Religion

Stepchildren deserve the same treatment as the other kids in the house

Again, allow me to say what I have stated before: If you love and marry a woman who has children from previous relationships, treat them well. Even if you don’t care about their father as long as they live in your home, treat them the same way you would your own children.

Soon after I was shown where to sit, I noticed huge portraits of a father and his son on the walls of a family’s living room. I had heard that the family had two sons, thus my confusion when I saw the pictures of only one boy. I learned that the older son was living alone in another part of town.

As my visit progressed, a topic came up that prompted the mother to talk about the family’s first born. She got up and looked around before she eventually pointed at a tiny framed picture of the older boy that was hanging in a corner where it could hardly be seen.

My heart sunk. Not a single picture of that boy with either the parents or with his brother. I immediately suspected the reason for the conspicuously missing pictures — his mother’s husband was not his biological father. Within a few hours, I had confirmed my suspicion.

On the school closing day in early April 1974, my father came home with two new shirts of the same material and design, but one was reddish purple in color while the other one was green. They were rewards for my young brother and me. We were among the top five students out of a class of 125.

“Muyanga, osa sati ila ukwenda nundu we ndunaa syokeete.” Muyanga, select the shirt you want since you were not a repeater (I had repeated 7th grade). I still dislike that incident. My father’s words hurt. The reward became meaningless to me. The color of the reddish-purple shirt my brother chose would create a longing that has never been satisfied by my conscious possession of a maroon shirt since 1985, when I could afford to purchase one for myself.

Years later it dawned on me that my dad is second-grade dropout, and that incident must be viewed with that in mind.

But a lump develops in my throat whenever I see such atrocities committed against innocent children. The Kenyan representatives of Caring Hearts and Hands of Hope (CHHH) have had to make special accommodation arrangements for our sponsored girls who are mistreated by their stepfathers. The issue of educating those girls is not even discussed. The men make it clear that is not their responsibility.

Just imagine the psychological wound a child endures when they see a sibling or stepsibling getting better treatment. No child chooses where or when to be born, or chooses their parents. But negative gestures can have a long-term negative impact.

Vincent Muli Kituku is an author and speaker for business organizations, schools and Christian groups. He is the founder of Caring Hearts and Hands of Hope and Caring Hearts High School, a vulnerable girls’ boarding school in Kenya. Contact him at (208) 376-8724 or vincent@kituku.com.

The Idaho Statesman’s weekly faith column features a rotation of writers from many different faiths and perspectives.

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