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Unique ways to help kids embrace a blended family
About 1,300 new stepfamilies form each day in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And of the 60 million American children younger than 13, half are currently living with one biological parent and that parent's partner. As a result, couples are trying to find ways to include their stepchildren in the marriage ceremony and commemorate the union of all members of the new blended family.
More and more new parents are turning to personalized gifts, to find something unique and meaningful to commemorate the special day they marry into the family and become stepmom or stepdad.
During the couple's ceremony, instead of naming the new couple husband and wife, the officiant pauses after the couple kisses and asks the children to step forward. Allowing for the surprise to take place, the newlyweds don’t prepare the children for this moment. If they knew about it ahead of time, it may have made them anxious throughout the entire ceremony.
The new stepmom or stepdad take the microphone and tell their stepchildren-to-be that it wasn't just the couple who were joined, but rather all of them. A jewelry box is presented with an engraved treasure inside, with the names of all family members inscribed.
Many families have also purchased engraved "community bricks" to honor the day they became an official family. Bricks can be purchased through churches, schools, civic organizations or even to support a special landmark that is special to the family.
The symbolism of creating a cornerstone to celebrate the day a blended family came together has a powerful impact, as does the permanence of placing the brick in a prominent part of the community. Many families make a family event out of visiting the location of their brick on their anniversary. When purchasing a brick, families should inquire about purchasing a second one to keep in addition to the one that becomes part of the community landscape.
Some stepparents use the occasion to create a time capsule of sorts with a handwritten letter. In addition to writing a letter to the child about the formation of their family, stepparents can write about what this new family means to them and their hopes for their future together. This further emphasizes the transformation from a couple to an official family.
The letters are often stored in a special box with a few photos and other mementos from the wedding day. Even if the child is quite young on the wedding day, they'll see the effort that went into making them a big part of that day - and the couple's life.
Just as a first-time wedding is cause for celebration, the coming together of two people and their children to create a blended family is an extraordinarily special event. By taking a moment to recognize and pay tribute to the children in a blended family, couples help children realize they are not losing a parent, but rather gaining another person or group of people to love and support them throughout their future.