About Mosch, my stepfather

Last week, my stepfather, Mosch Virshup, was in a terrible bicycle accident. He is unconscious in the neurological ICU at the University of New Mexico Hospital.

Mosch came into my life when I was already a teenager – I met him through the church youth group as a high school freshman. The first time I met Mosch, I don’t think I made much of an impact on him, but he made quite an impression on me. We were at a church lock-in with youth from all over our district. One of the youth who came with Mosch had taken some over-the-counter pill to help her stay awake. She ended up very sick. Mosch stayed with her throughout the weekend, very sweetly tending to her. In addition to his sweet attendance on an ill youth, I also noticed Mosch’s absolute support for youth to make authentic decisions about themselves. I was fascinated by him.

Mosch quickly became a very important presence in my life, starting at these church gatherings, and slowly seeping into my home life. He moved in with my mother (and I) full-time the summer before my senior year of high school.

I think Mosch was surprised when I started referring to him as a stepfather. He felt he had entered my life too late to hold the role of parent, or anything like it. But he was wrong. Teenagers need parents, and there’s no particular reason to stop at two or three of them. Mosch stepped into my life at a time when I needed his approach to parenting, and being with teenagers generally. A lot of who I am, and how I think it is important to be with and teach young people, is based on my experiences with Mosch as my stepfather.

I don’t think I have ever properly thanked Mosch for his role in my upbringing and my life. I dearly hope I will still have a chance to.

About Karen Rayne

Dr. Karen Rayne has been supporting parents and families since 2007 when she received her PhD in Educational Psychology. A specialist in child wellbeing, Dr. Rayne has spent much of her career supporting parents, teachers, and other adults who care for children and teenagers.


  1. Karen – I hope Mosch is able to recover quickly from this terrible accident. Sending you much love.

  2. Mosch has several step-children in his life, all of whom he loves dearly. Karen is my daughter, and therefore, I am the mother Mosch moved in with. Mosch was stunned at the integrity with which Karen lives her life, he was almost speechlessly admiring of how she did and continues to live her life. Although Mosch and I only lasted a few years, he has remained a dear, loved friend.

    I also met Mosch through the church youth group. He was passionate about (as Karen said) youth making authentic decisions about themselves. I agreed with him, and always had in theory, but I had never seen anyone so able to operationalize this. Mosch was passionate about everyone making authentic decisions about themselves – he always did in his life – and he did not see anything that was different for youth/teens/’young adults’. They are old enough to shape their lives, although our culture seldom admits this.

    He changed me, he helped me to grow. He gave my daughter a wonderful role model that I am so grateful she was able to take in. I am so much richer in my life for his presence. He is a person I call to talk to when I want advice, perspective, thoughtfulness.

    Karen – thanks for giving me a forum to say this – I love you – and Mosch – so very, very much.

  3. Mosch is an amazing role model. He really walks the talk in every area of his life.

  4. I’d appreciate an update on Mosch’s condition. Is he still in hospital?
    I’m in Houston. I’d like to help as I can.

  5. Dan, Mosch is out of the hospital, and doing much better. He is still in need of support and care. I’ll e-mail you.

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