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DSD and eating...

(20 Posts)
pingusmumtoo Thu 15-Nov-12 11:31:36

First post on this board so I'll try to keep it short and clear.
DSD (9) has always been a bit of a finicky eater and I'm sure it's the control thing - the poor kid gets pillar to posted by her mummy all the time, the most recent upheaval being moving them to her home country for a year as her mum (DSD's grandma) is at end stages of a terminal illness. They came back after 3 weeks because (according to her mum) DSD hadn't settled. So I'm far from surprised to see over the last two weekends her eating issue is back with avengance - I only cook things I know she likes but last weekend she was literally taking bites about equivalent to half a teaspoon and gutting imaginary fat out of every piece of roast gammon. I did (and probably shouldn't have) say tvsomething- but along the lines of her body needing more fuel and that it was tricky tickling someone who was so bony.
You can pretty much see every rib and every vertebrate on her little body and it worries me sick.
The other issue we have is DS (4) is not the world's greatest eater - partly I'm sure due to him watching his much adored big sister refuse to eat most things when he was younger and I really don't want him picking up more 'bad' habits.
So DP has had a text from his ex saying that he must tell me not to make an issue of it and just leave DSD to it - not us but me specifically - his ex hates me would be an understatement.
I said my house, my rules and she needs to eat her food without nagging or taking hours - DP then says well we need to work on DS eating better - I point out he probably has his issues because of watching DSD already and DP does the usual and says so it's all DSD'S fault then is it... No it's the situation and her mother's... but apparently I'm being unreasonable and as usual he ignores all his ex's responsibility in his daughter's issues and it becomes my fault because I don't like her - which is utter nonsense.
So how do I handle this ? I am so sick of the over-compensating he does because his ex is not making a secure happy home for their daughter and the complete lack of ability on his part to separate DSD the lovely little girl from DSD the situation

pingusmumtoo Thu 15-Nov-12 11:36:27

Sorry by 'the situation' I mean it's not because it's DSD that doesn't eat i.e. I'm not picking on her but the issue needs addressing before she becomes ill and DS picks up her habits.
Sorry it's long and garbled...

purpleroses Thu 15-Nov-12 11:47:13

Tough one, but all the advice I've ever come across with kids that don't eat much is that the more pressure you put on them to eat, the more stressed they get and the worse things get. Some kids are just like that - so you might be best to talk your concerns with your DP, or get him to take DD to GP if really worried, but not to put pressure on her directly. And blaming her mum isn't going to help, especially if she and DSD are having a tough time with the gramdmother dying at the moment.

Your DS is also much more likely to be affected if he sees DSD getting lots of fussing over and causing lots of stress by not eating, than by simply her not eating a great deal, which he probably wouldn't even notice.

Would she drink high calorie milkshakes? Or are there any really basic things she can fill up more on? (breakfast cereals, etc). Or would she eat better if you let her picnic in front of the telly, some of the time maybe? Might take the pressure off her a bit.

neolara Thu 15-Nov-12 11:47:16

Blimey. It sounds like your DSD has, or is on the brink, of a full blown eating disorder. I think all the adults involved need to have a united front on how to deal with this one and I think you should take advice from an expert in the field on what the correct approach should be. Adults fighting about who's right and wrong is going to be disastrous for your DSD. Family therapy?

elliebellys Thu 15-Nov-12 11:49:30

Sorry to say but by telling dsd shes to bony for ticklin isnt goin to make her eat,she appears to have a eating disorder prob due to the emotional stress with her grandmas illness.i think both her parents should make a gp appointment for your son,most kids go thru being picky with their food,whats he like when its just you and dh?

IceBergJam Thu 15-Nov-12 12:10:49

This is very tricky. If DSD is very underweigh and restrictive over what she eats then a trip to the GP may be needed. Maybe without DSD to gain a different opinion.

Could the situation with her Grandma and the stress the Mother must be feeling be affecting her?

Have you tried all the usual tricks of cooking together? Asking her to pick meals etc?

I don't actually have an answer. DSSs are very bad eaters. DSS 16 has a list of about 10 things he will eat, prepared only in a certain way. I tried everything over the years but still resulted in him at 15 crying in a resturant because his burger had a smudge of sauce on it. He is skinny, pale and eats about 5 portions of fruit and veg in a 10 to 14 day period. We were all worried about him (including his Mum) because his memory is appalling so arrange a blood test ( which we couldn't engage with his Mother over as kept getting no response) so when informed it was arranged she got annoyed and told him he didn't need to go. So he didn't.

That's where we are at, no other way forwads but to leave him to it and keep providing food in the hope that one day he wont pull it apart.

It can be so stressful though. I also worry about the impact on my DD but she is still to young to realise he is eating cheese sarnies every night.

pingusmumtoo Thu 15-Nov-12 12:29:45

Good ideas thanks all. I'm sure it's all down to the situation she's been put in and I hope it will pass but I am terrified it is the start of a full blown eating disorder. Alas there is no way of getting her parents to discuss this - DP just lets her mother do whatever she sees fit in order to not rock the boat. DSD's mum is unreasonable, manipulative, selfish and a total nightmare to deal with full stop.
As for DS - he eats with coaxing regardless of his big sister being here or not - it's the variety of food - personally I think he will add more foods to his repertoire as he grows up - but I am concerned he doesn't copy his big sister. It was the fact that DP chose to move discussion from how we handle DSD to 'DS doesn't eat properly anyway' . He eats breakfast fine, eats fish fingers, sausages, chicken nuggets, spaghetti bolognese (with tons of hidden veg), pasta, small amounts of rice, chips (home made in oven), some veg (carrots, peas, green beans), most fruit, small pieces of cheese - but no eggs, no 'proper' meat, no potatoes in other forms - now to me that seems fine - he eats what he eats and it's just fuel to him - the sausage, fishfinger, chicken nugget thing is exactll the only things his sister would eat when she was 5/6/7.
Anyway - we have DSD all this weekend and I think I'll just carry on with cooking food she likes, small portions and asking them both to finish what's on their plates - no snacks (DSD is happy to eat sweets - surprise surprise) but I'm trying to not do the in front of the TV thing. She is such a lovely, well adjusted little girl all things considered but I'm so worried about this. She is still going to be dragged back and forth to see her grandma (really not so sure it's a good idea) and we have no idea what the situation is at home (they live with her mum's boyfriend but completely moved out when they moved country and although DSD thought they would all live together when they got back (which they are) her mum told DP's mum they would be movings somewhere else - it's all so confusing and unsettling and there's bugger all I can do

elliebellys Thu 15-Nov-12 12:37:47

Pinga why would takin dsd to visit dying grandma not be good?.to be honest reading that last post you havd a massive problem,you could all do with every post you always seem to be so critical of ex nd dsd.i feel really sorry for this child.

pingusmumtoo Thu 15-Nov-12 13:02:41

Er perhaps because watching your grandmother die ie living in the same tiny flat while she vomits and heaves and cannot get out of bed for your half term holiday is more than any child needs to deal with. Blaming same child for moving back after 3 weeks because she has not settled when child says she was happy and making new friends - and I appreciate it's a hellish situation but surely childs welfare comes first.

pingusmumtoo Thu 15-Nov-12 13:03:55

And I have not been critical of DSD only incredibly worried about her

elliebellys Thu 15-Nov-12 13:12:00

When any family member is dying it is devastatin,the ex is being torn apart nd is prob tryin her your posts your your hate fof her is pouring out.lots of posters havd given good advice regardin the eating problems but somehow dont think uv really taken anythin on board.

pingusmumtoo Thu 15-Nov-12 13:15:23

But hell yes I'm critical of the ex - she's got a long history of spending as little time as possible with her daughter and palming her off on whoever will have her never mind the absolute hell she put the eldest DSD through when she lived with DP. She will not discuss anything like an adult, lies and is generally a thoroughly unpleasant human being. But she is her mum and I will and have supported her decisions and have never said a bad word about her in front of her child - she on the other hand is more than happy her daughter knows how much she hates me. Just lucky DSD doesn't share her view.m

elliebellys Thu 15-Nov-12 13:24:50

What shes like is irrelevent,the most important thing is this child is recieving help for her emotional problems,nd its no good ur dp burying his head in sand bout it,he needs to man up and get help.asap before it gets worse.

WakeyCakey Thu 15-Nov-12 14:53:51

She is your DSDs mum and therefore it doesn't matter if you have a problem towards her this is her child!

my dsd is a crazy picky eater. i now have a sign in my kitchen that i bought from debenhams that says

Options for dinner
1. Take it
2. Leave it.

I've found that it helps.
Don't blame her mother who is clearly hurting and is going through shit. That's just not fair on her and you seem to be so critical about her that the child will notice even if you don't say it out loud!

pingusmumtoo Thu 15-Nov-12 14:59:45

Think what you like - I'm worried my youngest DSD is developing an eating disorder and that her behavior will rub off on DS. I shall carry on doing what we are doing and try to avoid making an issue of it. Will switch to full fat milk this weekend for her and see what else we can sneak in that is calorific and not junk.

Lookingatclouds Thu 15-Nov-12 17:39:50

How often is she with you? It's really difficult when you are a step-mum to influence anything like this, if you aren't in agreement with what the child's mum or dad are doing.

Lookingatclouds Thu 15-Nov-12 17:45:36

Sorry, that posted before I'd finished! Do you know if her mum has taken any advice about this? Do you talk to her about it?

I had a similar situation with dsd, who was a really fussy eater, and I just used to give her food that was as healthy as possible within what she would eat, and just not make an issue of the food at all. I am very much of the take it or leave it mould, and that's how I approached things with dd. She really looks up to her older sister, but I didn't find that she copied her at all when it came to eating.

I would look at the two children and their eating very separately and deal with them in their own right.

pingusmumtoo Thu 15-Nov-12 19:31:58

We only have her every other weekend so very little time to do anything concrete though in the past when we've had her for a while there's always been a marked improvement and shes got more relaxed, put on a little weight, the panda eyes have gone and generally she seems a happier girl.
Unfortunately her mum won't talk to DP or me about anything properly - DP gets textsbit they are fairly dismissive and lacking any proper info.
I have tried and tried with her mum but she now just refuses to acknowledge me at all if she sees me and continues with the nasty comments to DSD. This has now started to include comments about DS being only a half brother :-( I explained that this didn't really matter as my younger brother is only half brother too because my dad is my 'step' dad but you wouldn't know because that's not what is important.
Anyway there is tons of history as to why I think her mum is not doing a great job but really what is important is what we van do whilst she is with us and just keep an eye on it. I've been out and bought shopping for the weekend to sneak extra calories into her - the milkshake comment was a good call and will just see what we can do.
And I think that you're probably right about treating them separately though DS already tells me he's full after one piece of forefinger a pasta spiral and a slice of carrot!

pingusmumtoo Thu 15-Nov-12 19:34:10

FISHFINGER - I promise the eating problems are not because we are cannibals!

brdgrl Thu 15-Nov-12 20:00:36

pingu, I think you are concerned both for your DSD and your DS, and in your shoes I would be too. I don't think you have been critical of DSD either. She has been through a lot, hasn't she, and the stay with GM must have been very hard. Maybe the best thing you can offer her at this stage is just the 'safe place' and a sort of retreat from what must be a very emotional time with her mum. I wondered if it might be a good sign that she had told your DP to tell you to back off - that maybe she was expressing (in an unnecessarily bitchy way) the view that 'making an issue' of the eating with DSD was a bad idea and that she wanted to take a different approach...but can see from rest of your posts that it isn't clear that the mum is doing anything about it at all!

If she won't discuss it and has DSD most of the time, and if your DP is so defensive/unwillig to deal with it - I just don't see what you can do that might not rebound and make things worse for poor DSD.

One thing you could maybe try is to get DSD involved in making food and snacks for DS? Without making a big deal about her food choices, you could involve her in "teaching your brother about good eating", and maybe there are things you three could prepare together, giving her tasks for her age and letting him do things at his level. She might find it gives her a sense of control over food if she is teaching her little brother, and you can make a bit of fun out of tasting things and getting food into her in a nonthreatening/nonpressurised way at the same time.

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