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

Bride And Groom With Bridesmaid And Page Boy At WeddingWhen 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!


This 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

38 responses to “VOWS TO YOUR NEW CHILDREN – It’s Never Too Late

  1. (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.

  2. (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!!!!!!!

  3. (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?

    1. (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.

  4. (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!

  5. (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!

    1. (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.

  6. (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!”

  7. (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!

  8. (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.

  9. 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.

  10. I wed in two weeks, and these words touched my heart. I modified the words slightly to fit our situation, and can’t wait for our children to be part of our special day. Thank you so much for making our day a bit more meaningful.

  11. This site has been very helpful and want to say thanks to all for sharing. I’m in the process of writing my vows, and want to share for others who may be in a similar situation. I have been a single mom most of my kiddos life. They were 1, 2 & 6 when I divorced and today are 19-20-24. He has 3 kiddos, 13-15-23. This has been an emotional year as we took time for all to meet and spend time together.

    With that said… this is the rough draft to my own kiddos. We are very close and this will be a huge transition. I’m also open to suggestions, being I struggle putting my thoughts to elegant words:

    Kiddos (listed by name), it has been just us for most your lives. You have heard me share, my biggest regret was not able to show you a strong, committed, loving marriage to learn from, yet together we have all grown through so many good and difficult times. As you know, I’ve also been concerned that you may feel I’m leaving you, and want you to know, that my promise to each of you, is that I (we) are always here! No matter where I (we) live it is ALWAYS home to you and this will never change!

    I will have other vows to his kiddos. Hope this helps another, since I didn’t see this situation, thought I would take the time to share.

  12. Before someone snipes – I’m a stepdaughter, a stepparent, and married to a UU minister. That said – I’m not a fan of family vows. PLEASE be certain the kids are on board with this before you do it. Remember, the kids are “included” in the wedding just by being present. Anything more is a frill.

    I attended a wedding where this was sprung on the kids. The minister performed the ceremony, then called them up. They stood there looking bewildered while the adults hissed, “Say I do, say I do” at them.

    This can be very uncomfortable if their other parent is still living, some kids don’t like being up in front of so many people, and it’s cringe-worthy if they don’t know the new parent well or don’t get along.

    Family vows can be beautiful, or induce squirming. Please talk to the kids beforehand. How you treat them AFTER the marriage is what’s important.

    1. I totally agree. This should be a family decision, not sprung on children who really don’t want to do this. Thanks for the input.

  13. I was searching for wedding ceremony vows that would include children and WOW this is beyond beautiful. My daughter is 9 years old and have known my husband-to-be for 4 years. They have become friends and my heart swells when I see them happy. I could not imagine our wedding day without including my daughter in the vows. This example is absolutely beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. God bless you!