New here and amazed!

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Niccakolio, Jun 15, 2008.

  1. Niccakolio

    Niccakolio New Member

    I am here as a stepmother. I have three children of my own and one due in a few short weeks, but my concern is with my stepdaughter. She is almost 11 (she had just turned 8 when I met her) and since I have been seen as an authority figure and not just a friend (a few months into my relationship with husband) my stepdaughter has displayed all the telltale signs of ODD. (Which I only became familiar with today!)

    We have been at a total loss as to what to do with her. She has recently started counseling (which she refuses to take part in) because she was drawing pictures of me on fire and writing die all over the papers (all of this because I said no when she asked me if she could do something). We have had to take her personal journals away from her because this activity continued after the initial consequence.

    I hate to say it, but husband has never been good with laying down the rules and following through. He is finally seeing what a mistake that has been, for all of us. I am glad he has started to come around.

    Reading through the symptoms and causes of ODD, I have to say she has 99% of them (probably the only one she lacks is substance abuse!) I am more than convinced she has this problem. I don't think our counselor is able to diagnose problems. I am thinking of suggesting to my husband that we take her to someone else who could diagnose her if need be.

    However, a road block for us is that her mother is, for all intents and purposes, a hippie who has extremely lax parenting skills and doesn't enforce any rules or guidelines. In fact, DSD isn't enrolled in school (nor is her younger brother, who reaches school age this fall) simply because she doesn't want to be. Her mother doesn't believe in bed times or rules, and doesn't have consequences for negative actions. She is not on board with a treatment plan for her daughter because she doesn't believe in the conventional way of doing anything (and in fact doesn't even bring the children to medical doctors, let alone ones for mental or emotional issues). I am unsure of how to go about this- if she were put on a prescription, her mother would not give it to her, and DSD is certainly not going to take them herself when she is not under our roof.

    Is there a possibility that she can have effective treatment without full support from all parties? I am concerned for where this is going, not only for our family but for my school district, who isn't that far from becoming a teen and risking making extremely poor choices.

    Thanks for reading!
  2. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Gosh, that's a tough one. If difficult child stepdau were put on medications, could you and your husband and his ex sit down with-a dr and have the dr be the "Bad Guy" and tell his ex just how important it is?

    I'm not sure taking the journals away is the best idea. I'm thinking it's a way for her to blow off steam in private. Better than actually hitting you or something. My mother used to plough through our drawers and look for our journals when we were kids, to see what we wrote about her. All it did was make me want to write more, and hate her more, because it was my only outlet. I couldn't tell my friends about her because it was a big small town and I knew how awful gossip could be. (Not that it's the same situation, just that kids need an outlet.)
    Just my 2 cents worth.
    I agree that you should talk to your husband and find someone to take your stepdau to. And do family counseling. You will learn some very useful tools and new behaviors.
    Have you read Ross Greene's The Explosive Child? Most everyone here loves it. I'd recommend it. Maybe you could have your husband read it, and then suggest counseling when he's digested some of the ideas.
  3. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Welcome. I'm glad you found us.

    In general, ODD is a symptom of a disorder rather than a diagnosis unto itself. When the underlying disorder (for example, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)) is identified and treated, the oppositional behaviors typically improve.

    While I understand your interest in stopping your school district's depressive drawings, I'm not sure consequences, such as taking away her journals, are going to solve the problem. I think her drawings are a cry for help and need answering in the form of appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

    I have some questions that might help us point you in the right direction:
    Who has custody of your school district?
    How often is she with you?
    Is there any provision about medical care in the custody agreement?
    How is your school district being educated if she's not going to school?
    What are the qualifications of the counselor?
    Has your school district ever been evaluated by a child psychiatrist?
    Any mental health issues or substance abuse in the family tree?

    When you get a chance, please complete a signature like mine below so we can keep your family's story straight. Here's a link that describes how to create a signature:

    You might want to get your hands on a copy of The Explosive Child by Ross Greene. It has helped many of us on this board parent our extra-challenging children.

    Again, welcome.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I agree that ODD rarely stands alone and if your hub can, an evaluation by a neuropsychologist would be good. The circumstances they are living in don't sound helpful. You said the mother is a "hippie." Does she do drugs? I'm wondering if hub shouldn't go full force for custody of these children. I doubt if their mother is competent to help them. Not going to school is against the law unless she is homeschooling. If she's not heck, I'd call CPS. If she doesn't bring the kids to doctors, that alone would be a big red flag to CPS. I wouldn't let her have those children. Good luck.
  5. Christy

    Christy New Member

    WELCOME! You certainly have a challenging situation. How often does husband have custody of your step daughter. I have not ever been in the position of being a step parent but I would think that husband should be more of the authority figure. He should insist upon his daughter respecting you but he should be the one to discipline and give consequences. Counseling is a good step for all of you even if your step daughter is not participating at this point.

    Good luck with your situation. I'm glad you found us!
  6. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Welcome. Looking forward to a little more information, as well. Especially as to schooling.
  7. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Welcome! Iam glad you found us, but sorry you need us. Especially with a new baby on the way! (congrats on the new little one coming soon!)

    I completely and totally wholeheartedly agree that ODD is a symptom of another problem. AND that if the underlying issue is treated the ODD disappears or is greatly lessened. been there done that with my own difficult child.

    if the chiildren are not in school, and are not given medical care, that is abusive and neglectful. CALL CPS!!! It is important that this child have structure, consistency and treatment. Her brother may also need it.

    I recommend The Explosive Child by Ross Greene. I also recommend the Love and Logic books and website ( ). The L&L book, Parenting with Love and Logic, is what FINALLY got my own husband to see that HE needed to provide discipline. It also showed him how to discipline, rather than waiting until he couldn't tolerate the behavior and yelling, among other ineffective parenting methods. With L&L we got on the same page, which is CRUCIAL. So it is a fave of mine.

    I hope to see answers to the questions posed above, and will support you however I can.