We asked the readers of our bi-monthly E-Magazine if they thought stepparents should be acknowledged at church on special days like Mother's Day and Father's Day. I have long advocated for churches to do this very thing. Pastors and ministry leaders often don't realize how awkward these days can be for stepfamily members, nor do they realize how much encouragement it provides stepparents to be acknowledged publicly from the pulpit. It also validates the stepfamily's experience in front of friends, grandparents, and children.
Here's a sampling of the over 50 responses we received to our question:
1. “Of course! This is the question I always ask: Was not Joseph, Jesus’ step-father, acknowledged in the bible. Did he not care for Jesus the way a father does? Did he not love Jesus? Joseph loved his step-son, Jesus under the circumstance of knowing that he was not His real father.” R.G.
2. “Absolutely...for a number of reasons. First, it is a positive reinforcement for the children to see that others outside the home support their extended family as well. It also reinforces to both biological parents that the stepparent does play a significant role and deserves to be acknowledged and praised. This helps to grow the support we all need to secure families being successful.” Kristy, Florida
3. “yeah, I think I little acknowledgement by the pastor would be nice, in some cases it might be the only encouragement we ever receive.” Sarah E.
4. “Our Pastor also just says, “mothers” which by the way he says it sounds like he means by birth. He has the mothers come forward, and then he prays a blessing on them. This has ALWAYS been awkward for me. I KNOW what an important role I have, and what it means to me (more than anything especially since I don’t have my own children), however, I also know I am not their birth mom. So many people have made sure I DO go up front each year, telling me I AM a mom. This year was still a bit awkward, but I told myself that I KNOW in my heart I am a mom, so with that, I was going to be proud...” Tami J., Minnesota
5. “Absolutely they should be included. God put those adults in the lives of those children to be a parental figure. To exclude them is just wrong; it's almost like a slap on the hand. Not acknowledging them is ignoring the part they play in those children's lives and not recognizing God's ways for that family.” Danielle K.
6. “Good grief...You gotta be kidding me!?! ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY THEY SHOULD NOT BE EXCLUDED FROM CELEBRATING MOTHER'S & FATHER'S DAYS!!” Brenda F.
7. “I AM those kids Mom............... when they are with us and in our home. I take them to Dr's appointments, ball practice, games, the movies with their friends, plan the birthday parties, buy for them when it is their special day and holidays............... I put Band-Aid on the boo boos and make sure the pool is ready every year when they come to see us. I also support and encourage the child support and medical that we send every month................ not to mention 3 meals a day I prepare and clean up after, all the laundry and beds cleaned and remade every week.................. and then there are the times I am consulted (by the children) for this that and the other!!!!!!! I have nursed fever and sickness, been there when teeth were lost, when Ds went to A's and cheered on all their successes!
You’re darn tootin I am Mom........... and I should be acknowledged for it! After 8 and half years of dedicating my life to this man and his children I deserve at least that!” Vallerie A.
8. “This is another reminder how the leaders in our churches fall short of recognizing their own demographics within their congregations. Before I read your book, I felt like I was a fish out of water during sermons that was directed to "bio" families, but now I feel like I am just one amongst a lot of people that have to sit and just listen during those sermons.” JoAnn R.
9. “A mom is a mom if they take care of a child. I have had attachments to my kids despite the fact that they are not of my body. What about James 1:27 which says: "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress....." I personally feel I am honoring this command by taking care of children in the capacity that I do.” Amy N, Kentucky
10. “I am not a step mother, or foster mother or adopted mother. But any woman who is willing to take care of another's child, and cope with everything that means, is a mother in heart and should be blessed as such. They show more love, compassion and courage than many mothers who have given birth.
No, I am not adopted, and I am a mother of my own children. I know what it takes to raise children. These women are extra special.” Sheila C.
11. “HAPPY MOTHER"S DAY to all of you out there who have chosen to care for kiddos to whom you did not give birth!” Amy S.
How to Acknowledge Stepparents in Your Assembly?
Here's an example of how you can encourage stepparents. On Mother's Day you might say, "Of course, this is Mother's Day. And because we value moms here at Your Church Name Here, we'd like to ask all the moms, stepmoms, adoptive moms, grandmothers, foster moms, and any woman influencing the life of a child to stand. [[ Applause ]] Thank you for all you do and how you love."