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I have two step-kids. Boy age 11, girl age 10. They both have bladder issues where they still wet their beds almost every night. The boy is a fairly gregarious outgoing personality who doesn't really care. He makes friends that don't care if he pees the bed, in fact they sometimes do themselves. (clarification: He has friends who either do not care that he has to wear protective wear, or they have/had similar issues)

The girl, however, is horrified at friends finding out she wears diapers to bed, much less that she sometimes pees her bed even with diapers.

The boy goes to friends houses, has friends over, but the girl refuses because of this fear. I'm dealing with a distinct jealousy on the girls part at the fun the boy gets to have because friends invite him out to multiple events but the girl has literally never been to a friends house for the 3 years I've been a step father.

I know that I can't "make friends for her" but dear lord... I'm conflicted and my heart hurts for her.

My wife has a serious mental health issue and so I work two jobs in order to pay bills. Our social life (as a family) is fairly non-existent (excluding holidays) so the kids don't even really circulate except for home, and the when they hang out at their dads place of business (he works in the service industry and they get to hang out at his job and play and such, but only sometimes). We don't do church (atheists), we can't afford extra-curricular activities (soccer, karate, etc), and so I'm sitting here wondering...

Is it best to leave her be and hope she'll figure it out? Find a friend or become more independent? She is FIERCELY co-dependent on her brother, and as they have reached that age where they are now in separate bedrooms, and having separate lives, she is mortified and lonely while he is starting to come into his own.

I've thought about trying to find a support group for bladder problems (if such a thing exists) or something similar so she can meet kids dealing with the same issues... but I'm not even sure that is a thing.

How can / should I help her?

Notes:

  • Bedwetting Statistics : Only three percent of children with primary nocturnal enuresis have a physical or urological cause for it. Psychological problems as a cause of primary bedwetting are not common.
  • Hereditary : My step-children have multiple family members who stopped bed-wetting before 16 years of age.
  • Divorce : As I mentioned, they are my "step-children," and from what I've gathered from both genetic-parents the divorce was rather lengthy, volatile, and stressful for all involved. Everyone is friendly now, but there is a good chance the divorce contributed to their stress and possibly their enuresis problems.
  • Medical Professionals : Both their primary care professionals and family members who are also doctors have come to the conclusion that this is most likely a mixture of genetics and the messy divorce. Some medications have been tried but with no cure.
  • I'm not sure how the title relates to the rest of the question..? Can you please elaborate on that? – Erik Nov 30 '15 at 21:23
  • I strive to be realistic in my expectations of my children. Technically, the answer is for her to be responsible to deal with the situation and if a lack of friends is a result then that's on her. But I would like to be fair and provide her with equal opportunities to find and make friends. It doesn't FEEL fair that her brother is getting all of this fun... while she sits and cries sometimes when he describes his activities at friends. – randomblink Nov 30 '15 at 21:37
  • According to the website you sourced, it seems the plan of attack would be to do bed-wetting training so that your children no longer wet the bed. Are you looking solely for social solutions, or recommendations for such treatment so that it's not a problem that needs a lot of social work? – user11394 Dec 1 '15 at 22:21
  • Has bed-wetting always been a problem for these children? Or did they stop bed-wetting, and then (months or years later) start bed-wetting again? – Jasper Dec 2 '15 at 8:43
  • When I started dating their mother they were bed wetters. She was at the end of a 5-year divorce. The kids hadn't had a solid home from roughly 2 years after birth until their mother and I started dating. Then once we married, their parents and I had a big sit down and we worked out a lot of the chaos. Now their father and I are even friends (to one degree or another). They have been bed wetters continuously since then with only intermittent accomplishments here and there. – randomblink Dec 2 '15 at 21:56
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I really like this resource here for information about how to help your child with the bedwetting problem: http://www.webmd.com/parenting/ss/slideshow-bedwetting.

A more personal note on bedwetting - the last time that I wet my bed was when i was 16 years old. There were not physical problems, and I was not being lazy or stupid. I simply slept right through it; did not even wake up after i was wet. This was normal up until i was about 11, then started tapering off until that last time at 16. For people who have not struggled with this, you cannot imagine how terrible (embarrassing, disgusting, frustrating) it feels to wake up to a bed soaked in your own urine. It is a difficult thing. In my case, that last time might have been prompted by stress. I had been sent away from home to live with my sister in a different country, away from friends and family. Don't know. Just know that it seemed to just add to my stress.

Fast forward 20 years, and I am helping my kids deal with their bed wetting problems. They varied in ages where they outgrew it. One outgrew it when she was three, another when he was 15, the others somewhere in between. They have lived a life with lots of stress, as we have moved a lot, to different cultures and countries. But it was good for me to be able to encourage them that this was normal and that they would outgrow it; and they all did. It was good for me to just be able to empathize with them and offer comfort. In the end, I believe that did more than anything to help them get rid of the problem.

On the socialization problem, my hat is off to you for working so hard to care for your wife and kids, and for the empathy you display towards them. There are sometimes community centers that offer after-school programs for free. Contact your city's parks and recreation department, if it has one, to look for this sort of thing. I know that is not much of an answer, but it's all I can think of right now. I really wish I could help you more. I can sense the care and love you have for your children.

  • We are actually considering going to the local unitarian church (which has atheist services) just so the kids can have socialization. It's frustrating. As to the link you offered, yeah, we've had the kids checked out on multiple situations. There were a couple meds suggested and tried, but they didn't work. I have family members that are chiropractors and they did some targeted treatment for bladder with minor, but temporary, success. So far, the best treatment is what their father does... wakes them at midnight and has them use the restroom. – randomblink Nov 30 '15 at 22:01
  • On the link I suggested - i am surprised you mention meds. The slideshow at that link is all about encouraging your kids that this is normal and they will grow out of it and how to dialog with them and help them through it. Look at it again for those hints. Ignore the med advertisements that pop up. – user16557 Dec 1 '15 at 14:38
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    I have added a few lines about my personal struggle with bed-wetting. – user16557 Dec 1 '15 at 14:38
  • I mentioned meds because at one point the kids were begging to be checked out once they heard 'someone' in the family mention medications. Talking with the primary care there was something about an overactive bladder that was treatable with meds but it didn't work. The closest to workable treatment was targeted adjustments and vitamins from a chiro, but that stopped being effective very shortly after appearing to maybe be effective. ugh. – randomblink Dec 1 '15 at 14:41
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    randomblink, i have added a bit more about my own and my families personal struggles with this. I would encourage you, you have had the medical stuff checked out, so just encourage them that they will outgrow this. Feel free to share with them my struggle and that of my kids. Normally this goes away by age 6 or 7, but it is not that far out of normal experience for it to continue up to now, and even if it takes a bit longer, it's ok. The day will come when they will be able to look back on this and be glad it's over. – user16557 Dec 1 '15 at 14:51
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I would suggest exploring deeper to get to specific fears, and address those individually. For example, she may be afraid:

  • Her friends will smell her room.
  • Her friends will find her diapers, clean sheets, plastic sheets, etc.
  • Her brother will rat her out.
  • She will be invited to sleep over.

You can work together to find solutions to all those things, to help her feel more confident in making friends. Remember, she doesn't necessarily need a ton of friends, just one good one. Often, the best place to start isn't by trying to find a friend for yourself, but by looking around and trying to see who looks like they need a friend.

  • Her and I have talked directly about what she's afraid of. It's the smell and diapers. We clean the room as often as we can, but there is still that smell. I've even talked with her about her friends and why she can't trust them. I never had an issue with bed wetting, so for me this is all foreign. COMPLETELY foreign. But when I grew up I had a couple close friends who wouldn't have cared if I had grown a third arm or a horn, they would be there no matter what. She, however, has mentioned that her friends are quite judgemental. And on the outside, she looks (and acts) perfectly normal. So...? – randomblink Nov 30 '15 at 22:04

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