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Memphis Daily News
Ritualizing Your Parenthood
September 22, 2014
By Dr. Mary C. McDonald

We are people of ceremony and ritual. Every occasion of transition is cause for celebration. A prescribed formula marks our rite of passage from one status to another.
Significant milestones are pronounced by traditional words stating our readiness to take on the new responsibility. Marriage, membership initiations, military inductions, oaths of office, graduations, even citizenship, are all marked by ritual.
All the new responsibilities are accounted for, all but one of the most significant, parenthood. However, the responsibility of parenthood, of this new role in being family, is the most significant a person will have.
We need to recognize the rights and responsibilities of parents, and affirm and support them in raising their children. Being a parent needs a ritual that will strengthen and guide them through challenging and uncertain times.
If your parenthood has not been “ritualized” yet, may I suggest the following ritual:
By the authority vested in me by God, I am pronounced a parent.
I give up the right to remain silent. Anything I neglect to say or do that will help my child to become a better person, can, and will, be held against me in the court of heaven.
I have the right to say “I love you.”
I have the right to say “no.”
I have the right to exercise my judgment as a parent, free from the pressures of my peers and society.
I have the right to openly struggle to live faith within the circumstances of our unique family life.
I have the right to freely give my child acceptance for who he/she is, not what he/she does.
I have the right to simplify our family life by deciding, realistically, what we want to do and what we have time to do.
I have the right to put God in the center of my life and the life of my family.
I have the responsibility to speak out against the evil that diminishes the value of all life.
I have the responsibility to provide my child with the lasting gifts of positive role models, beginning with myself.
I will use my God-given parental instincts to guide me in the choices I make for my child. Before major decisions, I will pray, weigh the consequences and seek to bring out the best in all involved.
I will respect my child’s other parent.
I relinquish the right to reach back through the mist of my past to relive in my child what was never lived in me.
I relinquish my rigid attachment to a specific outcome, and will live in the wisdom of uncertainty.
I will relinquish my authority as a parent only to my child, and only after he/she proves his/her ability to accept the responsibilities of a mature adult.
I am guided by love, supported by prayer, strengthened by faith and encouraged by God’s trust in me, a parent.
Having declared this, I will go forth and parent, so help me God.
Try it. It could be a ritual that works.

Contact Dr. Mary C. McDonald, a national education consultant, at 574-2956 or visit

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