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Question
Posted by: Justme | 2005/01/05

Young Stepdaughter Concerns

My husbands child from a previous marriage has had numerous sicknesses over the past year or so. She lives with her mother who has a eating disorder and is extremely skinny. The child "lets call her Anne" is 8 years old. She behaves at times like a teenager and at times like a baby, whatever suits. Her mothers life is very volatile, she has recently broken off a 5 year live-in relationship to start another with a younger man. 4 years ago, Anne went for theraphy, at the creches insistance, due to displays of sexual behaviour. This is the 4th father figure Anne must live with. (all much younger than her mother). I think that Anne lacks parental attention. Her sicknesses have ranged from flu, coughing, sore stomach, vomiting and not being able to breath and she crys for her mother often. Her father dotes on her. She has a 12 year old neighbour that she is very close to. They slept over at our place last night and we took them out for a meal. Anne wants her friend to cut her meat, she lays on her lap in the car and they go to the toilet together even when at home. Almost like a surrogate. Something just feels wrong. I don't want to suggest treatment or that she moves in with us until her mother settles down without some confirmation that my concerns are founded.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Hi Justme,
Sounds like this child has been affected by whatever turmoil there has been with her mother, mom's eating disorder, the instability in mom's relationships, and similar issues. I'd be woried by the occurrence of such early sexual behaviour, which can indicate a more than usually disturbed child. It'd be worthwhile for her father to speak to whatever therapists she saw then, for advice on her condition and whatever further therapy may well be needed. She sounds like a most unhappy and understandably confused child.

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