I TAKE THEE CHILD
A PARENT'S VOWS

I TAKE THEE YOUNG ONE,
TO BE MY BELOVED CHILD

I TAKE THEE TO HAVE:
AS MY GOD GIVEN TRUST AND RESPONSIBILITY,
THIS MORTAL PARENTHOOD MY PROUD CALLING.

I TAKE THEE TO HOLD
CLOSE WHILE YOU ARE SMALL AND HELPLESS,
CLOSE AS YOU GROW
WHEN MY ARMS, EYES, EARS
MY HANDS, TONGUE AND HEART
CAN GIVE COMFORT,
BUT WITH PLIABLE HEART STRINGS,
NOT APRON STRINGS.

I TAKE THEE FOR BETTER
MY LIFE BETTER FOR YOUR BEING,
THE WORLD LOVLIER,
FOR PRIDE IN YOUR GROWTH,
FIRST STEPS, FIRST WORDS,
YOUR UNFOLDING TALENTS AND IDEAS,
FOR JOY, FOR FUN, FOR FRIEND AND COMPANION.

I TAKE THEE FOR WORSE:
WHENEVER NEED BE, NOT KNOWING NOW
ITS SHAPE.
IF IT TOUCH YOU AS SORE AFFLICTION
I SHALL SEEK GOD'S HELP TO LIGHTEN IT,
IF IT ENGULF US IN THE DARK OF DISPUTE
I SHALL RELIGHT OUR PATH WITH AFFECTION,
IF IT STRIKE AS CALAMITY OR DISGRACE
I SHALL NEVER FORSAKE YOU.

I TAKE THEE FOR RICHER:
RICHER NOW, I ENDOW THEE
WITH ALL MY WORLDLY GOODS.
WITH FOOD, CLOTHING AND SHELTER.
MORE: MY TIME, MY INNER SELF,
A GROWING PARENT.
WITH FAMILY AS YOUR RIGHTFUL INHERITANCE,
INTACT INSOFAR AS I CAN PRESERVE IT;
INVIOLABLE TIES WITH LOVED ONES,
PRIDE IN FOREBEARS, HUMBLE OR MIGHTY.
WITH HOME, WHERIN TO ENJOY
FAMILY AND FRIENDS
WHILE RETAINING RIGHTS
TO SOLITUDE.
WITH COUNTRY TO HONOR AND SERVE,
YOURS ITS RICH HERITAGE
AND POTENTIAL FUTURE.
WITH A WORLD OF GROWING HORIZONS
AND MULTITUDES AWAITING YOUR
PERSONAL OFFERING.
WITH MY RESPECT FOR YOUR
INDIVIDUALITY.
ENCOURAGEMENT TO DO FOR YOURSELF
WHAT YOU CAN DO,
FREE WILL TO CHOOSE ONE DAY
YOUR OWN LIFE'S WORK,
YOUR OWN LIFE'S PARTNER,
WHOM I SHALL WELCOME.
WITH LOYALTY, MYSELF YOUR STEADY
ADVOCATE.
WITH REVERENCE FOR OUR CREATOR,
SOURCE OF STRENGTH.

I TAKE THEE FOR POORER:
AND COUNT MYSELF NO MARTYR
IF I MUST SACRIFICE.
I DEDICATE MY WORK TO
YOUR OUTER NEEDS,
MY SHARED LEISURE TO YOUR
INNER YEARNINGS
SO YOU MAY LEARN THE DIGNITY
OF GIVING.

I TAKE THEE IN SICKNESS:
TO NURSE TENDERLY, GUARDING
YOUR PHYSICAL SAFETY
BY MY VIGILANCE, FORESIGHT
AND INSTRUCTION,
SPARING YOU NEGLECT ALWAYS,
SPARING YOU INJURY OF
HARSH PUNISHMENT.

I TAKE THEE IN HEALTH:
KNOWING HEALTH COMBINES SOUND
BODY, MIND AND SOUL.
I REGARD YOUR BODY AS
YOUR SPIRIT'S VESSEL,
TEACH YOU CLEANLINESS AND ZEST
FOR HEALTHFUL FOOD.
I DISSUADE SELF-INDULGENCE,
ENCOURAGE SELF- MASTERY
THROUGH BALANCED WORK, RECREATION
AND REPOSE.
I RESPECT LEARNING, PROVIDE ITS ATMOSPHERE
THAT YOU MAY SEEK AND EDUCATED MIND.
I FURTHER YOUR SKILLS,
ACCEPT YOUR LIMITATIONS, AND PUT NO
KINDRED CHILD BEFORE THEE...
OR AFTER.
I DISCIPLINE YOU SENSIBLY,
GUIDE YOU TO MORAL AND SOCIAL VALUES.
I ARM YOU AGAINST THE LURE OF FALSE BANNERS
BUT WELCOME THOSE WHO INSPIRE YOU
RIGHTFULLY.
I EXPLAIN LIFE'S PROCESSES AS SACRED
AND FOSTER THE HIGHEST ATTRIBUTES OF
YOUR SEX.
I STRIVE TO MODEL HEALTH'S DAILY THERAPY;
PRAISE FOR SUCCESS, SYMPATHY FOR FAILURE,
A CHEERFUL VOICE AND LAUGHTER WITHIN
A HAPPY HOME.
I OBSERVE ALL THINGS ABOUT YOU
AND KEEP THEM IN MY HEART...
AS COMPASS.

I TAKE THEE CHILD:
RESOLVING TO RENEW THESE VOWS DEVOUTLY,
REVIEWING MY OWN VALUES, LEST THEY DIM,
EXPRESSING SORROW WHEN I MISJUDGE YOU,
STARTING ANEW EACH TIME I FAIL.

IN LIEU OF A RING:
I PLEDGE YOU MY FIDELITY WITH A RING OF LOVE
TO ENCIRCLE US BOTH, WOVEN OF WORD AND DEED
AND THE SHINING THREAD OF SPIRIT.

By Dorothy Rose

For
Kateri,
Eric, and
Robin.
With a special thanks to
Sharon
for her inspiration.

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