new here, anybody out there like me?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by ksavage, Apr 26, 2009.

  1. ksavage

    ksavage New Member

    So hi, Im new to this site, found it browsing for strategies dealing with my 7 year old step daughter. I was just wondering if there was anyone else out there in a similar situation that may have advice, support, etc..

    My situation: I married a wonderful guy with 2 children ( I had one of my own) we also have had a child together. A few years ago his kids' mom abandoned them, giving over all her rights to us. They were 4 and 5. I have tried my best to be a great mom to them. I know its so hard to be young and not understand why the woman who should be loving and nurturing you wants nothing to do with you. The older child has adjusted well, we've really bonded and for awhile everything seemed to be going well, one big happy family. But the last year my 7 year old stepdaughter has taken a turn for the worst, behavior wise. I just dont understand it. All her anger seems to be aimed right at me. We have been in counseling for a year with no change, her behavior is only getting worse. She constantly beats on my 3 year old child. To the point that they absolutely cannot be unsupervised even for a minute. She lies constantly, steals from me, destroys my things. Im at my breaking point. Shes doing great at school, I got her involved in sports. I consider myself to be a fair, rational parent. If I punish her for her bad behavior, it only worsens. To the point that I have to keep my bedroom door locked or she'll sneak in and destroy everything she can find that belongs to me. Yet she never talks back or yells at me or anything. Its always sneaky stuff. The counselor says shes ODD. Ive tried everything they suggest with no favorable results. Im seriously at my breaking point.

    Is there anyone else out there dealing with a child diagnosed as ODD. What works for you? How do you cope?:sad-very:
  2. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Welcome to the gang! It's a great site - a lot of caring, experienced people.

    Has she had a total neuropsychologist evaluation done? If not, I'd suggest it. You can have them done at a Childrens or Teaching Hospital and they can help you get a clearer idea as to what's going on.

    Do you have info . about her developmental milestones? That could help as well.

    I hate when they diagnosis someone as ODD and then dismiss you.

    Try Ross Greene's book "The Explosive Child". It really gives you some insight!

    Gotta run -

    Welcome !

  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    ODD rarely stands alone, and your little one has had a hard early life. That will affect her even if her life is good now. Was she ever sexually abused? What was life like with Mom?
    I would get the neuropsychologist evaluation--it's great--and go from there.

    Welcome to the board:D
  4. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    You will find others here who have had similar step-parenting experiences, of problem children. Help is here, in so many ways.

    Read the book - it really helps. If you can get your husband to lurk/post here, that also helps.

    others will be along soon, plus when I get more time (maybe in the morning, my time) I'll try to post more.

    Meanwhile - for a sneak peek at "Explosive Child" principles, have a look at the stickies in the Early Childhood forum, there is some good discussion there on how to adapt it to younger children.

    MWM is correct - ODD, in such a young child, without an underlying diagnosis - I'd be very sceptical. It's too pat, a bit too simplistic. And yes, the stricter you are and the more you try to discipline, the worse you make it. There are other easier and more effective ways. Read the book. It explains how to turn it around. But you really do need her father on board here, I suspect you've been doing too much of the parenting he should have been (hey, it happens for many good reasons as well as bad ones).


  5. ksavage

    ksavage New Member

    Yes she was sexually abused in her bio moms care. Left with sitters to young to be babysitting or just left alone with her 5 year old brother. Their home was disgusting, like something off an episode of cops. We couldn't bring any of her clothes or toys with us because of the roaches and lice. They pretty much scavenged for food. Or if she had money she'd buy them some candy. It took the first 2 years just to get all their medical and dental issues worked out. She has not had a nueropsych evaluation or anything. We knew they would have some problems. I mean who wouldn't? However her brother seems to have accepted the fact that his bio mom is gone for good and he's really moved on. He's a normal, happy kid. But my poor step daughter is just so angry. She told me yesterday (after a day of hell) that she knows it's hard for me to deal with her, but its just too hard for her to deal with her bio mom's not loving her anymore. It was such an adult thing for a 7 year old to say and it really floored me. It's the first time she's really acknowledged her bad behavior and the effect it has on others. My problem and what the counselors just cant seem to answer is why now? Why after almost 4 years is she just starting this? Her and her brother went through the exact same things yet he has only blossomed under our care and she has gone the other way. We've talked about getting her in a 30 day residential center. The counselor has advised it but Im not sure if that would help or harm her. She has such a fear of being abandoned, Im afraid it would scare her and make her shut down. Anyway, thanks for the welcome. Im so glad I found this site.
  6. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    I would think this goes directly back to her prior abuse and neglect. I'm just a mom but I'm thinking attachment issues... she's pushing you away because of the way her bio-mom treated her. I think I would try to avoid an out-of-home placement if it were possible (it may not be). But I would look at getting a multidisciplinary exam to rule out other issues (mood disorder or other mental illness, developmental disorder, etc) and go from there.
  7. house of cards

    house of cards New Member

    I also would look into attatchment problems. I would also get her evaluated for any other mental health problems because some are inheritable and can be the cause (self medicating) of the drug abuse in the parent. It isn't an easy road to travel but it can get better, hang in there.
  8. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Hello and Welcome!

    There are counselors and then there are counselors--and it sounds as though yours has diagnosed ODD and recommended a residential treatment facility. To me, those two things do not make any sense. I am wondering if your counselor is not the right one for your situation....?

    ODD is more of a "description of behavior" rather than a reason. And when you heard that your child was oppositional and defiant--didn't you feel like saying "Yea, tell me something I DON'T know."...? I know that was MY reaction.

    Something is happening to cause your daughter to act in oppositional and defiant ways. Clearly she is angry. Clearly she is upset. Is there another underlying condition that is yet undiagnosed? Possibly. But until your daughter is very thoroughly tested, there is no way to know for sure and any sort of treatment (whether medication or residential facilities) will just be a shot in the dark.

    Find a child neuropsychologist and arrange for a complete exam. Then, you may have a few more answers and will know which direction to head for treatment.

  9. cyncan

    cyncan Guest

    Hello and Welcome

    I can so relate - I also am a stepmom to two kids - they are now 16 and 17 - but they came to live with us when they were 5 and 6. GFGSD was 5. What your daughter is doing sounds exactly like mine. My daughter has attachment issues big time - diagnosed Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD).

    I believe your daughter directs her anger and destruction at you because she is afraid you are going to leave too. It could have take this long to come out because she has realized how much she loves and depends on you - and it is very scary for her. Don't take it personally (I know - easier said than done). It actually shows you are doing things right!

    I can't claim to have had a lot of success with my GFGSD - but we continue to try to move forward. Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is a hard one and is mostly behavior modification - work with her while she is young - don't wait.

  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    There can be a delay in acting out. She had a long honeymoon period with you and now she's getting mad, and the target is the world. in my opinion though sending away a child who is dealing with being rejected by her mother is not a good plan. I think it will make her freak out and in the longrun things will be worse. She's awfully young for an Residential Treatment Center (RTC).

    You can't compare kids either. SD obviously needs a lot of help and if the boy was sexually abused so does he, regardless of how he seems to be thriving. Those issues can go underground and emerge tenfold at a later date if you don't put a lid on it. Stepson can be perfect (afraid to tick you off so you won't reject him) then, as a teen, suddenly feel very angry and start using drugs. Please don't take his complacency to mean he has moved on. She is still his mother and she rejected him. And he was still sexually or physically or emotionally abused/neglected. You need to take them to somebody familiar with abuse because it's a very sensitive issue. We went through it here with my kids. A foster child abused them, but the issues didn't magically go away when we finally found out and sent him off. It doesn't work like that, unfortunately.

    ODD is a very "iffy" diagnosis that usually means "we don't know." It doesn't address the cause of the behavior. I think you should get both kids evaluated for other disorders and get them a therapist who specializes in abuse issues. You can't expect these kids to have no issues. They are going to have issues for a long time to come and some kids act out more than others.

    I don't know why husband didn't get custody sooner, but he didn't or couldn't...and the kids had a bad early life. They could even have attachment issues.

    I hope you take them to a specialized counselor very soon. These issues MUST be address. in my opinion they are more important than the children's behaviors right now, although they should subside if they get the right kind of help. (Then, again, some abused kids don't get over it. Please don't wait).
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2009
  11. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Welcome... You wanted to know if anyone out there was like you... Yup! You could be describing my stepdaughter to a tee.

    I can't really offer any different advice than what people here have already given. What I can say is this - just being able to post on this board, and find out that I'm not alone, has helped me learn how to deal with things. And you know what? Even though my kids' biomom is still in the picture and wreaking havoc, husband and I have a plan. It morphs, but it's there... Now that we have a teensy bit of insight!

    It gets better, it gets worse, it gets better... And so on. It sounds like you are trying to do what's right, which makes you a great mom!

    Hugs. And keep coming back.
  12. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    She sounds like a really special kid. Kudos to her to be able to express herself so well. However, be careful - she could also learn very quickly to tell people what "sells".

    Why she is targetting you, stealing/trashing your stuff - she is testing you, trying to make you reject her. She is afraid it will happen and at some level si trying to make it hurry up and happen, waiting for the other shoe to drop is agonising.

    I also agree - don't be too complacent about the boy. Each child's experience and perception of the experience will have been different. Their reacgtions will therefore be different. He may simply be less aware of just how bad it was; one day, the penny will drop. Then you need to be prepared.

    A friend of easy child's when growing up, was molested by one of her mother's boyfriends. The mother was a really loving, responsible woman who just didn't know and was horrified when she found out. The child would have been about 4 or 5 when it happened. It was a bond we had in common - easy child was molested when she was 5, by a 7 year old kid at school. easy child didn't tell me for two years and those years of fear when she hid it, were years of damage and terror.
    Her friend's mother got her daughter into counselling, but also did her own therapy. At one point (the girl must have been ready and I think this was done with the therapist's involvement) the mother got the girl to write down the things she needed to say to her abuser. She then was invited to let it all out and to vent her feelnigs. The mother was horrified at what came out - her quiet, polite girl became a screaming banshee, ripping at the paper, swearing such filth and anger. Then when she had finally spent herself, they went out into the backyard and burned the paper.

    easy child and her old school friend have both grown up. Amazingly, there were no serious behaviour problems growing up with either of them. easy child is a comfort eate which worries me. Otherwise - both girls are a success in their lives both professional and personal.

    It can be done.

    But it requires a lot more therapy, directed to the specific problems, than we often think.

    I also would be wary of someone who felt that ODD was a handy label for such a complex set of issues. I also am very nervous about the wisdom of Residential Treatment Center (RTC) for a kid who is at some level testing you to see if you will eventually reject her. I'm not saying, "definitely get a new therapist," but I DO feel a second opinion is warranted. Perhaps through a neuropsychologist evaluation? More information there could give you a lot of useful answers.