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I have a 12 yr old stepdaughter

For about a year now, my 12 yr old stepdaughter has lived with us. This child has come from a horrible background. My husband met the mother while in college and she got pregnant. They didn't really have a relationship. I met my husband when the daughter was 2 yrs old. Mom went into hiding because she didn't want us to see the child. Took 2 private investigators to find her and 5 years. They moved 22 times to evade us. We discovered mom was a drug addict and drinks heavily. After going thru the courts for 3 years, we finally was given full custody of the girl. Her mother hasn't seen her in a year and is only permitted 1 supervised phone call as she was found to be a child abuser in her home state. During the court proceedings, whild mom still had custody, the child was molested by her mom's drug dealer. This only came to light a few months ago and the state is proceeding with criminal charges against the mother and the drug dealer. I now have a child who I have bent over backwards to welcome into our home. I have 2 sons that are grown and out on their own. She just finished her first school year up here and I have been encouraging her to develop social skills as her mother didn't permit her to go outside or have friends. She is socially inept and was like an untrained animal. She didn't know how to care for herself, bathe, brush her teeth, just basic things that we all take advantage of as normal. We had to establish a bedtime as she never had one. She missed numerous days from school prior to coming to live with us. Last school year, she only missed 3 days. I have noticed that she lies and steals food and hides to eat it. I realize that her only meal during the day when she lived with her mother was at school. Otherwise, she was not fed. I provide her with cute clothes and shoes and have tried the best I can so that she looks like the rest of the kids and will fit in. At her other school she was known as dirty diana. That had quite an effect on her and I wanted to see that she didn't have the same here. New school, new state, new town, new home and a chance to meet kids that know nothing of her past. Lately, she has developed an attitude with me if I ask her to clean her room or unload the dishwasher. I have provided her with a laptop, cell phone, computer games and players, music, everything a teenage girl could want and she seems to have no problem with say hurtful things to me that on occasion, has made me cry. She is so mean to me and I do not understand it. In the beginning she wanted to learn everything and said she loved living with use because here, she has stability. Her mother doesn't pay child support, never sent a birthday present, never sent a xmas present or anything for any holiday the past year. I have went out of my way to see that she received gifts, I give her spending money and do everything I can to make her life better. I just don't know what to do about her hatefulness towards me and the lying and stealing of food. I have told her that she doesn't need to do that here. The snacks are to last all week, not just one day. She will eat a whole box of ice cream cones and hide the wrappers and deny she took them. How do I deal with the lying and the stealing? I get so frustrated I go into my room and close the door because I am so hurt by what she says to me. My husband thinks I am over-reacting but he as at work all week and I have taken the summer off to be at home with her. We have a built in pool in the back yard and she has everything that my boys had and loved. Her friends tell her she is so lucky because her mom (me) is so good to her. I go to all of her concerts at the school, made sure she sold the most pies and won a flat screen TV for her room, made sure she went on her school trip and she has as many purses as I have. I did this because I saw a little girl who was so neglected and abused that I wanted to make a difference in her life. I am just at a total loss because she has become verbally abusive to me, but not in the presences of her father. Does anyone have any suggestions on how I can help her and make her a kinder person? I am about to run away!!!

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Asked by BrendaW. at 2:58 AM on Jul. 1, 2011 in Tweens (9-12)

Level 11 (557 Credits)
Answers (33)
  • Oh, mama. Big, big hug and pat on the back to you for coming through for your stepdaughter! You are doing more than you know!

    Abuse and neglect leaves HUGE scars on kids, and it will take years of consistent love, support, and understanding from you to start to heal that. The food stealing and hoarding is very common in abused and neglected kids. The majority of them will do that. It is not an indication of her character or how she feels about you . . it is confusion and pain that has not healed yet.

    Stay with what you are doing, and get her into some counseling. She needs it . . . there is way she could go through that and not.

    And, next time you feel frustrated, put the frustration where it belongs, with her terrible mom. Give your step-daughter a hug, and remind yourself that you are doing amazing things.

    Right now you are planting seeds, mama. The roses, though, may take a long time to grow.


    Answer by ImaginationMama at 3:08 AM on Jul. 1, 2011

  • oh my..u have a very big heart. i knew of a family that adopted foster kids who were starved and abused and they also hid food in their beds under their pillows because they always thought that was the last meal and didnt know when they would get another meal- it is a survival instinct. anyways.. i think when she says mean and rude things she is just lashing out and maybe she didnt have any good role models. she might actually be a very good kid deep down, i suggest counseling. dont give up on her she needs u. your hubby should be more supportive of you though. i applaud you for opening your home and your heart to her.

    Answer by gwen20 at 3:10 AM on Jul. 1, 2011

  • She sounds like me when I was 12. I went through the same thing; neglect; abuse; feeling like no one cared. She is most likely acting out because she is scared and hurting. Have you tried counseling? That is what I needed. My foster parents loved me and did everything they could for me; yet I treated them the same way. It was because I was hurting; angry; scared; and really didn't know how to let anyone in; or how to express myself in a positive way. I was bounced around for a while and it seemed as if it was only time before I was bounced again.I was scared of being hurt. I was afraid that my parents were simply putting on a show and one day if I screwed up enough; they would stop loving me and ship me off as well. So I pushed their buttons just to see if they would still love me; no matter what. I stole food and hid it in my room as well; because I was scared to ask for more.

    Answer by Mom_Of_3_Angelz at 3:14 AM on Jul. 1, 2011

  • My foster parents told me that I didn't ave to steal all I had to do was ask; but I did it anyways. They told me there would be consequences and I didn't listen. So they grounded me and I hated them for it! But I realized why they did it and they told me it was because they loved me and wanted to know that I needed to respect their wishes and obey their rules..

    Eventually she will come to realize that you love her and you aren't going to hurt her and leave her. Please don;t give up on her now; it's the worse thing you could do! Get her into counseling; keep showing her that no matter what she does or how much she hurts you; that you love her and aren't going to give up on her. When she hurts you; tell her that it hurts; but that doesn't mean you are going to stop loving her. Eventually she will come around; but it is going to take some time. good luck and I really hope the best for you.

    Answer by Mom_Of_3_Angelz at 3:18 AM on Jul. 1, 2011

  • Thank you all for responding so quickly because I am sitting here so upset because I truly want to help her, but was at a total loss as to what to do. All of your insight will help me look at her differently and deal with her lying and hoarding food in a different manner. And I will get her counseling because she has been thru hell. Maybe she is afraid I will desert her like her mother did. That's not going to happen. I have new insight thanks to you all! Thank you so very, very much.

    Comment by BrendaW. (original poster) at 3:28 AM on Jul. 1, 2011

  • My dad grew up in an abusive home where he pretty much only got one meal a day and even now at 50 he still hides or saves food, there are going to be things from her past are deeply ingrained. I was molested as a child and it has fucked me up for life, I have PTSD, Reoccuring Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Borerline Personality Disorder which is the worst of them all. I suggest therapy, that is the only way to find out if she currently has any mental illnesses and get her properly treated for those as well as help her get through the hell of her past

    Answer by DianeMary at 3:40 AM on Jul. 1, 2011

  • Thank you DianeMary for your answer. I hope you are working to learn to deal with being molested. Please try not to let it ruin your life. Its just so hard to think that a mother would not protect her child and feed her child. My eyes have been opened by all of the responses so I can look at this in a different way. Thanks again to you all.

    Comment by BrendaW. (original poster) at 3:54 AM on Jul. 1, 2011

  • soons like she got reactive attachmnet disorder i will get the list of sytptums for ytou i have a rad step son to so as soon as i red the 1st few lines of this the red flags went up fot me

    Answer by feralkitten at 5:36 AM on Jul. 1, 2011

  • attachment disorder and rad symptoms are
    1. Lack of impulse control
    2. Self destructive behaviors
    3. Intense displays of anger (rage)
    4. Destruction of property
    5. Preoccupation with fire, gore, or evil
    6. Aggression toward others
    7. Inappropriate sexual conduct and attitudes
    8. Cruelty to animals
    9. Frequently defies rules
    10. Cannot tolerate limits and external control
    11. Victimizes others (perpetrator, bully)
    12. Exploitive (manipulative, controlling)
    13. Bossy
    14. Consistently irresponsible
    15. Inappropriately demanding and clingy
    16. Marked mood changes
    17. Stealing
    18. Deceitful (lying, conning)
    19. Hoarding, over eatting
    20. Sleep disturbance
    1. Enuresis (wets self)
    22. Encopresis (soils self)
    23. Hyperactivity
    24. Abnormal eating habits
    25. Persistent nonsense questions and incessant c

    Answer by feralkitten at 5:37 AM on Jul. 1, 2011

  • God Bless you for your heart. It will take time. Have you thought about counseling? It might not work but its worth a try. I personally hated talking to a therapist as a child, but it might work for her. The scars of abuse run deep. I was sexually abused by my father when i was a child, he also physically and verbally abused me. The first time he choked me till i passed out i was in 5th grade, i didnt want to go to school that day. He has broken arms and legs, chipped my cheek bone, dislocated my shoulder to name a few. Plus telling me constantly that i was worthless and i would never amount to anything, ugly and so many other cruel things. When he remarried, my step mother was even worse..she always treated her kids differently then me. she would let her daughter take my things, she would ransack my room and go through my diaries and tell my father so he would beat me (this was my step mother doing this). continued>>

    Answer by MonkeyMommyNJ at 5:51 AM on Jul. 1, 2011

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