Brandie Hadfield hugs her eldest son

Making Vows as Parents

Vows are promises to carry you through all the chapters of your life together as a team. These vows encompass personal choices and philosophies that intend to theme your relationship. Usually they will include being unconditional in your love, being faithful, and being patient.

We make these promises because we desire a compass point; some of us publicly recite these vows because we want to declare our love in front of our friends and family. The act of even writing down our vows can be a very emotional experience, giving us something tangible to refer back to when we encounter challenges.

Some way along my journey into motherhood, it occurred to me that I'd like to make parenthood vows with my husband. Kind of like re-writing our wedding vows to incorporate the bulk of what we are really doing -- being parents!

All the conversations and agreements made at midnight while we gaze adoringly at our sleeping baby... I wanted these intentions captured somehow.

The 8 principals of attachment parenting are a wonderful framework for these parental vows:

  1. Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting
  2. Feed with Love and Respect
  3. Respond with Sensitivity
  4. Use Nurturing Touch
  5. Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally
  6. Provide Consistent and Loving Care
  7. Practice Positive Discipline
  8. Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life

My husband and I decided to build off of these principals while incorporating our existing wedding vows. By doing so, these vows became unique to our family.

We promise to continually educate ourselves on child psychology, while keeping in tune with your personal development. We will practice positive discipline and refrain from aggression and force, as we model the respectful behaviour we are teaching you.

We will prepare and update our home environment with educational opportunities, while remaining flexible about your learning.

We'll renew our family museum memberships annually, and get outside as often as possible!

Our home will always be filled with love, and no one in our home will go without a hug, kiss or cuddle when they need it. We will always have a safe place for you to regroup.

When any of our behaviour gets out of whack, we'll apply the "Stop, Look, Listen" rule and get behind each other’s eyes with respect and empathy.

Sleep is a sacred time, and we will help you for as long as you need, to feel safe and secure about entering into sleep.

Meal times are happy times of connection. We make sure you will always have nutritious options. We promise to take care of ourselves so that we are fueled physically and emotionally to care for you, the best that we can.

We will be flexible and creative about earning a living while being able to ensure your primary caregiver is one of your parents. We will be diligent about ensuring alternate caregivers and teachers are people who provide consistent, loving care, and with whom you feel at home with.

Above all else we promise to live our lives with love.

We don't think we are going to recite these vows to our son. They are just for my husband and I to hold on to for now. Perhaps we will share them when and if our child(ren) decide to start families of their own. Parenthood is a personal journey and everyone has different challenges and unique philosophies.

Making your decisions based out of love, and beginning with clear self-directed guidance is sure to keep you heading in the right direction. If you think about it, we rarely go somewhere new without mapping to find out the way to get there.

How about you? Would you write “Parental Vows” to your future or existing children? What would you include?

Marriage is as much work as parenting. Our relationships deserve a support system too! This course, the Couple’s Tune Up led by my friend, psychologist Allison Villa, has played an instrumental role in my partnership with my husband Neville, and has helped countless other couples. If you’re wanting to get clear on your values and re-connect with your spouse or partner, you’ll definitely want to check it out: Couple’s Tune-Up.

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