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poppin8
poppin8 asks:
Q:

What does abnormal preteen girl behavior look like? What are red flags in terms of sexual and social development for a 10 yr old only child?

If a 10 year old girl who has breasts displays touching and gazes into her father's eyes while caressing his face or prefers adults to groups of peers or freaks when not the center of the attention  how do you handle it? How do you handle it when it feels she is copying you (the step-mom) in terms of behavior, mannerisms, looks? My 10 year old step daughter is manipulating & passive aggressive. She also will not leave her Dad alone in social situations and is constantly trying to gain his favor. Why? How do I tell him I feel uncomfortable and I don't feel it is socially acceptable for her to caress him or have him spoon her anymore in a cuddling way that resembles the way he spoons me? Am I freaking out for no reason? She has bigger breasts than me and it is disgusting to me when they greet with kisses on the lips or when she plays with his hair and gazes into his eyes and would rather hang out with him and the adults instead of her peers. THen she goes into panic attacks and can't function and is whiney and a constant shadow. She starts middle school in September! Should I be worried? Her real mom treats her like a playmate and thinks it is cute that her daughter "stinks." She is with us every other week. She is dirty and stinky on the weeks she is not with us. I have a 7 year old daughter and do not want her being influenced. What do I do? How do I tell them this is not normal behavior! PLEASE GIVE ME SOME ANSWERS AND PROOF!!!
In Topics: Recommended Books, Communicating with my child (The tough talks)
> 60 days ago

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Expert

lkauffman
Feb 19, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

Dear Poppin8,

As you have already observed, this is a complex situation. As far as I am concerned, there is no easy to answer and the reality of what is "right" will vary by family. That said, I do have some thoughts on the father-daughter relationship. Within recent years, there has been an evolution of the current states of father-daughter relationships. There is greater awareness of the important role that fathers play in a girl's social and emotional developments. Many experts write about the importance of the father-daughter relationship for setting the tone for a daughter's sense of worth and value. This is true for all relationships, but the father-daughter relationship sets the foundation for future romantic relationships. That is, the girl who is the "apple of her daddy's eye", understands that she is loveable and will expect love and respect in future relationships.

In addition, as women make further progress in society, attending graduate school, playing sports, etc., fathers now have a more ways of interacting with their daughters. They can offer support and guidance around money matters, exercise, and more.

Overall, fathers are remaining much more involved in their daughter's lives throughout childhood and adolescence and this is considered positive. Traditionally, early adolescents (about age 9-12) begin to transition from focusing their interests and attention upon parents and family to a greater preoccupation with peers (see last link provided below). Thus, it is not that unusual for your daughter to continue to appreciate physical closeness and contact with her father at age 10. As you can imagine, in some families, daughters are never physically close with their fathers, and in other families, this continues throughout adulthood.

That said, you are uncomfortable and it sounds like you are trying to understand your role and position in the family and with your husband. Your feelings and views should be honored and respected, and I think that you should follow your instinct and discuss these issues with your husband. I have provided a few links on blended families. I think that you will need additional information and advice as you and your husband negotiate the blended family dynamic. What is most important is that you and your husband do your best to reach agreement and alignment on parenting issues and remain consistent. It is most ideal that your husband's ex-wife also parent from the same parenting principles. Perhaps, you can use some of the information you find on pubertal development and growth to encourage your husband's ex-wife to teach good hygiene to your step-daughter.

Clearly, there are many important issues here. I hope that other members of the community will also have good advice for you.

L. Compian, Ph.D.
Counseling Psychologist
Education.com Expert Panel
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Additional Answers (8)

Labello
Labello writes:
I disagree with the previous persons answer. It is inappropriate for that 10 year old to be displaying that behavior towards her father.  There is a difference between father - daughter bonds and inappropriate physical contact.  I am going through the same type of thing. My 8th grade step-daughter is exactly the same as your 10 year old only worse.  She leaves her menstrual pads and wipes and puts the bloody toilet paper where her dad and 10 year old brother see it.  It's obvious she stages it in the wastebasket.  She will undress in front of her father and brother and she always wants to sleep with daddy when I'm not there.  Well, daddy sleeps in his underwear so um NO.  I've come home and she's dressed head to toe in my clothes.  She does other things that are just disgusting.  I moved out because of this kid.
> 60 days ago

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Stopcryingworld
Stopcryingw... writes:
Sounds to me like your making a mountain out of a mole hill. I doubt what is going on is at all inappropriate For example as jealous as you are you would have called the police. Sounds to me like you just need to relax and try to act more mature. Remember your a adult she is a child and that is his daughter it is important for young females to have a positive male figure very important.So try to just have fun with your new family and stop being so jealous after all she is only a 10yo girl. She will stop being so needy once she gets a little older and used to the new situation ,and you will feel better once you get more used to your new life too. I hope this helps be good and god bless.
> 60 days ago

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necold
necold writes:
I go through something similar but i have raised my step daughter.
I am very uncomfortable around my daughter and husband ,she is 12 yrs old. He wont show me any affection while she is around. when he spend time with me . he will try to make it up to her , but we have 3 girls together.
> 60 days ago

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alohasiempre
alohasiempre writes:
you are right... you are not being the evil step mother. You said proof... kk here it is.. a guy I knew was divorced and tried hard to spoile the girls when he hd them, the younger one when she was 11 wanted to live with him. the mom agreed and she moved in. she was similar, very touchy feely and loved to sleep with daddy... just after she turned 12  ~and was 'developing' ~  dad woke up to find him self in the throws of making out with his 12 year old daughter and she was NOT asleep as he had just been.  He freaked and disgusted with him self sent her back with her mom and pulled away from her .. they never talked about it but the girl now quite grown displays issues of being emotionally needy and has been through several bad relationships and addictions to drugs. she has 4 children all wards of the state because she can't stay clean long enough o get them back. I believe she is suffering from the sudden loss of emotional support from her father but then if they had made sure the lines where not so fuzzy she would be a better and more well adjusted adult in my opinion...  tell her dad that he needs to set the rules and limits... she is to wash her self daily and use deodorant... it is not cute if she stinks and probly why she rather be around dad.. kids her age things she smells too.
Adults have there own bed and it is not for children.. once in a while turning it into a 'family bed' is one thing but allowing him to 'spoon' his adolecent daughter is too much .. good luck... hope it goes well...
> 60 days ago

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metalmommd
metalmommd writes:
You should consult with your pediatrician as far as what is normal or abnormal behavior.  Remember just because she is fully developed physically does not mean her emotional and intellectual development
match this.  Middle school girls still look up to their fathers and he is the center of her universe.  However 10 years old is probably a good age to start setting boundaries as far as what is appropriate and inapprorpiate physical contact.  Cultural differences need to be taken into consideraton.  Remember behavior is learned.  If she is touching her breasts or doing other  inappropriate behavior where did she learn it.  The inappropriate kissing and spooning did she learn this from your interacton with her father.  Kids learn by example.  Did she learn this at her mothers house?  Did someone touch her inappropriately? This is a ten year old young lady you are an adult.  Instead of being worried about how this makes you feel you should be concerned for the well being of this child.  

As far as hygeine goes if you have been in her life more than 3 years than you do have he right to give her some parenting advice.  There is nothing wrong with educating her on good hygeine.  Buy her a little overnight bag and put toothpaste, toothbrush, soap (get something special like bath body works shower gel if she is not allergic)
buy her some antiperspirant and a lufa sponge so she can exfoliate dead skin, shampoo and conditioner.  Then get a book like "American Girls: The care and keeping of you".  Ask your husband if you can take her out prepare a little gift bag with the book and overnight bag.  Take her to lunch or prepare a little picnic and take to the park and spend quality time together.  Then you can read sections of the book with her and talk about the subjest.  Explain to her that she is not a little girl anymore but a preteen.    Explain in order  to fit into society and to be respected by her peers she needs to be clean.  The reality is if a child has body odor other kids will exclude them.  Not out of meaness, but it is uncomfortable to spend a lot of time with someone who has an unpleasant odor.
> 60 days ago

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victorygrl5
victorygrl5 writes:
There is affection between a father and daughter and there is affection between you and your husband. They are different and, although you step daughter may not understand that, your husband should and it is HIS job to define (and set boundaries for) what is appropriate with your step daughter.  Healthy affection between a father and daughter shouldn't resemble affection between adults in a loving relationship.  I wish there was more accessible info on this.

If your gut tells you it's wrong, it makes you uncomfortable,and probably negatively effects your feelings of attraction for him, that's all of the "ANSWERS AND PROOF" your husband should need.  If that's not enough for him I hope you can get to a counselor.  A reputable third party may be helpful... a male counselor may be preferable.

You're not alone.  Don't ever ignore what your gut is telling you, you're smarter than you know.
> 60 days ago

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confused512
confused512 writes:
I don't have an answer for you but I am dealing with the exact situation with my boyfriend's daughter. Sad to say but it has caused conflict between my boyfriend and me. I have seen seven of my nieces grow up to little young ladies and have never experienced any of this behavior from them or towards their father. It is a bizarre behavior and uncomfortable to watch. My boyfriend tends to think the behavior is because his daughter is slow in mental development but I work in the medical field and just don't see it. I think he's still in denial of the whole issue. If you find any answers would you mind contacting me?
> 60 days ago

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MostlyClueless
MostlyCluel... writes:
I think these girls are threatened by the relationship between stepmom & dad/boyfriend.  Maybe its subconscious, maybe not, but if you think about it, they're mimicking an adult romantic/sexual relationship. They're seeking whatever closeness or "specialness" exists between those adult partners.

The moms/stepmoms are right to be concerned. It's inappropriate.
I am the mom of a kid whose friend acts like this & I can assure you I do everything possible to keep my kid away. Others do too.
So in our case, this other child is being hurt by her behavior outside of the family too - social exclusion from kids her age. I would guess this isolation is going to drive her right back into daddy's arms. It's a cycle that will just get worse.

I'm not sure what the solution would be, but maybe something along the lines of the dad/biological parent assuring the daughter her place AS HIS CHILD is completely safe & loving even with a new partner in the picture AND establishing very firm, clear boundaries regarding appropriate affectionate behavior.  
Good luck & kudos to stepmom for speaking up.
20 days ago

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