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Old 10-29-2005, 03:13 PM
Ta ra ra boom de ay
Join Date: Jun 2004
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Unhappy Another sad day... this time for me.

I found out last night that my 16 year old daughter has been stealing.
A pair of pants, a shirt, two pairs of earings and three purses over the last two months that I know of.
She was turned in to us by her older sister, who had known for some time now, after she took $15.00 from her purse to buy a concert ticket and then refused to own up to it. Before that she had taken about the same amount from her 8 year old brother which we discovered and dumbly assumed was an isolated incident.
What bothers me the most is the web of lies that has been woven in the interim to cover her trail. And her desire to keep the ill gotten goods when told to hand them over. I am afraid we have a lot of work to do to set her straight.
So far the plan involves an amount of volunteer work comensurate with the value of the stolen items at below minimum wage. The stolen items are going to be given to charity (not sure about this yet though) and grounding for an as yet indefinate period (not to be less than till the first of the year).
She has always been a little materialistic but I had no idea that it had become this sociopathic.
I feel like an idiot/bad dad for not being more on top of this eariler.
If anyone has any experience/ideas... I'm all ears.


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Old 10-29-2005, 03:30 PM
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First, it's a good thing that you caught a hold of this before she really got further into it, like becoming the CEO of a energy/telecom company or, a politician . . .

Second, I would suggest that you and your spouse get some trusted professional guidance in handling the situation. It seems that you'd be open to that type of specific advise. Your daughter may need it in the future, but usually it's the parents that need it first to help them help their child.
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Old 10-29-2005, 03:47 PM
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My heart goes out to you. You and the wife need to do what is called tough love. You have to be hard on her and make her realize you are not going to tolerate the lying/stealing.

My oldest son (16) started his years worth of live in re-hab this past Wednesday. He had been to court 5 times within about a year and a half, spent two months in YDC and after that the state took custody of him. His problem was cocaine/pot but the lying started about a year before the drugs. I'm hoping getting him away from the wife and in the rehab will turn him around. She still thinks he is awesome and is her precious baby. I told her until she is as hard on him as I am and learns to tell him NO then he will probably not change.

Oh yea, there was stealing going on around the house to obtain $ to purchase cocaine with.

Last edited by engatwork; 10-29-2005 at 07:37 PM.
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Old 10-29-2005, 04:07 PM
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I have a brother who acted like that as a teen. Unfortunately for him, my parents behaved as Engatwork describes his wife. They excused stuff when it was little so that when things finally got big, it was way more than they could handle. It took him nearly 10 years of hazardous living to finally get his head on straight. I don't know what advice to give. You are obviously not in denial and you love the kid. Those are two things you have going for you and for her.
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Old 10-29-2005, 06:24 PM
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A cousin of mine in Kalifornia sent his son up to me to be "boiled out". The kid was addicted to crack cocaine. Me being a harda$$, I put him out in the field picking and digging rocks by hand. The changes in the kid were something else to see. The first few days he was hawking out huge crack boogers that would choke a horse. He would get tired very quickly and want to sleep. Everytime I caught him sleeping he would get my packer boot in his rear. After the crack started to leave his body he started to gain some weight and finally regained his old physique back. His attitude changed to the point where he gained work ethics and later on I taught the kid how to weld. He turned into an eager learner. After 5 weeks of me being a total ba$tard I sent a young man back to my cousin. That was 15 years ago. The kid didn't go to college but he is holding down a steady job and is a bennefit to society. No I don't want any more problem teenagers. This one was enough. Just posting this to let everyone know that there is hope for these kids.
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Old 10-29-2005, 07:16 PM
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I have no experience here, since I'm not a parent, but I do remember reading about the Scared Straight program. From what I understand, it's done wonders for many young people. Good luck.

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Old 10-30-2005, 01:38 AM
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A relative of mine had a severe problem with stealing and lieing. She would take money and jewelry, then make up outlandish stories to cover her tracks. After a while, the whole family would get on her case whenever there was an episode, and eventually she straightened out. But it took years, and some people still don't trust her. My feeling is she was trying to get attention, but I'm no shrink.

But there is no doubt you have to be proactive. Be tough on her, but at the same time remember she still needs the opportunity to grow up and live for herself. Parenting can be such a challenge at times, but you will prevail. I always told my kids if they ever break any adult laws, I will personally turn them in. So far, so good. Your mileage may vary.
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Old 10-30-2005, 09:09 AM
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Most of us probably have more to give our kids than our parents were able to give us at the same age.

The tendency is to make their lives easier than ours growing up. I know that my son(s) have it easier without me giving them any extras than I did.

Not dirt poor, but a lot of struggles, no heat in winter, lights always gettting cut off for lack of payment, never having money to buy tires for cars, family handouts, etc...

I have tried to impress upon my kids how hard it was for me and my sisters and how easy they have it but it's hard to convey when they have cell phones, video games, no sense of loss, etc......

If I had it all to do over again, I would have been more strict, and tied everything into work. You want a game, work in the yard. You want an allowance, do your chores, no exceptions.

The no exceptions part is the most important part. Once you give in, they want more.

For example:

I'll tell my kids to clean the yard as part of their duties and watch them while they do it. They do it half-assed leaving crap all over the place knowing that I'll get pissed and tell them to get the fock out of the house and do it myself. The now I don't have patience so they turn that against me. I have learned and now just tell them to clean up and if it isn't done right, I'll empty the trash can out and they start over.

It's never easy and I'm sure we all do it different, but spoiling them and then expecting them to not be focked up is not the right way for sure.

They can't just receive, receive and receive without first giving.

I also used to give them 50 bucks and let them pay it off by working afterwards. Bad move, they half assed everything. Now they work before I give them anything.

Two things have happened. One is that they ask for less because they realize they have to work. The other is that they pay more attention to doing things right so they get whatever they wanted.

This is one of my favorite topics and I know that engatwork and I can give you examples up the wazoo if you need

In the end, most of it comes down to us and not doing our jobs right. I know of Jim's struggles with his wife spoilng his son and those are always things to look at as well.

Best of luck!
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Old 10-30-2005, 10:16 AM
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The above have hit most of the highlights . . . having worked with "at risk" children, most being habitual liars and thieves, I understand some of what you are up against. The biggest problem has also been identified and that is having the disciplinarians on the same page at the same time. Most of the children I worked with were from single parent homes though that usually created the same problem. The parents were too quickly forgiving when the slightest concession was made by the children. They wanted to reward them far too early. To break a pattern rather than to reinforce a new one, takes time, patience and consistency. Rules must be established with the youth's input though they must be made to understand that every facet of the plan is by your approval. Children constantly seek attention and it can be negative as well as positive. They hate to admit it but they WANT ground rules. These are usually nothing more than common sense because society has already determined what they should be and how we should act. As children age it becomes more important for them to gain acceptance from their peers. Additionally, their teachers become an increasingly important part of their lives. I believe those suggesting you seek professional help in dealing with the situation is best. It provides you with an objective source for any plan. Often it is easier to have a non-partial entity giving the ideas so both parents have to follow the same rules. I have written volumes on the individual cases I have been directly involved with. Two steps forward and one step back is possible, realistic with a well devised plan, and will reward all involved. The hardest youth I worked with started at a level (13 years old when I began) where he was not allowed on public school property. He is now scheduled to graduate at the end of this school year. I probably worked more to get his single mother to follow the rules than with him. Best of luck and patience.
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Old 10-30-2005, 10:42 AM
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sorry to hear about this. I've worked with at-risk, probation-sentenced, and incarcerated kids before, and can concur with the above sentiments regarding kids' need for consistency of example. I had a kid on probation who would call me and invite me to keg parties while he was underage, just because he knew that I was the only person who would explain to him why he should not go.
Firstly, you can be glad that you intercepted her problematic behavior at the point that you did. Stealing often leads elsewhere as the invicibility feelings of teen-dom (dumb?) grow. It's also been small stuff, so that's good as well. However, you've got to make it clear that what she's done is unacceptable.
Whatever you do, square it with your spouse and you must both follow through 100%. Her concequences for future transgressions should be clear and be presented as choices that she has. Ex: If you steal again, you're choosing to (x punishment). Most kids view concequences as things that adults put on them when something goes wrong. This approach will show her the power of her own actions, and that they have consequences. Chances are, it will take some time for her to own the consequences of her actions, but it's a good life lesson to internalize, and well worth your time to properly convey. You also have every right to frame her behavior in reference to your trust in her. It has been compromised, and as such she loses certain privledges that attend trusted individuals.
I would suggest against using volunteerism as a punishment. Service to others should not be something forced or dreaded. Rather, it would be nice to cultivate an ethic of service for life. Maybe during her grounding, you and she can become involved in a volunteer project together. Make sure it is one in which she can easily see her direct benefit to others, and the difference that she individually can make. That makes it easy to talk about how big of a difference she can make for the worse (stealing) as well. But, don't push it. Sometimes it takes a long time to grasp these lessons. In any case, I would include the whole family in the activities, and keep it up long after her punishment is over. Don't make it a tit-for-tat for her monetary transgression... stealing has the potential to do much more harm than the $$ amount, but conversely, service can do much more for the good than one might realize as well.
Good luck- in all the kids I worked with, the ones who did the best were those with strong families.
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Old 10-30-2005, 10:58 AM
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Welcome to todays times materialism is the new drug. Teenagers sit and watch the Home Shopping network and shopping websites for entertainment.

Does she have a job?
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Old 10-30-2005, 05:46 PM
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I'm sort of battling similar issues with my 12 year old stepson. In the last few months we've caught him playing with matches in his room, he has begun frequently lying about homework/grades/etc..., he's doing poorly in school and the icing on the cake; this last week he beat up a couple of sixth graders. One for trying to sit next to him on the bus and the other for not letting him have some of the kid's nachos. Needless to say there's something going on here with anger issues. I'm just not sure what.

He's grounded and pretty much on room arrest. I just don't know for sure how to convey to him the wrongness of his actions so that he "get's it". He expressed some interest in speaking with the school counselor, which we will try and possibly more professional help. Primarily though, we've got to deal with this issue.

Evidently we came off lucky this time. One of the boys he beat up he had in a headlock around the boys neck. Found out that the boy has a shunt from his brain to his stomach. The outcome could have been much worse. Wife and I are both very embarrassed by his actions yet don't know how to make it up to the other parents, if that's possible, other than apologising. I know that were I in their shoes I would not be happy. I would hope my stepson sees this too, but I don't know how to communicate it to him

Many of the previous suggestions were helpful, but more suggestions would also be helpful...
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Old 10-30-2005, 06:46 PM
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I think Kevin (Jugurba) made the one point I never thought I would have missed writing. As he said, you need to make them understand that their actions make their decision on punishment or no punishment, and if there is a need for punishment they have made that choice, not the parent. I used that premise more than any other. Basically I laid-out the ground rules and let them know if they followed them, we would have lots of normal days. Normal meant more praise and acknowledgment for the little things they did. It is so easy for us to overlook the many small (to us) things they do right since we are so busy. Let them do something wrong and they get our immediate attention. That is the wrong way. I guess the parents of the children I worked with had the benefit of someone being paid to watch nearly every minute of their child's behavior and acknowledge what they did. When something special was done, meaning them doing something for someone else, I would often wait until later and ask them how that made them feel. That approach let them know their positive action did not go unnoticed and it also psychologically provided the opportunity for them to think about how they felt. Getting that mental process connected between positive actions and being able to feel good about it is important. Manners by example also works wonders. Without drawing attention to it, putting them in places where there are young and old can provide subtle practice of acceptable social behaviors.

I spent a great deal of my time not as an authoritarian but as someone alert to what they were doing and to what their environment might be leading to. Diversion at the proper time. Teaching them to observe others and how they act plus going one step more and asking them how they think the others around would feel. Slow process and one that required me to write extensive journal entries to gauge, over periods of time, what was working and what wasn't.
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Old 10-30-2005, 07:09 PM
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I would try the tough love route, and keep it in the family.
This stuff is starting to get my blood boiling especially when I try to convey to the wife what needs to be done. I mentioned to her the "tough" love routine and she said that she needs to show him unconditional love. Where in hell did that come from. I told her that is what she is supposed to have for me - LOL. She could give a crap whether I am dead or alive as far as I can tell. Anyway she has a stack of cards on the table and I asked her about it and she said she was going to mail a letter to Ross EVERY day. I read the first one that went out yesteday and in it she mentioned how he was AWSOME - BS - anybody that that steals from his younger brother to purchase coke, gets sent to YDC for 2 months for drugs and ends up in rehab for a year for doing coke/pot is NOT awsome in my book. THEY ARE LOSERS. Then she mentioned something about the bible verse where the father slaughters the fattened pig when his oldest son returns after blowing the riches that were given him. I reminded her about a couple of the bible versus that mention raising kids to respect their elders and said that I'm sure there are others in there that provide direction on raising kids. Isn't there one in there about spare the rod, spoil the child. This crap came from the same person that told me the reason I was sick a couple months ago was because God was punishing me for being mean to the kids (making them mind).

I asked her what it would take to get her in to see a counselor or therapist and she said that she believed in raising kids by making sure they have a happy childhood and that she felt she needed to show him unconditional love and that she did not need any help. What a crock. The kid will eventually wind up in prison and more than likely will die at a very early age. I can't tell you how many times I have seen this type situation.

Sorry to get off on a tangent but I am pissed right now.
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Old 10-30-2005, 07:18 PM
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Don't be too harsh....

Originally Posted by narwhal
I am not there, but petty theft and crack cocaine addiction need to be treated differently. If it is a material kick, I would say that is fairly normal for a 16 year old girl. If the rest of her life is in good shape, I personally wouldn't draw a professional therapist into it yet. Of course, you'll find out that she has all sorts of other problems if you do. If it were me, I would try the tough love route, and keep it in the family. If it doesn't take then get some help.

Some of the most ****ed up kids I know were the product of professional help when there kids really just needed there parents attention.

Good luck.
I know this'll sound like the worng advice but haven't we all in our youth taken something that we know deep down we shouldn't??? I wouldn't be too harsh, name and shame is maybe the first action and then try to forget about. Making an issue of it will make her feel lost and an outcast. If I'm honest I used to be a a right w@nker as a child (early teens). Parents were always broke and so would pocket something here, something there... Nothing big, pens/rulers stuff like that at school, cousins games/mags etc... but grew out of it completely. Decent morals and values are what need to be instilled. Talk to the child. My mother always did. Now, I wouldnt dare touch someone elses property and have absolute respect for others. I wouldnt even dream of keeping something I found in the street - I would always hand it in...I guess probably as I know the value of money now... Perhaps that could be a good way of letter her have stuff... make her get a proper job, one where she would have to work to earn her money, to spend as she liked. The main thing is to be strict but supportive. My dad used to whoop my ass all the time. (typical asian thing) and still would (if he could). but its not the physical pain that stings - its the words you say....

Parenthood is a nightmare with many unforseen pitfalls... good luck though, I'm sure you love it and them anyway....

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