Your Wedding, Your Blended Family

As the bride and groom, it is your "Big Day" yet it is never yours alone. Once you take your wedding vows, a new constellation of family relationships is established. And, if you or your intended have children, you are creating a whole new family structure. There are ways to facilitate these sometimes difficult transitions. Children's vows – promises elicited from parents and children in support of their new relationships – create ceremonial moments where you and your children have the opportunity to stand in the magic of ritual, embrace your family's transformation and, if you choose, the children may receive a memento of your enduring love.

Recently, I had the opportunity to officiate a wedding ceremony that included the groom's fourteen-year-old daughter. At the rehearsal, the teenager confessed that she was feeling awkward about joining the processional with the couple and decided that she would not read the poem her father had picked out for her. Even though the daughter approved of the relationship and had real affection for the bride, it was clear that the wedding ceremony would be a difficult transition for her. We wondered whether the girl would like to participate in the ceremony at all. I asked the youngster whether she wanted to exchange special promises with her stepmother to be. Here, she was emphatic. She definitely felt comfortable exchanging children's vows with the bride. In spite of her difficulties with being a part of the ceremony, she knew that she could well benefit from using this sanctioned, formal occasion to help transform this relationship.
Her father, recognizing the difficulty that his daughter was experiencing, surprised the youngster during the ceremony by presenting her with a special piece of jewelry. This child tearfully received a beautiful pendant that represented her new blended family. Like the wedding rings that the bride and groom exchanged, the daughter's necklace will be a tangible reminder of her place of honor and inclusion in her new family.

As adults we know that rituals, such as wedding ceremonies, help us to accept and adjust emotionally to great changes in our lives. Children's vows, reinforced with a necklace or whatever symbol suits your family, provide youngsters with an unparalleled opportunity to reflect upon and commemorate their bond to their parents and their parent's partner. Ideally, by preparing and reciting vows together and presenting and receiving keepsakes, the parents and children are able to share and clarify their vision of the best possible future for their blended families. The wedding ceremony marks the passing of one era and the beginning of a new one. The nourishing significance of children's vows reinforced with a family memento, empower children and their newly-wed parents to begin the new era focusing on creating the best family relationships possible. This is a gift for the entire family. 

Example of children's vows: 

Celebrant: I ask you, Spouse/Stepparent, will you give your all to assist Child in her development into a compassionate, responsible adult? Will you respect her relationship with her parents as you appreciate your important place in her life? Will you treat her with sincere interest, fairness and respect? 
Spouse/Stepparent: I will. 
Celebrant: Child, now that your family will include Step-parent/Bonus Parent, will you give your all to be fair and respectful to her and do your very best to create the best possible parent/child relationship? 
Child: I will.