Boyfriend's 11 year old daughter is starving herself… Advice?

posted 2 years ago in Parenting
Post # 31
Member
2633 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2017

dresscrazy34 :  my advice would be to start talking to her about proper diet and weight management the healthy way, by just avoiding added sugars and overly processed foods, and how eating too little can put your body into starvation mode and make you gain weight in a wierd way, but approach the conversation like you would with a peer discussing a common interest, not in an authoritative way.

Post # 32
Member
10462 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: City, State

dresscrazy34 :  

If he does not get that child into treatment, he’ll be making the situation a hell of a lot worse when she is ends up hospitalized or worse.

This is not about him or his ex or her alleged craziness.  

Anorexia has the highest death rate of any mental illness.

Between 5-20% of victims will DIE.

Nobody in this scenario is taking this seriously enough.  Your bf is this child’s parent.  He has an absolute responsibility to get his daughter into treatment without delay.  Let her mother yell and scream.  He can have his attorney go to court ex parte for an order forcing the mother to cooperate if it comes to that.

I’m appalled that he would let it get this far.  This girl clearly has an eating disorder.  There are no words you or anyone else in her life can say that will turn her around. The more people try to get her to eat, the more she’ll resist.  She needs expert medical intervention.  Right this minute  Today.

https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/eating-disorders/anorexia-nervosa/features/anorexia-body-neglected#1

 

Post # 33
Member
352 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

Some really good advice above. I just wanted to add that the sizing at Hollister from my experience at that age seemed to be geared toward a very small / petite body shape. If her friends are wearing things from Hollister and even saying they are size 0 or some such thing, that may be wear the pressure is coming from.

A therapist, her father, or someone really needs to get to the bottom of what pressure she is feeling and what misguided thoughts she sees as reality so they can be targed and revealed to her as short-sighted, unrealistic, etc.

If school is where the pressure is from, could she be removed from that school for the time being due to health issues? I’m sure she would resist, but this is her health (physical and mental) on the line.

Post # 34
Member
2059 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: March 2017

Yes. I went through this with DH’s step daughter. I suggest that you get professional help right away. Her pediatrician can do tests to see how her blood work looks. She needs a therapist right away. When step daughter started restricting her food we didn’t take it seriously enough. I think we were in denial. It got worse and worse. 

We finally got her help. She got a referral from her pediatrician for a therapist. It wasn’t a quick fix at all, but she did get better. By the time she graduated high school, she was in much better shape. We were very fortunate that she didn’t have to be hospitalized, but we were very close. 

Post # 35
Member
651 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 2017

My advice here is to get her into therapy for this disorder and then you really need to start doing some homework on signs to look out for. Eating disorders are deceptive and she will not stop without a fight. She will just learn to hide it better. I doubt this is about weight. I think she is using this to control her emotions.

Post # 36
Member
128 posts
Blushing bee

As someone who is now recovered from an eating disorder that manifested at age 12, I really feel for your step-daughter right now. It is not only vital that you and your partner get specialist help for your step-daughter, but it is also important for anyone involved in parenting her to learn about how to approach such a sensitive topic, and how their words and behaviours can deeply affect whether her eating disorder gets worse, or whether she starts to recover.

Eating disorder sufferers have very little, or no self-worth. They often believe that their worth is inherrently attached to their weight.

As children, we observe people devaluing themselves based on their weight constantly. We hear people talking about their perpetual diets, losing weight, gaining weight, cellulite, flab, restriction, attractiveness. Seldom do we hear them talk about using food to nourish their bodies and improve their health.

Children need to be taught how to build their own sense of self-worth and their self-esteem. If we teach them that those things are dependent on their weight, their physical appearence and their attractiveness, then that is what they will believe. I didn’t care if I died in pursuit of weight loss, which I believed would give me worth, make me attractive and provide me with happiness. 

It’s important to encourage children to value themselves, to teach them how to care for their bodies, to realise that loving and caring for yourself isn’t selfish but neccessary. Parents need to teach that physical appearence doesn’t define our worth, and that food is a tool to nourish our bodies, not a pacifier. 

We live in a society where being slim is valued and seen as attractive, while being overweight, obese, or even on the curvier side of healthy is ridiculed. Our society makes value judgements of people based on their weight and appearence, rather than on their words, actions and contributions. It’s not enough to just hide our own unhealthy behaviours and thoughts from our children, we must teach them healthy behaviours.

Additionally, eating disorders can also manifest as a means of control. Children should be allowed to control aspects of their own lives other than just physically eating or not eating. They need to feel they have a say. You can teach your child that what they want matters without them having control over you as a parent. Ask their opinions. Validate them when they make decisions for themselves. Encourage them to speak up if they do or don’t want to do something.

The mother’s behaviour is extremely worrying and is, in my opinion, indicative of an emotionally disfunctional relationship. If she is ok screaming and shouting at her child in the presence of other adults, how does she behave when nobody else is there? Likely, she is nastier to her daughter when there is nobody to witness her behaviour.

I grew up with a father who behaved this way. He belittled me, screamed and shouted at me, made derogatory comments about my weight and appearence, and generally made me feel worthless. He once dumped a plate of bolognese in my lap saying “you don’t need to get any fatter, or no man will ever want you. You’re disgusting”. Regardless of the fact that I was at a perfectly healthy weight for a 17 year old at the time, and deep in the throes of bulimia, language and attitudes such as this are extremely damaging. 

Eating disorders must be approached with love, kindness, support and openness. It’s important not to place blame on a child who is experiencing an eating disorder. It is not a choice, it is a coping mechanism. Trying to force her to eat may make her more resitant as it will make her feel that her control is being taken away. 

There are some great resources on the internet about how to help your child when they have an eating disorder. Using these accompanied with professional assistance will be hugely beneficial to your step-daughter. 

Her dad (and you, if you take an active parenting role) needs to have a discussion with her about how her mother treats her. If her mother is indeed emotionally abusive, then her father needs to remove her from that situation asap. 

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/eating-disorders/helping-someone-with-an-eating-disorder.htm

https://www.eatingdisorders.org.au/eating-disorder-fact-sheets

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/general-information

https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/eatingdisorders/Pages/eating-disorders-advice-parents.aspx

 

 

Post # 37
Member
4002 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: October 2016

BalletParker :  thanks so much for being there for me last year and for your prayers. I appreciate it Bee, more than you know 🙂 Iv had talks with her recently about turning it around. We will see. I’m hopeful and scared

Post # 38
Member
4002 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: October 2016

sassy411 :  this x100..

i don’t think OP read what I wrote on the first page. This requires professional help yesterday.

I can’t stress enough that The sooner she gets help, the better her chances of recovery. This is so serious. Screaming at her like her mother does or avoiding help because the other parent is “patient” is going to cause the disorder to get worse and it will quickly spiral out of control, trust me.

Post # 39
Member
4002 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: October 2016

onlythemarginleft :  your post made me cry. It is the most moving explanation of my sister’s struggles that I’ve ever read. Thank you for posting that. I wish you all the best and can only hope one day my sister can see things with as much clarity as you do. 

Post # 40
Member
10462 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: City, State

Cheekie0077 :  

Absolutely agreed.  I am really worried about this girl.  She needs at least one grown up parent.

Post # 41
Member
128 posts
Blushing bee

Cheekie0077 : 

Thank you, I’m touched that you found my words moving. 

I wish your sister a full recovery. It is a hard battle to win, but I ended up gaining so much from recovery that I am now glad that I went through the eating disorder. It forced me to learn and grow and be strong in order to recover. 

It is so difficult being someone who loves and supports an eating disorder sufferer. It hurts to watch someone you love hurt themselves. You sound like an awesome and compassionate sister to have. Just know that every kindness you have provided your sister with is a lifeline for her. Knowing that someone loves you even when you hate yourself can make fighting worth it on days when you really don’t want to.

Post # 42
Member
4002 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: October 2016

onlythemarginleft :  thank you for your kind words. Your last paragraph spoke to me and made me cry.

i hope OP is helping her Boyfriend or Best Friend and his ex wife navigate recovery for their daughter. It is imperative and can save her life.

Post # 43
Member
104 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: September 2020

I would explain to her not getting enough calories means not getting enough nutrients which means bad breath, bad skin, hair loss etc, if she’s doing it for vanity reasons that might shock her into realising it’s not the best route to go. I wouldn’t worry about the lack of meat if that’s something she doesn’t like because she can get the nutrients she needs from veg. Perhaps though she had an eating disorder and might need professional help 

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