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04 Mar 2004

Over eating skinny 14 year old girl
I am a step mother to 3 girls ages are 12, 13 & 14. I have a 15 year old son of my own. I met a very nice man who has sole custody of his 3 girls. Their mother abandoned them while they were still in primary school. The mother often used to eat in front of them and never feed them dispite their cries.

Before I came along they were 10, 11 & 12 they were without a mother figure for a while and their father used to work long hours. During the day 14 year old daughter and 12 year old daughter would finish 2 loaves of bread by themselves and the 13 year old wouldn't have anything. Then I came along and put some rules into place and found the 13 year old daughter has a healthy appetite and will eat vegatables now and not just meat. The 12 year old daughter is not over-weight any. However the 14 year old daughter will still eat 7 plates of food in a space of 6 hours and still be hungry. I initially thought that she was eating too fast, but when I got her to eat slowly, she was always hungry for more. She always complains that her helping of food is little compared to her sisters and will eat other people's food without being offered, she will also stare at people while they are eating. I have tried teaching her socially acceptable ways, but it seems she is ignores me and her father. I get the distinct impression that she is obsessed with food. Food is all that she has and all that is important to her. When she finds an opportunity to sneak a block of cheese or cook herself mash or two minute noodles when her siblings are not around then she will. A recent event - there was only 2 bananas left and we asked the children to share them in half after school. It turned out that everyone was handed their share of the divided bananas and the 14 year old exchanged her banana with my sons banana (who wasn't there at the time of sharing). She denied this flatly even although her two sisters were there and told the events that took place. She cried and performed like a 7 year old (she cries for the slighted things). Also we had some wine in the fridge and it misteriously finished and no one knew what had happend, yet I have a very sneaky suspicion that it was the eldest daughter as she is alway asking her father what alcohol tastes like. (Even although their father has given her a sip and on Christmas I've given the children a little in their glasses). I'm really concerned about her way of thinking of food all the time, and her constant lying. She behaves like a 10 year old and doesn't have any friends in her age group and gets along well with younger children. Is it possible she is finding comfort in food or has their mothers desertion and lack of feeding and caring for them left her feeling rejected? How do I handle this situation, because I've tried understand the physcological theory behind their earlier childhood experience, but I am not a professional and I'm really having a hard time with this.

Answer 536 views

01 Jan 0001

Dear Kind, Concerned Stepmom
All your children are very lucky to have YOU as a stepmom and mother. I can feel the care and concern you have for all the children. From what you say about the eldest daughter, I suspect that you are correct that she is using food for comfort because of feelings of desertion and rejection, AND as a weapon and attention-getting device. Because it is very difficult to handle such situations if one is not a professional as you say, I would strongly urge you to consult a clinical psychologist (ask your gp to refer you, or look in the Yellow Pages or contact one of the Eating Disorder clinics). You don't mention where you live? If you are in Gauteng then it may help to contact Tara Hospital as they have an Eating Disorder clinic (phone (011) 783-2010. In Cape Town and environs you can contact the Kenilworth Clinic (021) 797-1400 and in KwaZulu Natal there is Riverview Manor (033) 701-1911.
I am holding thumbs for all of you.
Best regards
The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical examination, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.
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