Families and Children

Expecting and welcoming a child is one of life’s greatest joys. It is normal to have a whole range of emotions, anxieties and expectations during this time. Becoming a parent requires support, resilience and stamina whether through a pregnancy or adoption.

Ceremonies to support expectant parents are increasingly popular alternatives to the traditional baby shower, in that they focus on the expectant parents’ needs. Many women and men report feeling more connected to their baby and more relaxed in themselves after such ceremonies.

Parent Blessings are ceremonies dedicated to the expectant parent or parents and are performed during the gestation or, in the case of adoption, waiting period. The purpose of this ceremony is to nurture and attend to the physical and psychological needs of the expectant parent. Massage, song, readings and symbolic rituals are included. Expectations and fears of parenthood are heard, as well as the personal stories of how this child came to be. The goal is mainly to ease the transition, to prepare the community for its new members and to acknowledge the special quality of this time. The ceremony is traditionally done in the last stage of pregnancy or waiting for adoption.

Baby welcoming/naming ceremonies are conducted soon after the child arrives. Ideally done in the presence of the family and friends, the baby is welcomed into the world with vows and wishes and symbolic gifts. The changing roles to parents, siblings, grandparents, guide-parents, etc. are also acknowledged and honored. The community accepts responsibility for helping raise the child, as well.

Coming-of-Age ceremonies. Unlike many more traditional cultures, our culture offers little in the way of recognizing and acknowledging the important passage from childhood into adulthood. The inner and out changes occurring have tremendous impact on the unfolding relationships, responsibilities, and future of the adolescent boy or girl. Coming –of-age ceremonies offer an opportunity for a young person to take conscious steps in assuming new roles, responsibilities and relationships. The ceremony usually involves a community service or independent project, which is reported back to the community. The young person collaborates with the process  of creating the ceremony, and it is expected that he or she will be recognized for this achievement. The coming-of-age ceremony signifies the end of childhood and the beginning of moving  into adulthood. It can have a positive and profound effect on both the individual, the family and the community.

Coming-Out ceremonies are just beginning to occur in our communities. For a young person who chooses this ceremony, it can hold tremendous meaning. To be supported and acknowledged at a young age for who you are, can contribute greatly to a sense of stability and strength. Coming-out ceremonies are done collaboratively with the child and his or her family and can be a part of their coming-of-age ceremony, as well.

Families and Children