Q. What responsibilities, if any, does a man have towards his stepchildren?
A. In a case where children are living with their stepfather, it will be the responsibility of the true father to look after them with respect to food and clothing. If the true father has passed away, then the mother will be the one responsible for them. However, in a case where the mother marries to another person, then this stepfather would now assume the responsibility of looking after kids, since by his marriage to the mother, he has decided to accept her with the kids. In this situation, the stepfather will now become the Ameer over his wife and a guardian over her children. Because of this situation, the stepfather will now fulfill the responsibilities which were upon the children’s mother, which included food, clothing and shelter.
It should be noted that this responsibility of the stepfather would continue until the children reach an age where they can be gainfully employed (in the case of boys) or they can be married (in the case of girls).
Boys, having reached this age should try their best to be employed and girls, having reached this age should look towards marriage. In this way, they would all be able to remove the responsibility of their guardian (the stepfather) who has shouldered it for many years.
And Allah knows best.
Mufti Waseem Khan