Pediatrics/7 Year Old Behavioral Issues
I am a 36 year old mom with 3 children and I have been going through a bitter divorce for well over a year now. He was in the military and usually always gone for very long periods of time so my 3 children from that marriage, a 9 year old daughter, 7 year old daughter and 2 year old son were very much used to the "single mom" life. I began dating someone soon after I separated, almost a year ago, someone I've known since my childhood, and we moved in together 6 months ago. We are expecting a child together in the Spring. My children adore my boyfriend and love their new house and new school and are very excited about their new brother or sister to come. I was a stay at home mom until a few weeks ago when I decided to take a part time job that allows me to work only when the girls are in school. My soon to be ex-husband is very much in and out of the kids lives; he is an alcoholic and he is on restricted parenting time for having sex with the 12th random woman he's paraded in front of my children in the last year. That woman is now court ordered to stay away from my children. He recently became upset during a visitation drop off and the kids witnessed him shove me down concrete steps. They have also seen him hold a gun to my head, along with an array of bad behavior. He was extremely violent to me the entire 13 year marriage, much of it they witnessed. My 9 year old is to the point where she no longer has any interest in a relationship with her father, and my son is too young to even remember who he is. It's been my 7 year old that has remained allegient to her father, no matter what he does, and I support her decision to maintain a relationship with him no matter what he does to me, as it is her only father. Last weekend, they had visitation and they came home extremely upset because he apparently told them that this woman that is barred from contact will be attending Trick or Treat with them and they no longer want to spend Halloween there. I assured them that I would talk to their father and take care of it. However, I do know that he plans on moving in with this woman and we have a psych evaluation set up for the kids in a couple of weeks since they would be spending visitation with her and him. Since all of this has occurred, my 7 year old daughter has become extremely defiant verbally towards me and my boyfriend. She even smacked my boyfriend yesterday when he simply asked her to get up from her little brother's toy car because she exceeded the weight limit. She refuses to do chores or eat dinner and will get up and go outside and play with her friends. She then, after her evening shower, threw her towel down on the bathroom floor and urinated on it. I have previously found clothing on her closet floor soaked in urine and wondered what happened but didn't ask about it until I realized what she did last night (we have a very elderly dog and I assumed he had an accident). She is doing very well in school, she is exceptionally bright, a gifted little athlete, so I am just not sure what is going on with her behavior lately. I asked her why she did what she did to the towel and at first she lied to me and then I told her not to lie to her mother she admitted it and said she had to go really badly (although she was standing in the bathroom in front of the toilet when she did it). I am really worried about her. She seemed like the one that was coping with everything the best, however, her behavior tells otherwise. Please suggest something to try. Thanks in advance.
Clearly she and you all have been through a lot over the years. Please discuss with your pediatrician getting her in to see a good counselor and get these issues reined in before they consume the whole family. I have no special "tricks" to help you...she and probably everyone needs to see a counselor to work through this stuff.
Good luck, Dr. Olson