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3timesacharm 12-19-2005 08:58 AM

Dealing with a parentified child
We need some help! Our soon to be adopted daughter is 7 and was in foster care for almost 3 years. She is extremely parentified and argumentative. She always has to have the last word and often has break downs and temper tantrums. We have tried everything; time outs, loss of prevlidges, ignoring behaviors, talking....ect..ect. We are now at a loss. Does anyone out there have any suggestions as to how we can deal with this child whom we love but on most days do not like very much? Thanks.....

dadfor2 12-19-2005 09:18 AM


have you read 'parenting with love and logic' yet.

that might be a good place to start.

alot of kids from the foster care system do have 'control issues' and they are not ready to give up that control because in their minds, they will DIE. its pretty black and they become oppositional in order to have control of their hectic lives.

who can blame them...

but then as parents, we have to have some control over our kids, and here is where the 'war' begins. We use to call our house the 'war zone'

we love but on most days do not like very much?
i hear you......our kids are great experts on pushing people away....and it sounds like your child is getting what she wants.....'to not like her'..

anyway, its a battle and its hard.....i know when i use to come home from work...i would walk in the house and yell..."ok, let the games begin!!!!" because it was so crazy....and we had to keep our sence of humor in order to survive...our kids never give up.....wonder if thats a good trait.. :rolleyes:

she will reject you, before you reject her...

Lorraine123 12-19-2005 09:53 AM


this child whom we love but on most days do not like very much

That sums up how many of us feel. I'm so glad to not be alone!!!!

You just have to keep at it. Keep letting her know that you are in charge, not her. When my daughter first came home, we had to go overboard with it. We did not let her control anything. We did not let her get food without asking us, we picked out her clothes, we served her plate at dinner, we decided what game to play, etc. We were obnoxious about it. But we had to show her that we could be in control and everything would still be ok. It resulted in many tantrums, rages and major control battles. This went on for about a year and a half. Then we slowly gave her control, like, giving her choices about what snack she wanted, laying out two outfits and letting her choose. We still have to do a lot that, but it has lessened. When her control issues resurface, we go back to the old ways. Now, when she demands control, we can say "who is the parent?" and she realizes what is happening.

lucyjoy 12-19-2005 01:33 PM

Have you looked at any attachment information? or

Often the defiance and need for control is less about behavior and more about fear. Kids who have had their trust severely violated at an early age feel they need to hold control in order to survive. They literally think they will die if they give up control. It does make them very hard to parent.(and often hard to share space with)

You might want to consult an attachment therapist for an evaluation and suggestions on the best ways to approach these issues.

Faith65 12-20-2005 04:32 AM

We did the same thing with our fd whom is 13 (control everything from cloths to food) and looking into a attachment therapist should also be at the top to try list! We are working with one right now and boy what a difference he is making.

Come here to the boards to vent and let out stress this is a great place not where she can see she's getting to you.

Dr. Art 12-20-2005 11:52 AM

I agree. Getting a good therapist to consult with and provide you guidance is the best thing to do here. You can find a listing of appropriately trained therapists on the list of registered clinicians at

You might also take a look at the following books:
Building the Bonds of Attachment by Daniel Hughes, Ph.D., Guilford Press, NY: 1999

Creating Capacity for Attachment, edited by Arthur Becker-Weidman, Ph.D., & Deborah Shell, MA. Wood 'N' Barnes, OK: 2005


Dr. Art 12-21-2005 06:19 AM

what to do
It can be difficult to do this work alone. Having the support and guidance of a good theapist is often essential to success.

Getting a good therapist to consult with and provide you guidance is the best thing to do here. You can find a listing of appropriately trained therapists on the list of registered clinicians at

You might also take a look at the following books:
Building the Bonds of Attachment by Daniel Hughes, Ph.D., Guilford Press, NY: 1999

Creating Capacity for Attachment, edited by Arthur Becker-Weidman, Ph.D., & Deborah Shell, MA. Wood 'N' Barnes, OK: 2005


LilyMoon 01-22-2006 02:55 PM

I suggest researching attachment parenting. I can give you many resources if you PM me since many of them contain advertisements and are not allowed to be posted on the forum.

From what you have said, I think you need to change your thinking in regards to parenting an unattached child. Time-outs and loss of priveleges don't work for this situation. You want to build trust and these punishments tear down the trust. Attachment experts recommned time-ins, where you keep your child next to you so they can gain control, no punishments, it's all about making choices and consequences. Regressing, parenting at the child's emotional, not chronological age, meeting all your child's needs yourself, teaching your child what it means to have a Mom who loves and cares for a child forever. It takes a lot of time and effort, but it works.


SnoFLKDrms 02-11-2006 04:41 PM

Everyone is giving very good advice. I agree with getting a therapist or finding community help programs.

As a Foster/Adoptive parent I can tell you LilyMoon is right on track. I had to keep my daughter close to me and let her see that I was more than capable of being a parent and making good choices for her and her siblings.

I also allowed her to show me how to prepare each childs food and she gave me great insight to the other children. However just getting her to be a child and let me be the Parent was a long and fantastic journey for both of us.

My daughter is now 21 and a loving mother of a 18 mo old son, with another child on the way. She has her own family but often recalls issues from the past and parenting her siblings. She is a very strong young woman and I am so very proud of her.

Keep working and loving your child. At some point in life you will see her blossom and learn to have fun. For now just know that having control and being in charge was part of her survival system.
As trust builds between you and your daughter she will find it easier to be a child and to allow you to be the Parent.

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Im your Blogger for OlderChildAdoption
Visit and comment any time.

Navy_RP_Wife 03-09-2006 03:52 AM

Am in your shoes, kinda
Oh, I just couldn't resist responding to this one! Our fd, M, is almost 7 and is a parent through and through! Though we are lucky in that she doesn't argue, have temper tantrums, etc. She is most emotional in that when she feels like she is losing control she cries at the drop of a hat. We knew when her and her brother came she was a parent and was she ever. Right away we sat them down and told them that we were the parents and that we promised to always take care of them and their needs and that we hoped, in time, they would learn we can be trusted. B gave in almost immediately, but then the way to win a 3 year old boy over is with food and toys: both of which he never had enough of. M was more watchful and we finally told her that her only job while with us was to be a little girl. I explained that it was my job to cook, clean the house, etc and it was Dh job to go to work and earn the money that brought the food, clothes and toys. That worked and gentle reminders from us really cut down on her playing mom. When we run into situations where she is scared that we are not going to meet her needs, we make bets with her. For example, we live in a duplex house and we were going to the neighbors carport to play cards but the kids were going to bed. We were still home just not in the house. If they opened the front door and said our name, we were 10 feet away and would have heard them. She was scared that we would be leaving and going out on the town and leaving them alone (something the bmom did all the time). So we put our car keys under her pillow (her request) and bet her that we would not being going anywhere and that we would be home when they got up in the morning, either still in bed or in the living room watching the news. We told her if she won the bet we would take her to the toy store and buy her anything she wanted but if we won, we each got 10 kisses on our cheek. M was very surprised when she got up in the morning that not only were our car keys still under her pillow but that we were home, just like we said. So we won the bet. We reminded her that we promised to always take care of her and that the things that happened to her before would not EVER happen to her here. Each time we run into a situation like this we remind M that we have always taken care of them and will continue to do so but that she needs to try to start trusting us just a little. In 5 months we have gotten to the point that most of the time she will trust her needs and her brothers will be met. This is a very smart child, sometimes too smart and she wants to be in a "normal" family and is starting to express concern about going home to mom. M has even asked how we get to be foster parents, just to make sure we are worthy parents. Time and love will heal most wounds, we got very lucky that B and M both wanted those wounds healed and were looking for someone to do it. I am sure that your daughter will do the same when she is ready and it is a feeling beyond description when you realize they trust you and love you enough to stop being a parent and just be a kid.

SnoFLKDrms 03-09-2006 05:18 AM

RE: Parential Child
How wonderful to hear from you !

You are doing a wonderful job with your two children.
Mine too were left alone by their bp. So they too had all the anxieties that your children had.

Mine are doing wonderful my little Mother is a Mommy now of two little boys. So we made it through. She is very independant and a very hard worker. As a mom she is a little over protective of the boys but that is normal and expected at this age with one a new born and the other a toddler. Her pediatricion warns her not to be to over protective. I just smile and think, "Cold day in the devils place." And giggle.

Good luck raising yours. You will find they tend to fall back into the cycle when ever they are stressed. That is when she will need you most.

Hugs, Shar

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