Marriage Missions International

VOWS TO YOUR NEW CHILDREN – It’s Never Too Late

When two people marry they exchange vows with each other, which are promises to each other that they will love, honor, help and uphold each other — through ALL circumstances that life may bring.

Vows are important because they bring to light the seriousness of the marriage covenant that the two people are making with each other. They also express the depth of the love relationship that exists between the couple.

Why Make Vows To the Children?

Too often, spouses underestimate how much of a part the “new” (“step”) children will play in the new marriage, regardless of their age. A child or children who do not feel a part of the new marriage and family, or who are resistant to the new spouse or family, can create great turmoil in the weeks, months and years ahead.

In a child’s defense, we need to realize that:

• The children were probably not asked (and likely did not choose) to be in this new relationship or family.

• Our spouse’s children are NOT extra baggage, along for the ride, or someone else’s problem. We need to see our spouse’s children as though they were a vital part of our spouse, because they are. We cannot separate our spouse from their children.

• The children involved may still be hurting from a previous divorce, loss of a parent through death, missing their other natural parent, still hoping their natural parents would get back together, and/ or some other negative emotions or situations.

Here is the reality: Your spouse and their children were/are “one” before you and your spouse vowed to become “one” in marriage. Your vows with your spouse do not circumvent the relationship they have with their children. Realize the fact that when you married your spouse, you really also married their children because they were already one. When you understand this relationship dynamic and begin to treat your new children with real acceptance, your marriage and family will grow.

Many spouses have tried to separate their spouse’s children from their spouse— by making their spouse choose between them and their natural children, or by causing a child or children feel unwelcome in the home. These marriage relationships suffer severely — and many fail.

Here is a solution: Instead of making your spouse have to periodically make an unfair choice between you and their children, you choose to be in covenant with their children.

It’s time to stop being a “step”-parent. Choose to love them. Choose to make them an integral part of your life. Just as you made vows to your spouse, make vows to your spouse’s children!

Sharing vows with children will do these things for your marriage and family:

1. You will make the children feel “significant” — that they are a real part of your life and the new home, not just on the sideline. This is SO IMPORTANT to get all members of your family started off in the right mindset. The sooner you create the right atmosphere, the better.

2. The attention that you give them during the vows will let them know that they are important to you, and to your new family.

3. You will become more aware of their presence in your home, and of your responsibility toward them.

4. You will enhance the relationship between you and your spouse. When you embrace your spouse’s children in this way, you embrace your spouse more completely.

Already Married? Do it anyway!

Maybe you and your spouse chose the out-of-town island wedding. Perhaps your children were too young when you married, or maybe you just did not think of including your children to this extent in your wedding. That’s OK!

The good news is that it’s not too late to share vows with your “new” children (stepchildren), and make them feel a vital part of your life!

Should Your Children Make Vows?

That depends on the children. If the children are showing signs of resistance, we suggest not. We believe that expecting a child to make vows to an adult, parent-figure that they did not choose to be a part of their life can put pressure on the child. We need to remember that the child did not request the marriage. Let’s let children be children, and let the adults take the responsibility for building the family.

However, if the children are excited about the wedding and marriage, allowing the children to also make vows to the new parents would be acceptable.

You may want to ask the children their feelings about doing so, and not force them to do something they are uncomfortable with.

Need A Great Sample Vow?

Brian and Ashley VanDreumel, good friends of ours and members of our church, allowed us to print the following vows that they wrote and shared with each other’s children on their wedding day. (We had the privilege of officiating the VanDreumel’s wedding.) They each stooped down and looked the children straight in the eyes as they spoke these vows into their new children’s lives.

Groom: “(children’s names), I want you to know that I dearly love your mother. We have become very good friends over the weeks and months and we have learned to love each other. As you have so graciously shared this wonderful woman with me, so will I share the love I feel for her with you.

Together, we will learn much more about each other. I promise also to be fair and to be honest, to be available for you as I am for your mom, and in due time, to earn your love, respect and true friendship. I will not attempt to replace anyone, but to make a place in your hearts that is for me alone. I will be father and friend, and I will cherish my life with all of you. On this day when I marry your mom, I marry you, and I promise to love and support you as my own.”

Bride: “(children’s names), I want you to know that I dearly love your father. We have become very good friends over the weeks and months and we have learned to love each other. As you have so graciously shared this wonderful man with me, so will I share the love I feel for him with both of you. Together, we will learn much more about each other.

I promise also to be fair and to be honest, to be available for you as I am for your dad, and in due time, to earn your love, respect and true friendship. I will not attempt to replace anyone, but to make a place in your hearts that is for me alone. I will be mother and friend, and I will cherish my life with both of you. On this day when I marry your dad, I marry you, and I promise to love and support you as my own.”

The bride and groom’s children then responded to the following vows when read by the pastor:

(Children’s names), do you promise to love your mother and her new husband?

Children respond: “I do.”

Do you promise to support their marriage and your new family?

Children respond: “I do.”

Do you promise to accept the responsibility of being their children, and to encourage them, support them, and accept them just as our heavenly Father accepts us?

Children respond: “I do.”

(Children’ names), do you promise to love your father and his new wife?

Children respond: “I do.”

Do you promise to support their marriage and your new family?

Children respond: “I do.”

Do you promise to accept the responsibility of being their children, and to encourage them, support them, and accept them just as our heavenly Father accepts us?

Children respond: “I do.”

There were not many dry eyes in the wedding hall when they finished!

We hope that this helps you understand the great value that children’s vows can play in laying a foundation to build your family upon.

Start planning how you will make sharing children’s vows in your family a special event. Then watch the attitudes of all involved begin to change!

Special thanks to Brian and Ashley for letting us share their vows with the world!


The above article came from the BAF Ministry, Blending a Family Ministry, founded by authors Pastors Moe and Paige Becnel. Their web site can be found at Blendingafamily.com. This is a great ministry resource “to help all blended families become successful, peace filled, loving families.” As they say, “God has a plan for your life, and for your blended family!” They have many helpful resources (including additional articles to read) available by going to their web site. We encourage you, if you’re dealing with step-parenting situations to visit their web site. They give a lot of great insights to help you “blend” in a more peaceable way!

They have authored the books God Breathes on Blended Families and God Breathes on Blended Families Workbook.

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Comments

31 Responses to “VOWS TO YOUR NEW CHILDREN – It’s Never Too Late”
  1. Renee says:

    (UNITED STATES) These vows were beautiful and gave me a lot of good ideas. Thank you

  2. Nikila says:

    (USA)  Oh my gosh! That was the most beautiful thing I have ever read. I know there was not a dry eye in the house. I started crying just from reading it. Those vows truly touched me. I have been dating someone for over a year now and we both have children from a previous relationship. It is my utmost intention to include them in the ceremony but I was not exactly sure how to do so. This article has definitely helped me define the vision of what our inclusive ceremony should look like.

    • Lupe says:

      (UNITED STATES)  Wow! Thank you for sharing these vows with me and my future husband. This will be very special for my daughter. Thank you so much. I will also use these vows in my wedding on June 23, 2012.

      • Kathryn says:

        (USA) I so totally agree …we are including my daughter in our unity also. We are doing the sand instead of the candle and she is really excited about it since she gets to use her favorite color. Our wedding is Sept. 28, 2012.

  3. ANGEL says:

    (SOUTH AFRICA)  We will be tying the knot April 4th and this is exactly the kind of vows I wanted as I wanted to include our children in the ceremony.

  4. Sheila says:

    (USA) I will be getting married on April 4, 2009 and last week my 12 year old daughter told me to remember to get her ring for the wedding. Oh my gosh, I had completely forgotten to include her in the vow ceremony. Your sight was a relief. I will definitely be using it and part of another one for my ceremony. Thanks

  5. Courtney says:

    (USA)  My partner and I each have a child from a previous relationship AND we have a child together (3 girls total ages 17 months, 9 years & 12 years). We are getting married October 24, 2009, and I’ve wanted all along to include the girls. I love these vows! Instead of rings I plan on getting all 3 girls silver bracelets with a dangle heart and have the date engraved on it.

    • Cindy says:

      (USA) We will be using vows similair to this when we get married. I really like the idea of the braclets for the girls. I will use that when i get married. The guy that I’m with and I both have children from a previous marriage. I have girls and he has boys. So do you have any suggestions for a gift like the braclets, but for the boys?

      • Judy says:

        (NEW ZEALAND)  What about a nice necklace for the boys? My partner and I both have 2 children each and will be including them in our ceremony and vows. My daughter is chief bridesmaid and my son is walking me down the isle. My 2 stepboys (twins) are my partners bestmen ;) We are giving necklaces for the boys and my daughter will be getting a bracelet.

  6. Melanie says:

    (USA) Fabulous! This made me so emotional just reading. My fiance and I both have custody of our children and are getting married this fall. We want to include our children in the ceremony and these vows are a great place to start. We will incorporate this with the family medallions we will be giving the children. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Thalia says:

    (USA) What if one of your children is just REALLY negative? At 11, she still has GIANT temper tantrums that wreak havoc. I’m sure some of you will say this is all my fault, and those buttons on me are easily pushed, but truth be told we have had as peaceful and gentle a divorce as possible (most people are amazed).

    It just breaks my heart, because my new guy is really wonderful, and we have a great relationship with my former spouse/co-parent who lives just a few blocks away. Any suggestions? I don’t want or need to force anyone to love anyone else. I just want to love them all peacefully, and for all of us to commit to creating a nurturing “nest”. I saw a wedding with these vows and I long deeeeply for such public and sweet commitments.

  8. TR says:

    (USA)  I am going to do this for our ceremony in October 2009! I am just unsure how to go about it.

    See, my husband and I are renewing our vows on our 16th anniversary after being separated due to infidelity and all the mess that comes with that. Our son has been through it all with us, so we wanted to present him with a ring and a necklace (cross) to renewal our vow to his as his parents. I just don’t know where to start???

  9. Julie says:

    (USA) Wow! This was so beautiful! I knew I had wanted to include my daughter …but I didn’t know how! This is exactly how we will do this in our ceremony! Thank you for sharing it with us!

  10. Marthaly says:

    (USA)  My fiance and I are starting to plan our 2010 wedding. Our bridal party is composed of our four children (new era Brady Bunch) and have decided that we would like to have them be part of the ceremony as well. After reading (and crying) the blended family wedding vows, I found the perfect wording! Thanks a million!

  11. Tara says:

    (USA)  This was beautiful! My fiance and I are getting married in Oct and we both have a child from previous relationships. They are 4 and 6 though so we are having trouble finding wording that they will understand. We are going to do Unity Sand and I have explained to them what it means and why we are doing it. They are both really excited to be a part of the ceremony. The 4 year old was the ring bearer at his moms second marriage but he says he just sat in the grass and watched. We want our kids to feel included and we think the sand is fun for the kids.

  12. Brent says:

    (USA)  Hi, just came across this article! I’m actually casting for an upcoming television series for a major television network surrounding a blended family who are either engaged or married, bringing in children from both sides! If you or anyone you know might fit the bill please drop me a line! Also please feel free to check our our website at http://www.sirensmedia.com Thanks! Brent sirenscasting@gmail.com
    [Marriage Missions Editors Note: Please understand that by posting this comment we are not endorsing Sirens Media. The concept for this "reality show" is interesting, but if you respond, do so prayerfully and carefully.]

  13. Kelly says:

    (USA)  Thanks a bunch for the wonderful ideas… My Fiance and I are getting married on Valentine’s Day 2010, and I will have two stepchildren (boys 15 & 16). It has been a hard transition for them and I wanted something to make them feel like they were part of everything… This is perfect for when I give them a Family Medallion to kind of seal the deal… FYI you can find those at FamilyMedallion.com. Thanks so Much!, Kelly

  14. MDC says:

    (USA)  Absolutely beautiful ideas. I have been in a committed relationship with my gal for the past two years. Her husband took his life 31 months ago. She has 2 daughters, 11 and 6 and I have a daughter 12. My daughter and her youngest are great with the relationship. Her oldest still has periodic difficulty with me in the relationship. I want to incorporate all of the girls into our blended family and put each of them at ease. Any thoughts?

  15. Gil says:

    (USA)  Hi folks- It is beautiful that the children are involved in this marriage and their feelings respected. It is also great that both parent and step-parent publicly vow to be open hearted and loving of the children. It is NOT appropriate however, to force children to take vows stating that they will love someone that their parents bring into the family. The wording I and my Fiance are using is more along the lines of “Suzy and Sally, will you accept Jane with an open mind and an open heart? …” or “Do you give your blessing to this marriage?”, etc. Forcing a child to say “I will love this new step parent” is more likely to create resentment in the child and to ultimately confuse them on the true meaning of love.

    • Mary from United States says:

      I agree and can hardly even believe anyone would think it appropriate to ask children to make vows of this sort. I’m literally in shock. I also don’t agree, though, that children should be asked to bless a marriage. I believe it undermines the covenant between the couple, an intimate covenant that is only between the couple and God.

      Do we ask children to take other such roles elsewhere in life? Perhaps we should ask them to bless our professional choices Perhaps ask if they will give their blessing to going to the doctor before we take them for a vaccination? Ask them first before signing them up for the next school year? Ask them if they will give permission before a move, a home purchase, Etc…

      It may sound generous and loving, but you are actually placing an adult burden on them, and asking them to enter the marital zone, in effect, which is no place for children, in my opinion.

  16. Leia says:

    (AUSTRALIA)  Hi, any ideas on some vows that are short to include my partner’s two children into our vows? And what would be a nice little present for a boy and a girl on the day? How could I present this to them as I will be their stepmother? Thanks.

  17. HEATHER says:

    (USA)  MY FIANCE AND I ARE PLANNING A WEDDING FOR 2011 AND I HAVE TWO OLDER STEP CHILDREN THAT I WANTED TO PERFORM VOWS TO. THIS WAS AMAZING!!!! I KNOW THAT WITH YOUR HELP I WILL BE ABLE TO COME UP WITH MY OWN VOWS THAT WILL MEAN SO MUCH TO THEM. THANK YOU FOR SHARING!!!!!!!

  18. Kristie says:

    (USA)  My boyfriend has two kids they are 16 &14. Are they to old to be in with the vows? My son is 22 do I add him?

    • Cindy Wright says:

      (USA) Kristie, It really depends upon what you and your husband-to-be decide, with of course, consideration to your “kids.” This won’t work for everyone… but it will for others. And ages don’t really matter here. Just look at the goal. What can you do that will best help your combined family come together in a way that gives consideration to everyone’s feelings over your remarriage to each other? One or another might not be as happy about it and they may need more time and consideration. But do the best you can to make this as loving and uniting of a wedding as possible. I wish you well.

  19. Brittny says:

    (USA)  This is exactly the thing I had in mind for me and my children when I re-marry! Their dad got married yesterday and didn’t tell any of us. I was looking online for a more helpful way to explain the situation to them, and came across this! Way to go!

  20. Dana says:

    (USA)  My fiance and I are getting married this winter and I love these vows! I love the idea of giving a special cross necklace to my fiance’s daughter as well! My question is do my vows to my fiance’s daughter come before or after our exchange of vow’s to each other? What is more appropriate? Any suggestions would be welcome! Thank you!

    • Cindy Wright says:

      (USA) Dana, I believe your marriage relationship should come first. Thus, you would make all other promises after that. But make sure you realize that these aren’t “just” romantic words you say on your special day, but vows you will follow through with for the rest of your lives. Consider what you are promising. Trust me, you will be tested on them, many, many, many times. Make sure that all you do from this day forth is about the marriage — rather than the makings of a romantic day.

  21. Matilda says:

    (USA)  I’d love to see what would happen if a child said, “NO! I have been against this all along and will not accept this marriage, nor respect it. In fact, if either of them say ‘I do’ – I will walk right out if here!”

  22. Christine says:

    (CANADA) Loved the sample vows here. It is exactly what I was looking for. My fiance has 2 children and I have 3 so we will be an official family of 7 on July 21, 2012. I would love to use these vows to them.

    One thing we did do, is to take the wedding band from his first marriage and the rings from my first marriage, took them to a jeweler and had 5 rings made from the gold and the diamonds. This will be a symbol and honouring the families that created them and the joining of those families. They don’t know about it but I hope that they love it!

  23. Miss Lisa says:

    (USA) I want to make a commitment sheet and take an oath to my son who is now two, to recommit my life to him and his future on paper for him to cherish one day as he grows to be who he is.

  24. Lia Marie from United States says:

    I wish this info was around when I remarried, which was over 26 years ago. My spouse felt no obligation to my children, no obligation or need to love them. He actually told me his vows were to love and cherish me, not them. I’m still married to this man, but resent him greatly. I’m married because I made a vow all those years ago. But my children suffered greatly, and this man feels no remorse for his lack of emotion, empathy or responsibility. My children and I don’t have a good relationship because of my marriage. We never blended. My husband never felt the need. Very sad, it has been a very bittersweet union.

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