By Susan Ford Collins
Infants’ capabilities are limited. They can move, fuss, cry or smile. But they can’t feed themselves, change their diapers or safely get in and out of their cribs. In this stage of life, they’re totally dependent on us to figure out what they need, to make time to meet their needs completely, and to replace ourselves appropriately when we have other responsibilities.
The choice to have children is one that impacts the rest of our lives. It requires five years of being totallyresponsible and sixteen more years of being heavily responsible, an even harder job since we’re not always there with them at that stage. And it’s demanding financially too. It takes $100,000 to $500,000 plus to pay for a child’s health and education.
Have you seen the Nyquil commercial where a man wakes up feeling awful and seems to be asking his boss for a sick day? As the view widens, we realize he’s asking for the day off... from his son who is standing up in his crib! Fun but true. In good times and bad, in sickness and health, there are no days off from parenting! With all this responsibility in mind, something seems to be missing.
It’s time to create a new tradition—Parenting Vows
We promise to love, honor and cherish when we marry. But there are no vows when we create a new life!
It’s time to initiate a new tradition—Parenting Vows—sacred vows that affirm our mutual willingness to be responsible for our children's lives. Let us vow to support their growth and future contributions forever. Then, if one of us dies or we decide to live apart, our children will truly know that the form of our relationship has changed. But our love for them hasn't.
Before that precious moment of choosing to parent, let us make a solemn promise to each other…
Repeat after me...
No matter what—no matter how much money we have or we don't have, no matter how much time we have or we don't have, no matter what happens in our lives or what doesn't happen—we will make certain that our child is supervised, safe and secure. That he or she will have the support and independence needed to develop skills and gain experience. And that—no matter what—we will parent so he or she will be able to lead our families and our society in new directions in the years to come.
We promise to manage our lives and relationships so we can meet the parenting needs of our child—whether we are living together or apart— until death do us part.
(c) Susan Ford Collins. Contact me for permission to use it.
* For more on Parenting Vows, read The Gate to Fulfillment: Beyond Personal Success, the final chapter in Our Children Are Watching: 10 Skills for Leading the Next Generation to Success.
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