'A child of one's wife or husband by a former marriage; one that fails to receive proper care or attention." That's a dictionary definition of stepchild.
"Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us?" (Mal. 2:10) That's from the Holy Bible.
God, who is absolutely good and all-loving - our perfect Parent - could never fail to faithfully tend and wisely care for every one of His/Her children. He/She has no stepchildren!
When my husband and I married, we each had two children from previous marriages. His youngest, a teenager, was enjoying the freedom of having the house pretty much to himself, and wasn't exactly thrilled to have a new parent - especially one who'd brought along a couple of very lively kids.
Besides becoming a new stepmother, I'd recently become a new student of Christian Science. And I found out rather quickly how much and how often I'd need to turn to God for guidance in dealing with this patchwork-quilt family.
I did not have lots of spare time to sit and pray about my stepson. But learning about God's laws was giving me a growing understanding that each child was actually the precious child of God. And every day I used the few minutes when I made his bed to pray about - understand - his relationship to God.
"In Science man is the offspring of Spirit. The beautiful, good, and pure constitute his ancestry. His origin is not, like that of mortals, in brute instinct, nor does he pass through material conditions prior to reaching intelligence. Spirit is his primitive and ultimate source of being; God is his Father, and Life is the law of his being" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Pg. 63).
As I straightened the sheets and fluffed the pillows, I affirmed that this young man was made in God's likeness; that therefore his real nature was spiritual and entirely good (not hostile!); that he was actually the perfect child of God (not the miserable mortal he sure seemed to be).
These facts, and others I found in the Bible and in Science and Health, were at the heart of late night praying, too. When he didn't show up until the wee hours, I affirmed - prayed - what I knew to be spiritually true of him. That his ever-present Father-Mother was persistently cherishing, protecting, correcting him, in ways I hadn't yet perceived.
At one point, after finding out he was doing drugs, his dad and I agreed that he should go to Sunday School. He took the news in stony silence. That night I paced the floor for several hours, feeling certain that Sunday School was a good idea - yet feeling a nudging that this simply was not the right time. Next day, I told him he didn't have to go. He was much relieved! And me? I prayed on - a moment here, a moment there.
One night, driving home drunk after partying with some friends, he lost control of his car, drove into a ditch, and came to rest next to a large tree, which he did not hit. Although his car was beyond repair (and he lost his license), he walked away unhurt.
I wrestled with the desire to quit praying and just give the kid a good lecture. But the "still small voice" (as the Bible calls that inner guide that speaks only truth and good to us) again urged me to see things differently. As with the prodigal son in Jesus' parable (who "came to himself" only after he'd hit rock bottom), this was not to be a dismal dead end, but a life-transforming turning point for this dear son.
And we saw proof as we prayed on. His life began to turn around. Although he'd always been a slow student with poor grades, he was honored at his high-school graduation for having improved the most of anyone in his class during his senior year. After a year of full-time work and saving, he put himself through college. Every year he was on the dean's list.
Later, he discovered for himself, through his own study of Christian Science, his special relationship to God. He's now happily married with a child of his own - and is an active church member who teaches Sunday School.
Step by step, prayer by prayer, you, too, can prove that anyone is the loved child of God. "And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children" (Isa. 54:13).