Ah, children and ceremonies: delight some people and fill others with the determination to ban them.
Declaring my feelings ~ I love them! Yes, they can be show-stealers (but only for a few moments); yes, the tiny ones can be disruptive and cry (their parents just need to be assured it is fine to leave the ceremony space to calm them, returning when their small person is ready) and yes, at very formal ceremonies they can get bored (but much less likely at relaxed ones with lots happening). And obviously you have to do what works for you in relation to other people's children.
But when it comes to your own children they may be delighted and excited by your ceremony and want to feel part of it. You can give them different roles, depending on their ages: petal scattering, handing out words of songs, giving a reading and being your attendants. You might also like to involve them in one of the unity elements which are especially good for families.
When your children are very young they may be confused and a bit unsettled by their parents being apart from them and, so long as you are happy to do this, I will of course continue your ceremony while you are holding them.
When your ceremony also creates a step family it can be especially important to make each child feel included and to affirm their place in this family. Where applicable, words can be included which acknowledge the benefits of belonging to more than one family unit. You may each wish to make a promise to your stepchild/ren as well as include them in a family friendly unity element.
Alternatively, some couples choose to make their union a family ceremony, where the words are based on them joining as a family with their vows to each other including both their appreciation of the other as a parent and promises to the whole family.
We can work together to give your ceremony with children the emphasis just the way it works for you.
Naming ceremonies: are sometimes thought of as a “secular christening”.
These ceremonies welcome your babies or children into your family and into your community.
Close adult friends, or family, can be invited to take a special interest in your child (they are sometimes called Odd parents, Guide parents, Mentors, Support parents... or other choices) and at the ceremony they usually make a promise to the child. You will also make declarations of your lifelong commitment to this person and celebrate their unique presence in your world.
Ceremonies can include more than one child of the family and each one has nominated adults.
These ceremonies are not only for babies; children of any age can celebrate their place in their family, their community, and the world.
Adoption ceremonies: are similar to naming ceremonies, welcoming a child into their new family and community and they celebrate the end of the adoption process and the start of your new lives together.
Where children come from a culture different to your own, you may choose to include some of their family of origin's cultural traditions.
As in all Free Range ceremonies, your vision and your wishes about your ceremony will guide the process.
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
from The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran