Help!! 12 Yr Old Step Daughter Overweight and Gains 5-? Lbs When Goes to Mom's

Updated on March 04, 2008
T.T. asks from Galveston, TX
11 answers

I don't know what to do.. I have a 12 yr old step daughter who is 5'2 and 146 lbs I have her on a diet..she diets and exercises when she is home, she lives with us.. I have raised her since she was 2 but, everytime she goes to her mom's for the weekend she will gain 5-9 lbs... her mother feels her junk, and fast foods...her mother complains that we r the reason she is overweight and will not help us keep her on her diet.. Her dad of course blames her mother... which i could see, but she is 12 yrs old she knows... I feel that she is playing them against each other seeing they don't talk.. they yell at each other. I do not have anything to say to her at all haven't in years...(because, when we first got togather she was always wanting to talk to him.. without the baby... so until i put a stop to it quickly.. I was the babysitter so she could try and be with him and there r many other things she has done) I just don't know what to do... to try and keep her on a diet... the doctor says she may have a hormonal inbalance now and possible dieabetic... and this all stems from being over weight..

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So What Happened?

Well, we got a letter from tthe doctor and one was sent to her mother as well.... She does not have any health problems at this time... The only reason she is over weight and on the verge of becoming morbidly obese... Is what she is putting in her mouth... Now we will see what he mom says about what the doctor is saying... Which is the exact same thing i have been saying for months...imagine that.....

More Answers



answers from Austin on

At twelve years old, yes your stepdaughter knows, but that doesn't mean she is motivated or that she doesn't thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to get at the junk food. Although I am health-conscious most of the time, I know I enjoy that opportunity when I think I can get away with it. (Those times are coming less and less the older I get!) The fact is that you cannot do anything about what happens at her mom's house, and you really cannot do anything at all unless your stepdaughter wants your help in this area. She can get to food if she wants it. A cardinal rule of life is that we cannot change other people; we can only change ourselves and how we relate to them, and maybe that will help them feel that we are their ally in change. So maybe the first step is to give up trying to control the situation. Talk to your stepdaughter and tell her that you realize that her food choices are HER food choices and that you will respect her in that area. As her stepmom, though, you are still going to help her by not keeping tempting foods around the house all the time, but she will not be under your judgment or condemnation for choosing differently elsewhere. She needs to feel that someone is on her side! If she is beginning to have health problems because of her weight, it is obvious to her that her mom is not doing the best thing for her in this area, even if she takes advantage of it. Aside from being the meal and activities director of your own home, how would you treat a friend who was severely overweight? Would that person be your friend for long if you treated them how you treat your stepdaughter? I know that you do it because you love her, but sometimes our natural reactions are not the most helpful thing we can do. I personally feel that it is wrong to have a 12-yr-old (or anyone else, for that matter) "on a diet." What we need, rather than to be ON a diet (or off a diet) is to CHANGE our diet. If our normal diet is good, and we are in good habits, then occasional splurges will not sabotage our whole life because when the unusual situation is over we go back to our good habits. Maybe, after your stepdaughter feels you are on her side, you could ask her what ONE thing she would like to and feels that she could change about her eating habits. Help her and encourage her to do that without being negative about the failures until she has success. Or if she completely fails at that, suggest another, even tinier step that she could have success with. If she pushes you away entirely about the matter, tell her you are so sorry she has to go through this and that you'll back off until she is ready. Although she is only twelve, in this respect she is much like one of your adult children in the sense that you cannot make this decision for her and nagging her will only push her away. I'm sorry if this seemed harsh or judgmental of you. Like I said, I know you are trying to do what is best for her! Blessings on your efforts to have a healthy family.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

This is a tough situation. It sounds like to me that you are doing what you can as far as offering healthy foods and choices to your step daughter. Her over eating and making poor choices sounds like a deeper problem than just food. The contention between her two other parents is likely to be a source of stress for her.

My kids go Friday to Saturday withe their dad. I have him take them to dance camps and martial arts on Saturday mornings. It gives them something to do with their dad and gets them moving. Martial arts is good for self esteem also.

As far as a the hormonal balance, I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome when I was 19 but the signs of it were there at 11 and 12. It is the most common hormonal balance among women and can affect weight gain. It is a bad cycle of weight gain and glycemic-insulin imbalance. And can lead to diabetes. If she changes her eating habits now at home and exercises she can learn to control this at a young age.

In the meantime I would suggest counseling for her to deal with the stress that causes her to use food as something other than refueling her body.



answers from Corpus Christi on

It seems to me that the mother is using her daughter's weight sort of like a way to irritate you guys, in a way. For example, one day it was about 90 degrees here and my mother-in-law insisted that I put a COAT on my 18 month old son. This is something she does often. Therefore, when I take my son to her house, I dress him in shorts and a muscle shirt with sandles just because of what she said. In other words, since you and her ex-husband are the ones that took this girl to the doctor, ya'll are the ones trying to help her and take care of her, she is there trying to undo it. If you guys say that her shorts are too short, "mom" will cut them shorter. Get it? Possible that is is some form of a deep regret that she wasnt the one to start the diet process. I seriously doubt that, but I'm just trying to list the possibilities on why she would act that way. Also, it's very hard for a mother to be told that her child is overweight. Instead of throwing around terms like "diet" and "exercise", why not just do it in a fun way. If she wants a candy bar, dont say, "No, beacuse you are on a diet." say, "Hay, a snack sounds good, how aboout with pick up a smoothie on the way home." Something like that. And instead of saying, lets go to the gym and hop on a tredmill, just have her go outside and play. Get her a jumproap, hula-hoop, dance dance revolution videogame, or even those new shoes with the wheels. You'll be suprised how much calories she'll burn with that. Ooo! She may also have sports coming up in school. Have the whole family go play tennis, vollyball, basketball. You guys could have so much fun with this. Maybe her gaining weight is due to the stress the THREE of you are putting on her. Remember, also that a 12 year old girl is constantly being reminded that she is overweight. That could lead to self esteem issues. She could also be gaining muscle. I remember once upon a time when I started trying to loose weight, I was going to a gym and when I became a member, I was measured. At the end of the month, I gained more weight and my arms and legs were bigger. I didnt mean to run on and on about things, but I hope that at least one word that I said helped you in some way...T.



answers from Houston on

I don't think anyone was being judgemental. I agree that you need to be careful when puttin a child on a diet. Limiting their food choices, rather than teaching them how to make good food choices can actually cause food issues. She is probably over eating at her moms because she is not being allowed to eat those foods at home.

Even though she is young she is old enough for you to sit down and talk to her about her food choices, how she feels about herself and what she eats. Instead of telling her what she can and what she can't eat why not let her be the judge and just help her. You don't need to have junk in the house, but there are some healthier choices like 100 calorie snack packs, snackwell and weight watchers cookies and cakes. Also teaching portion control is HUGE!!

Growing up my mother limited our food choices but didn't TEACH us how to eat or cook healthy. So when I got out on my own I went crazy with junk food, not good! My metabolism and activity level slowed and I gained a lot of weight. I am currently using Weight Watcher and the thing that is great about it is I can eat whatever I want. The only catch is I have to stay within a certain nmber of "point" per day (all foods are assigned points.) What this does is forces me to make healthier choices and watch my portion control. And it is really working.

So what I would suggest is to sit down with your step daughter and talk about this issue. Let her decide what she wants to do about this, whether she wants to lose weight and excercise or not. The pros and cons of both. Set up some sort of eating plan where she gets 4-5 servings of fruit and veggies but can also have a treat for dessert.

Counseling is something you may also want to consider. A professional who deals with eating disorders could really help. (And yes overeating is an eating disorder!)

Good luck!



answers from Houston on

I would like to speak on your behalf for a moment. The fact that you posted this shows your concern for this young lady and I commend you for that.
As for the strife in your home (between the bio mom and dad) if i may, I would like to give you some advice that works wonders. "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." If you use this principle you will be amazed how your situation can turn around as far as that part goes.

Now back to the issue at hand, It is possible that she could be acting out when she gets to her mothers house and if her mom does not make her stick to the diet I really dont know what you can to to fix that. Your step daughter is old enough to know what she should do and even if you were to send her there with healthy snacks it does not sound like it is very likely that she will choose that over what her mom gives her.
I hope that you do find a solution because this can be as her doctor told you a serious matter. I am sorry I could not be of more help.



answers from Houston on

Hi T.,

I have not read others responses so please pardon any redundant ideas. I am the mom of two very diffrent kids. My son 18 now is rail thin, nothing I can do for that boy will make him gain weight. Then there is my daughter at the age of 12 she was quite chunky as well. Most teenage girls go through that phase my best advice to you Dear is this. to the best of your ability have her eat something small every 2 hours. Like half a sanwich, or and apple you get the idea. Then whatever you do please remember that her self image (body image) is being formed at this very time as well. What I always told my daughter was. You have the power hun. I think that just the word diet strikes something in the heart of an overweight person, makes them think they are bad or wrong. (not that you mean it like that of course) but it seems like a punishment. It sounds like her mom is deliberatly trying to sabatoge your efforts at her daughters expense. So if it were me I would do this.

When she wakes feed her breakfast a nice hearty one like oatmeal or eggs and bacon or something.
2 hours later give her some fruit or yougurt or whatever she likes as a snack.
2 hours later lunch
2 hours later snack again
then it should be dinner time and just fix her plate for her give her enough to get full. (if you make her think she is doing without she will feel she is :) )
2 hours later again snack.
of course no eating after 6 pm if you can help it.

Hours of digestion are best between 7 am and 5 pm :)

Now the problem I had with this wqas it was time consuming and actually my daughter was like mom i am not hungry! but I made her do her meals and snacks anyway. This makes the body metabolism spead up to hurry and burn off all of the extra meals, instead of going into starvaion mode which makes it store fat. You know the best health instructors will tell you, if you feel a hunger pain its too late and your metabolism is already going into starvation mode.

Now the other thing is this, please do not let her or anyone harp on the fact that she is overweight, I have found that for the most part kids who are overweight at 12 will blossom and have most of it fall off on its own when she goes past puberty, like 15 or so. So while it is hard to watch now, try to remind her it will happen in good time.

and most importantly, I think you are right she is playing both sides, getting you all to blame each other. So if I were you and your husband, when she came home and you start to blame her mom, remember she is 12 and fully capable of deciding for the most part what goes in her mouth. Im not saying her bio mom is right for allowing or offering bad choices, but truth is she must be given power over her own weight and choices, because as we all know, we cannot be there 24 hours a day or for the rest of her life to watch her. My daughter is not almost 16 and she did infact slim way up this way, and now knows how to control her "diet" herself. not to mention that about 5 sizes just fell away when she was 15.

I think you are doing a good job! Just focus on being healthy and calm yourself for yourself, the rest will all come out in the wash in time :)

Best regards,



answers from Corpus Christi on

How does anyone gain 5-9 pounds in a two day weekend? Is that even physically possible? Has the doctor checked her thyroid or looked to see if there is some other physical reason she is gaining so much weight. If there is no reason other than she overeats and just eats junk, send her to fat camp?



answers from San Antonio on

I believe the best thing you can do,, is LOVE this child,, the weight issue maybe partly to the fact that she is pulled between the two childish parents.. and if you make her feel like she is a STEP child, or a FAT child, her weight will not improve. Be active WITH her, eat the proper foods WITH her, and remember dieting is a frame of mind.. I AM a diabetic and I've found that eating SEVERAL Times aday instead of the 3 proper meals, has made a big difference in my weight. When she goes to her mothers pack her HEALTHY snacks to take along, such as Banannas, apples, grapes, dried fruit, raw veggies... and lots of them, so she can munch on that and won't want or need so much of the "fatty foods" that is given to her while there. But I'm sure the key is,, feeling excepted and LOVED.. I have 2 Step children and they have NEVER been called a step child.. they are MY CHILDREN.



answers from Houston on

Wow! Welcome to my world!! Well, I am kind of in the same situation. My stepdaughter is turning 12 and she lives with her mom in MN. When she was little she was so thin, I would say she was underweight. But about 4 years ago she started gaining so much weight that we became concerned. We let it be for a couple of years until we noticed that her weight was getting out of hand. In the summer she comes to stay with us for 6 weeks and everytime she comes she loses about 5 pounds, but then she gain it back and even more when she returns to her mom's. I tried to address the problem with her mom and then I was accused of mental abusing my stepdaughter for tring to address her weight problem. Her mother is in denial and says that my stepdaughter's body is preparing for a growth spurt which I believe only to a certain point. My stepdaughter uses plus sizes and her belly looks like a 5 month pregnant women. My stepdaughter spends a lot of time by herself and eat lots of unhealthy foods including large amounts of Ritz crackers and salami. She doesn't like to eat vegetables and her mom hardly cooks. Anyway, when she comes here she swims a lot, we go for bike rides and I cook a lot of healthy meals. I avoid junk foods and I limit sugary treats. At the end of her 6 week visitation she looks so pretty and healthy. I have taught her about the importance of exercising and the importance of eating healthy. I assume she is old enough to realize what is best for her. I decided not to worry about it anymore. It is out of my control. I'll just continue implementing healthy habits at home and the rest is on her. I understand your concern. It is hard to see a child going through overweight which could become an obesity problem. I stopped talking to my SD about her weight since I know it could be detrimental at her age. Just support her and someday hopefully soon she'll become more concious about her weight. Good luck!



answers from Houston on

My suggestion would be to inform your daughter about what her doctor is saying. Explain it in such a way that she, as a 12 year old will understand. She is old enough to know the difference between good and bad foods. We all cheat while dieting, but when it comes to your daughters health, that is where you, as someone who loves her, steps in. If we waited around for our kids to do the right thing, we'd be waiting forever! I think it is a shame that her mother is not taking her health seriously and using it against the dad. It's a good thing your daughter lives with you! I would suggest that you and hubby need to set up a meeting with the bio-mom. Bring in documents from the dr explaining the health risks, if she continues on this path. If she truly loves her daughter, she will get on board and help with changing your daughters eating habits. If she continues to place the blame on you and dad, then perhaps her visits to moms house have to be limited. I do think this can cause more issues, but I think it is worth it. If the bio-mom can't see what she is doing to her daughter, then changes need to be made. She is exposing her daughter to a hard life, one that will be filled with meds, dr's visits and, will you know what else. I also commend you very much for standing up for your daughter. Your hubby should be proud of you and I think it is great that he supports this issue with you!

Good luck!!!



answers from Austin on

First of all, it sounds like you're a wonderful caregiver and I know you are doing your best for your step daughter. :) She is very lucky to have you!

I would get her off of her diet (assuming it's a limiting calories diet?) and onto an all natural fresh diet if possible. (No additives, hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, artificial stuff and ADD lots of fresh fruits and veggies, egg, a few nuts, bakery-made bread (in moderation) and meats made without growth hormones). Try to use organic whenever possible.
When eating this way she will always be able to eat any amount she wants and never gain (she'll loose in fact). This way an occasional "cheating trip" to her Moms won't hurt that much. She'll just loose it again pretty fast back at your house. :)

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