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Fussy eating SS

(30 Posts)
strugglingstepdad Sat 29-Oct-16 19:59:32

Me and my partner have just moved in together and I have "inherited" four lovely step kids.

They live with us full time and only have contact with their dad once a week by phone (he is only allowed supervised contact but refuses to organise it, but to be fair after what the kids went through they're not bothered about not seeing him). They all went through hell for the past 13 years (well obviously different ages, but the eldest is 12 and the beatings started before he was born).

This brings me to my problem. The eldest refuses point blank to eat anything he "thinks" he won't like. This is most of the time. There are very few foods he will eat. A lot of the time this was allowed by DP as if he had said he didn't want to eat something he would have been hit. This was as recent as July last year.

Now forward onto today. I bought a take away and he asked for a garlic bread. I ordered the wrong one and got the one with cheese. Now a few weeks ago he ate one with cheese and didn't notice and enjoyed it. This time without even trying it he refused to eat it because it had cheese on.

It's a struggle because DP is cooking 2 meals a night (proper food for the other 3 and herself and whatever DSS will eat that day). My first response is to say "eat the same as everyone else or go without" but that worries me as I don't want him to starve. It doesn't help that Social Services are involved so all it takes is for him to say we've denied him food and it's at risk of becoming abuse! Especially as they have only just come off a child protection plan ( to protect from their dad not mum).

Any help gratefully received!

neonrainbow Sat 29-Oct-16 20:04:52

As everything is so recent i think you have to bite your tongue and let your dp handle it all.

Somerville Sat 29-Oct-16 20:06:23

Are these children having counselling? They probably all need to be, but certainly the oldest one from what you've said here. If I were you I would encourage his mother to go to the GP about her concerns about his eating, and ask about counselling while she's there.

I don't think the usual advice about getting fussy eaters to eat more are advisable when a child is dealing with trauma. Professionals need to be advising here.

In the meantime I wouldn't push it. I'd let him have some of the control that has for so long been taken from him by allowing him to eat what he wants.

strugglingstepdad Sat 29-Oct-16 20:11:20


Social Services and the school have been "organising" counselling for him for a year now, as it was part of the child protection plan, but this has yet to materialise.

Luckily the other 3 don't seem to be having the same problems and have come out of their previous life without as much emotional impact as yet.

longdiling Sat 29-Oct-16 20:27:05

It sounds like this poor kid has way too much to deal with to be making an issue of his eating. Especially as food/eating was something that was used against him by his Dad. I'd back right off and just let him be comfortable at meal times for now. If you really want to help can you do some batch cooking for her so she has some easy meals to grab in the freezer? Either for your SS or the other kids?

Manumission Sat 29-Oct-16 20:33:04

Lots of DC are extremely fussy eaters for all manner of reasons.

Don't make an issue of it. I think your wife is doing exactly the right thing. Why are you trying to change things?

JunosRevenge Sat 29-Oct-16 20:36:38

As everything is so recent i think you have to bite your tongue and let your dp handle it all.


As others have said, this goes much deeper than mere 'faddy' eating. The poor child is still traumatised, and needs to feel that they have some kind of control. They need patience and understanding, not arguing over what food they will/won't have.

In time, as trust returns, he might choose to expand his food choices. Or he might not. Either is ok.

Somerville Sat 29-Oct-16 20:37:19

Go the GP about the eating then. It might be that a referral to a nutritionalist will be helpful. Tell him/her to chase up the counselling too. Waiting a year is awful for your step son. (Are the funds available to pay for private counselling? I pay for my children's therapy post a bereavement because they didn't click with the counsellors they were offered through school.)

I agree with PP's. Please don't tell him to eat what he's given or go hungry. He's used to being controlled in so many ways and he is choosing to exert control over a very important area of his life - what he puts into his body. A new man exerting control over his diet - even with good intentions - will be counter-productive. It probably won't help his eating and it definitely won't help your relationship with him in the long term.

The other thing is them at fussy eating is a fairly standard thing that lots of kids go through. Try not to be too worried about it.

strugglingstepdad Sat 29-Oct-16 20:37:24

Longdiling I would love to do that. I'm very honest that I don't do much around the house, but me and my partner have spoken about this because my work shifts are long and very labour intensive, as well as the way my shifts work I don't often have time. I leave for work at about 11.30am and don't get home until about 12.30-2am.

It's a mixture of both sides for me, I want him to try things and enjoy meal times, but also want the burden lifted from my partner. I only really see the kids on Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday nights as my shift finishes early Sundays.

Please note I'm not a lazy sit on the sofa person, I'm often up and about doing stuff around the house on my days off! My partner used to have to keep a spotless house through fear, but she's now a lot better and the house looks lived in rather than a show home smile

I'm also not sexist and saying it's the woman's job, I've been a stay at home partner before who did the housework and we've also agreed if she starts work then we would split the housework.

ThatStewie Sat 29-Oct-16 20:41:49

He's deeply traumatised and has very little control over anything in his life. His father is violent and there is a new man living in the house. The very last thing you should be doing is trying to control him or change him in anyway. You give him the choice over what he wants to eat. His mother should encourage him to help plan and cook meals so he feels trusted and supported.

You make ultimatums with a traumatised kid who doesn't feel safe and secure, you will make things worse.

MyWineTime Sat 29-Oct-16 20:44:20

Don't turn this into a problem, it really doesn't need to be.
It's not difficult to cook 2 different versions of the same meal - I have been doing it for years. Children who struggle with food make FAR more progress when they are not pressured.

strugglingstepdad Sat 29-Oct-16 20:48:32

Mywinetime it's not 2 versions of the same meal, it's completely different meals as he won't eat anything properly prepared. It's microwave burgers or chips on their own. Occasionally chicken burgers. But that's about as far as it goes with him.

I understand what people are saying, my main problem today was refusing to eat something that he'd happily eaten a couple of weeks ago sad

Yamadori Sat 29-Oct-16 20:48:50

It sounds like he is now a bit phobic around food and eating; and I agree with others about backing off for the time being. Try and make mealtimes as casual and fuss-free as possible as that will help.
I'm not sure that referral to a nutritionist is a good idea at the moment, as it will only draw further attention to the issue and stress him out even more.

Somerville Sat 29-Oct-16 20:54:30

He wouldn't eat something today that he ate a few weeks ago because its not about the food. It's about control over what he puts into his body.

Honest, his mum has it right; support her in giving him what he'll eat. Suggest she talks to GP. And most importantly of all, ignore your instinct to exert control by giving an ultimatum. It won't help him to enjoy mealtimes (he'll hate them even more) or to try new things (he won't) and certainly won't lift 'the burden' from your partner (just increase her burden, frankly, because she'll need to choose between backing you up or defending his right to autonomy).

Manumission Sat 29-Oct-16 20:56:45

Why is it a problem? It's two meals not six and his don't sound hard to cook.

Lots of us have to do it. We manage. In fact we're happy to do it for our DC.

You haven't said that your DP isnt happy to do it; You're just telling us about YOUR objections and your 'problem with it'.

strugglingstepdad Sat 29-Oct-16 21:03:47

Manumission yes that's what your reading as I am discussing MY problem with it and seeking advice for MYSELF. As I am a step parent I like to seek advice on things I don't know about or how to deal with. Sometimes I talk to my partner, sometimes I like to find things out for myself by asking others. My partner is aware of this and is more than happy as I'm not just going with my instinct and acting.

Thanks to this frame of mind I've had some VERY helpful replies from people which have helped when I've spoken to my partner about it. She's also read this thread and gained something from it herself about involving DSS in planning/cooking the evening meals.

Manumission Sat 29-Oct-16 21:05:58

Manumission yes that's what your reading as I am discussing MY problem with it and seeking advice for MYSELF. As I am a step parent I like to seek advice on things I don't know about or how to deal with.

Oh well that's easy; Butt out, keep quiet and let your DP keep up the excellent parenting she's doing.

strugglingstepdad Sat 29-Oct-16 21:12:44

Certainly, would you like me to move out and leave her to it as well instead of taking an interest in the kids lives???

neonrainbow Sat 29-Oct-16 21:13:19

Ok as a stepmum... youre not the boys father. My role as stepmum is to be a friendly positive presence for my stepson. I do plenty of things for him and with him and will discipline if dh is not around. Any big decisions and bulk of care is done by dh when he is with us. Ill ask him what he wants for dinner and make that. If he wants something different to what me and dh are having that's fine. I encourage him to eat healthily but at the end of the day his nutrition is up to dh and his ex.

You don't need to have a problem with what dss is eating. He's not your child, it doesn't sound like it's down to you to cook for him do really, this isn't a thing you need to concern yourself with. If the pressure needs to be taken off your dp then a 12 year old is old enough to get involved with preparing their own food.

Manumission Sat 29-Oct-16 21:16:14

Don't be so ridiculous.

I think it would be better if you didn't go looking for additional problems to solve where none exist. They've been through quite enough. But your DP is an experienced parent who knows her DC and so you should follow her lead and stop looking for things to solve.

Somerville Sat 29-Oct-16 21:18:23

Are you always this reactive to the slightest bit of criticism, strugglingstepdad? You really need to do a bit of soul searching about that. Being a step parent can be tough. Being a good step parent to children who have experienced trauma is really tough and involves a lot of patience and selflessness for a long time.

strugglingstepdad Sat 29-Oct-16 21:22:31

Somerville, criticism I can take very well. What I didn't like was that Manumission wasn't offering advice but picking fault with the fact I was asking for the advice.

As I said both me and my partner have come away with some really useful advice from my question which we both agree could be very helpful, and for that we are both thankful.

minion246 Sat 29-Oct-16 21:24:38

I think that you are being a wonderful, reasonable step parent just asking for advice. You should take what advice is given to you and ignore the rest that think they know it all. You said that you have spoken to your DP about this and that's great, so now you can both make plans together to help your step son develop.

19lottie82 Sat 29-Oct-16 23:32:06

OP lots of kids are like this. It isn't always due to being "traumatised".

My brother ate hardly anything apart from hula hoops and ikea meatballs until he was 13!

He will grow out of it. Let his mum deal with it and try not to let it stress you out.

minion246 Sun 30-Oct-16 11:51:05

Isn't parenting supposed to be team work even if you are a step parent?

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