I like your site, but I’m hoping you can help me or possibly re-direct me. Most of your articles are, understandably, focused on blended families or situations where the bio-father is around. But I’m considering marrying a woman with 2 children — ages 4 and 6 — whose father died of a terminal illness. I want to hear from others who have been in similar situations (if possible) or learn more about what to expect from such a situation. Can you pls. advise? Thanks in advance. – Brian
Congratulations on your potential marriage –and on being the kind of guy who does his homework. An informed decision is a wise decision. I don’t know of any sites that offer guidance specific to your situation, however most of the challenges you’ll deal with are covered here. The one difference is you won’t have to struggle with issues related to the bio-dad.
Primary Tension Areas You to Expect
- Disagreements over how to raise the kids
- Defining your parent role
- Being overwhelmed by becoming an instant parent
There are other (minor) tension areas as well. You can read but theme in our Stepdad Poll results. In your case you may only have to struggle with one or two of the primary complaints. Because the father is deceased you’re in a position to adopt. Most Stepdads don’t get this option. Adoption is a wonderful thing because it allows you to officially take the role of father. For some unknown reason our culture regards adoptive fathers in a more-positive way than they regard Stepdads. The result is the level of scrutiny you receive is lower.
Adopting shows your spouse and kids you’re making a full commitment to them. It will also have a great effect on the way you see yourself. You’re less likely to question your role in the family –as so many Stepdads do. From a strategic position, it also gives you legal rights Stepdads don’t enjoy.
Adoptions can cost thousands of dollars. But there are ways of doing it for less without the help of an attorney. The company myadoptionforms.com can provide all you need to complete the adoption for a fraction of what it would cost to use a lawyer.
Once you adopt you’ll have the same rights enjoyed by a biological parent. This may sound like a minor issue -but it’s not. Stepdads have no legal rights related to the kids. You can spend most of a child’s live raising it and still be denied custody if you divorce. I’ve had many fathers reach out; brokenhearted they aren’t able to see their kids anymore. These men have no power to change that fact.
This leaves just a couple things to focus on: Communication about how you’ll raise the kids & being overwhelmed by becoming an instant parent. Be prepared for fast change. Marrying a single mom and joining a family already in progress can feel like jumping on a moving train in a land where you don’t speak the language. The family will have an existing momentum and you have to adapt to the standards and customs already in place. Get your footing before you try to make changes –and you will want to make changes. It’s normal. Communication is the key. Talk with your new wife and come to some agreements before you get married. Talk about everything you can think of related to raising the kids. Find out how she handles them now and talk about differences in your parenting philosophy. The work you do now will prevent issues later.
The kids’ ages will also work to your advantage. Younger kids bond more quickly than older kids. Be sure to spend as much time together as a family as you can the first two-three years. Making memories together will help you all bond more quickly as a family unit. Check out the free videos in our Recipes for Family Bonding series for ideas.
A little preparation will help you do a great job and be successful in your new role. Go get ‘em, Dad!