Sometimes (more often than not, these days), getting married does not necessarily mean starting a new family. It could mean marrying into an already existing one. You are not only taking on the role of husband and son and law anymore, you might also be taking on the role of stepdad. Obviously this is a lot trickier than the other two.
Often, the kids father will still be involved in their lives. You do not want to step on any toes. Do not insist that they call you dad. If they do, great, but let them get there first on their terms, not yours. Especially for younger ones, this can be a really confusing time. Just do your best to be a good role model. This includes doing your best to have a civil relationship with their biological father. We would all hope that we can all be adults in these situations and keep our cool, but it can be harder than it seems. Do your best to keep a cool head and be kind to their biological father, even if he isn’t so kind to you.
Include them in your proposal if you haven’t proposed yet. At the very least, get their “permission”. You do need kid approval, because if it really came down to it, the woman you want to marry would likely choose her kids over you, and that is one of the many reasons you love her. Talk to the kids, and let them know you are not trying to replace their father, but you love their mother very much, and want to be able to spend more time with her, and the kids all together. Ask if they are okay with this. Do this with both younger and older children.
As we all know, the older the child is, the more resistance they can put up with a new relationship with their parents. Do your best to win them over – within reason. You are still a parental figure to them. Try to reach them on their level, get interested in things they are interested in, and show them support when they need it. Again, include them in a proposal as well. You can often give older children bigger roles because they “get it” a little more.
The bottom line is, you are not marrying just the woman you love, but the kids she loves too. And you need to love them just as much as she does and care about them even more. This is a new role you are taking on. It definitely won’t easy, but it will most certainly be worth it. If you haven’t seen this photo before, it is of a father who stops his daughter’s wedding processional to invite her stepdad up to give her away together. It is one of the most touching photos we have ever seen. Enjoy! (photo: redbookmag.com)