We Welcomed Our New Baby

by Charise Rohm Nulsen

This post was originally published on Natural Parents Network in May 2011. After a night of contractions and anticipating our second baby’s arrival, I’m thinking back to how we welcomed Baby into our family at large in October of 2010.

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

Here is the poem I wrote for Baby’s dedication – the very same poem that inspired me to start this blog and to name it I Thought I Knew Mama: I Thought I Knew

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Christine @ African Babies Don't Cry May 22, 2012 at 4:09 pm

This sounds lovely Charise, what a great way to welcome baby into the family :)
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2 OneMommy May 23, 2012 at 5:13 pm

A beautiful way to welcome baby…
Hoping all goes well for you with your newest arrival!
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3 Amy May 24, 2012 at 6:40 am

Thank you, Charise, this is lovely! :)
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4 Laura June 21, 2012 at 5:16 pm

A baby’s dedication, baptism or christening is truly a beautiful memory to us parents.
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