Thursday, February 26, 2015

"Marrying" your stepchildren...

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This was on my Facebook feed today...

In January 2014, NASCAR driver Brian Scott married Whitney Kay, mother of an adorable little girl named Brielle.  During their wedding ceremony, Scott made "vows" to Brielle, promising to commit to her.  I won't rehash exactly what he said because you can watch the video for that.  I do think it's kind of sweet that he acknowledged the little girl in their wedding, even though if you've read this blog, you may already know how I feel about things like "daddy/daughter dates" and stepdads giving their stepdaughters expensive jewelry.  At the same time, I have to wonder where little Brielle's father is and if he's alright with another man pledging to be surrogate daddy to his daughter.  

Don't get me wrong; I do admire stepfathers who are loving, supportive, and ready to step up to the plate and pitch in as the term "step" implies... but I also have respect for bio fathers, who too often are pushed out of their children's lives through no choice of their own (even as I acknowledge that there are plenty of bio dads out there who willingly walk away from their kids).  

And then I think about what would happen if the situation were reversed and Whitney Kay Scott was the childless one marrying a man with kids.  What would happen if she made "vows" to her stepchildren, provided that they would even be allowed to attend the wedding ceremony?  Wouldn't those kinds of vows offend their biological mother?  Would the public be nearly as supportive of such a gesture if it came from a stepmom?

I know that for many people, dads are pretty disposable.  A lot of people don't even know their fathers because they took off... or maybe they were tossed out of their lives like my husband was tossed out of his kids' lives.  For the record, Bill took care of his ex stepson as if he was the boy's father.  When I first met him, he referred to his former stepson his son and the lad even used Bill's surname, which he promptly ditched once he couldn't use Bill for money anymore.  

It wasn't until we knew each other better that Bill accurately explained their legal relationship to me.  I know that if his kids had even been allowed to attend our wedding-- which they certainly were not-- their mother would have had a total conniption if I had dared to make such gushy commitments to them, especially in public.  Moreover, had we been a prominent couple whose wedding was featured on The Today Show, I doubt people would be oohing and ahhhing over me making "wedding vows" to some other woman's children.  Instead, they'd be clamoring about how I should show more respect to their mother, no matter what a hostile and toxic shrew she is.

I didn't comment on this "news item" because the comments were so overwhelmingly in favor of the "happy couple" and I didn't want to invite drama; though I did notice one stepmother was brave enough to say this:  

Nope. Marriage is between the man and woman. Kids do not belong in the marriage dynamic. They are kids and their parents are responsible for them not TO them.   I'm an 17-year stepmother. Have 2 great step kids but I didn't marry them. I married their father. I helped their parents raise them.

She got a lot of nasty sniping comments for her trouble.  Another guy asked what the story with the bio dad was and a bunch of people told him it was "none of his business".  Okay... well, if it's no one's business, why is it news?  Are we only allowed to make supportive comments about this?        

Anyway, I do hope that if Brielle's biological dad is in the picture, he wasn't too hurt by this very public display.  And if he's not in the picture, I truly hope Brian Scott lives up to all the promises he's made to that little girl.  I hope he and Whitney have a long and happy marriage and he doesn't walk out of their lives... or get kicked out like my husband was.  I also hope Brielle's dad wasn't kicked out of his daughter's life.  

Unfortunately, marriage statistics are not on this couple's side, but maybe they will be an exception.  Hell... maybe I'm making assumptions.  I don't even know if Whitney was married to her daughter's father or if she had her the old fashioned way or visited a sperm donor.   Nowadays, you can't assume women who have kids also have an ex husband or boyfriend out there.  ETA:  I see Whitney was once married to another NASCAR driver, Sean Caisse, and apparently he is the father of little Brielle.  

In any case, let the record show that, no... I don't like the idea of "marrying" stepchildren.  I don't think it's the stepparent's role unless there truly is no bio parent in the picture and the stepparent intends to formally adopt the child.  I don't think it's appropriate for stepparents to lay claim to their stepchildren unless they are actually without biological parents.  But I guess I'm old fashioned that way.


  1. I think the idea of somehow including children in a ceremony invloving their parent's wedding to someone else is nice in it's own way, but making vows? What , then are the step-parent's obligations to those children if the marriage goes south? face it: marriage is no better than 50.50 under the best of circumstances, and in second marriages with children, it would seemed that the odds would be reduced even lower. (You lucked out when you found Bill, as did he when he found you, but in part because he knew when to say when in terms of a parenting situation that wasn't going to work no matter what he did or said.) But what becomes of those vowws when the marriage bdsintegrates? where is the legal system in all this? what if the children's parent marries again? do the children then make new vows with that person? There has to be a better way of involving children in a wedding than by having them take actual vows.

    1. Frankly, I think things have worked out so well between us because we haven't had to deal with his ex or his kids. That isn't to say that people can't successfully blend families after death or divorce, but I know that for many it's very difficult. It requires mutual respect and maturity among everyone involved. While I think that can certainly happen, I don't think it's the norm.

  2. I do not appreciate all the negative views and expectations here. I am a dad, ten years into his second marriage. My first marriage lasted 18 years, and at the time of the divorce, our daughter (who has down syndrome) was 11 years old. After that, I was single for three years and then remarried. I am now 10 years into my second marriage. At my second wedding, my daughter was a flower girl, and my current wife spoke to her during the ceremony, making a commitment to her. She told her she loved her - it was simple, short and very meaningful. It was extremely special to everyone, most importantly my daughter. My ex-wife was fine with it. Though there were rough patches back then, everyone worked hard for the benefit of the child. Today, she still talks about being in the wedding and loves looking at the pictures. My ex-wife and current wife are always there at events involving my daughter, and my ex-wife even attends events that involve my current son (who was adopted from Korea 8 years ago). So my ex-wife is important in his life as well. Everyone gets along. It's possible, and it's even desirable. All the adults need to do is forgive one another, be respectful, and focus on what's best for the child. Not everyone is hateful and unforgiving. If you keep talking about how bad things usually are between ex's, then you perpetuate the stereotype. WHY? Instead, give examples of how things can work out. Give people something to work toward instead of slamming then down before anything bad even happens. In this blog, you are already talking about this new marriage disintegrating. It's depressing to read, and it's nothing at all like my life.

    1. I'm sorry you don't appreciate my opinions. They are just that-- my opinions.

      I'm delighted that your marriages have worked out so well for you and your ex and current wives are so cooperative. They must be very mature people. You and your kids are very fortunate. Not everyone has that kind of luck.

      As I mentioned in my post, a lot of people felt this display was very moving and sweet. I merely present another viewpoint, which I feel entitled to do on my personal blog. I can't please everyone, though. I'm sorry you are disappointed by this post. You join a long list of people who don't like the things I write.

    2. J.,G., it's nice that things worked out for you in divorce even when they didn't in your initial marriage, but that has nothing to do with Knotty's personal experience. Saying "I love you" to a child in a wedding is one thing. Making vows of any sort with a child would be quite another.

      Everyone who gets married, or at least I hope they do, does so with the best of intentions, yet the success rate isn't all that high. I don't see what is so terribly wrong with acknowledging that. Furthermore, it's OK to read things with which a person does not necessarily agree, to consider what was written, and to make one's own conclusions. If one is incapable of considering that another writer's experience might legitimately have been different than his o her own and respond less vociferously, perhaps one would do well to restrict one's readings to those written by like-minded individuals to himself or herself.

      For the record, I claim to know little-to-nothing about the institution of marriage. I'm twenty yeas old and in school, and don't plan to even consider marriage for at least a few years. For the record, I'm a product of the union of a man and a woman who have been married only to each other and whose marriage has lasted for nearly twenty-five years. All I know of marriage is what I've seen. But just because my parents have been married for nearly twenty-five years doesn't make anyone else who didn't manage his or her life in such a way either wrong or a bad person. There's room for a difference of opinion in this regard.

  3. P.S. I apologize for the typose in the above post. i'm a poor typist.

    P.P.S. Validly obtained statistics don't lie. Odds may be beaten, but accurate statistics themselves do not lie.

  4. This article is crap. You have a man that falls in love with a woman that has a toddler, steps up to the plate and commits to them BOTH and without even knowing, or researching, the story you make assumptions. You are so worried about how the vows made Brielle's bio "father" feel..? Why don't you ask him?

    1. You know what? If my blog is "crap" and a "waste of your time", I suggest you read something else. Your pissy rant doesn't change my mind; it just makes me think you're a jerk.

      I shouldn't waste my time responding to you, but just so you know, I have seen Brielle's bio dad's photo and was aware that he has had some problems with the law recently. If you had done YOUR research before commenting, you might have noticed a more recent post in which I included the link you provided above. Sean Caisse's issues with the law shouldn't necessarily keep him from caring about and loving his daughter.

      I don't think my comments about this were that offensive, but nevertheless, I think you're the one making assumptions about me. Having married a guy who "stepped up to the plate" for his ex stepson, I know all too well how these situations can turn out. It would be nice if Brian and Whitney stayed married forever. I truly hope they do. Statistics are not on their side, though.

      As for my asking Sean Caisse how he feels about another man publicly claiming his daughter at a wedding, I would if I could. Someone really should have.

  5. Read a little deeper into his "run in" with the law. I wouldn't want my daughter around that, dude is insane. You have an extremely fair general argument, but in this case Brielle no longer has a father. This whole story is why those vows are so emotional

    1. Regardless of Sean Caisse's legal issues, I still think "marrying your stepchildren" is a bad idea. If Brian and Whitney eventually break up, that public display of vows Brian made to Brielle may end up being hurtful. I know most couples in love don't think about the later potential for divorce, but it's really a significant risk.

      A marriage is not about the wedding. Neither is parenthood. That's why I think Brian's promises to Brielle should have not have been given publicly at the wedding, but every day as he's taking care of her. Those are the promises that Brielle will remember and the ones that will actually matter to her. The vows Brian made at the wedding were more for the attendees than the small child, who was reportedly oblivious.

      That being said, I wish them all the best and hope Brian is able to be a great father to Brielle. And I hope Sean Caisse is somehow able to redeem himself some day.


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