Recently I was asked my thoughts on things single women
with children looking to marry or remarry should consider. I am personally
familiar with this topic as I was once a single mom who formed a successful
family unit.  I wouldn’t say I am an
expert, but looking back on our experiences and seeing the couples and families
that are struggling I think I have something beneficial to offer.
Statistics show that 40% of married couples with children
in the US are step-couples. This means at least one person brings a child from
a previous relationship into their new marriage. Americans marry, divorce, and
cohabitate more than any Western society and this means that by age 15, 29% of
US children experience two or more mother partnerships (either marriage or
cohabitation).[i]
When a single mom is in a relationship that appears to be
headed towards marriage, I strongly recommend pre-engagement counseling to
allow the couple to receive objective input and to help them determine if marriage
is a good idea for them. There are so many additional things to consider when a
single mom intends to marry, and it is wise to discuss them before any
engagement takes place.
Once engaged, premarital counseling is vital to help the
couple begin their lives as a couple on a solid foundation.  It should also include how the couple will define
their family, and the roles each person will play in it.  It is important to discuss if the children
will be known as his stepchildren, his wife’s children, or the children from her
other relationship/prior life.  Does her
future husband consider them his children by choice- calling them “my kids” “my
boys,” “my girls,” or “our kids?” What will the kids call their mom’s new
husband? Will they call him by his first name, or a term of endearment such as Daddy
John, Poppa, or Dad? The terminology will be critical because it sets up how
the family is viewed from within and outside.
Something else to be discussed in pre-marital counseling
is the adjustment the woman must make in parenting. Having a new parent/husband
involved will require her to surrender much of the emotional control she has
had over the children. She is used to parenting alone and making decisions for
child independent of anyone’s wisdom or counsel. Because she has been the only
authority, allowing her new husband to provide parenting input may be sticky! She
may undermine his authority with the kids and have a prideful “I know what’s
best” attitude, especially if he has never parented children before. She may be
fearful of the children not accepting him as a parent, so she prevents him from
disciplining or she is so relieved at having a partner that she passes too much
responsibility to her new husband too fast.
As a co-parent, she will have to be open to new ways of
doing things, and be agreeable to different ideas and suggestions. She will
have to support her husband’s style of discipline and his decisions as husband
and father. She will have to encourage and require the kids to respect her
husband as an authority in their lives and be willing to present a united front
even when she thinks her way is the right way.  
She must accept that if they are “our kids” then “we”
have co-responsibility for them.  Both
mom and step-father have a responsibility to teach, rebuke, correct, and train
the children in righteousness. They will need to bond and show solidarity to
the children.
There is much more I could discuss and many more issues to
be examined. I will be writing more about these issues in Wednesday and Friday’s
posts.

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