”Nästan som ett bröllop…” – en undersökning om gifta och sammanboende pars syn på deras barns dop
Sammanfattning: For the whole family, the baptism of a child is a meaningful event. In Sweden, parents are often not married when the first child is born. For these families the baptism is the first event the couple experiences together in the church. This paper examines how the understanding of baptism differs between married and unmarried couples. The thesis I am going to investigate assumes, that unmarried couples understand baptism also as a confirmation of their relationship and their life situation. The study is based on a theoretical and a practical approach. The French sociologist Arnold van Gennep shaped the term “rite of passage”. These are rites, which are carried out at various social passages, and which help to manage the so called “crisis” one enters in time of such passages. The Christian baptism has been described as such a rite of passage. In Sweden, the first studies (Berndt Gustafsson, Kjell Petersson) of parents’ understanding of baptism were published in the 1960s and 1970s. These studies concluded that baptism had lost much of its character as a rite of passage. Eva Reimers showed in the latest study on this matter of 1995, that parents understand the baptism as ceremony for the whole family and that only a few parents share the church’s understanding of baptism as an initiation rite. This paper challenges the idea that baptism no longer is perceived as a rite of passage. It is only a different type of passage, which is marked by baptising the child. In van Genneps words, parents understand baptism as a birth rite, while the church understands it as initiation rite. A survey of the parents or the guardians of 200 children, who were registered in the parish Möllevången-Sofielund in central Malmö when their children were baptised, has shown that there is no detectable difference in the experience of baptism between married and unmarried couples. The married couples felt themselves to an even greater degree considered as couple and family. From these observations, the paper tries to draw conclusions for the pastoral care in connection with baptism. An explanation of the outcome of the survey would have to explain why the parents’ marital status is not important for their understanding of baptism. One possible explanation is that marriage itself is no longer conceived as a rite marking the establishment of a family. If marriage does not change anything in the parents’ perception of their own relationship, the question has to be asked, if marriage still can be seen and described as a rite of passage.
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