New Here - 18 difficult child stealing

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by socalmama, Feb 19, 2013.

  1. socalmama

    socalmama New Member

    Hi all. I am very thankful for finding this forum, as just in reading a few posts it is somewhat comforting to know I am not alone, although I am sorry anyone else is going through any such issue with their adult children. Thank you in advance for taking the time to read my post and any thoughts or advice is GREATLY APPRECIATED.

    Here's a brief breakdown:

    Our 18 year old daughter moved out in the middle of the night on Jan. 4th and into her boyfriend's (of only 2 months) mom and stepdad's house. She claimed she couldn't stand living here anymore do to her relationship with her father and knew I would never tollerate or accept her moving into her boyfriend's parents home especially since she hasn't even graduated from high school yet.... hince sneaking away in the middle of the night.

    Prior to her leaving we had many problems with her over from about age 15 regarding stealing from us and unbelievable lieing and disrespect. She stole from everyone... mostly me, my husband, her sister and her grandmother (lives with us). I must of been in denial, but it wasn't until after she left and I went through her room that I realized how much she really stole from us. Everything from petty **** to sentimental priceless jewlery, the spare key to her grandmother's car which she apparently was sneaking out with and disgusting things like my lingerie.

    As for her grandmother's spare key, she had washed the car one day then left the key on the trunk of my car and my husband drove off with it. She as well as my husband and I scowerd the streets for them to no avail... or so we thought. My mother-in-law had to pay several hundred dollars to replace her smart key. A year later while cleaning out her room I found it taped behind a corkboard... damaged, but glued together and still works. So I assume she found it when we were looking, didn't care about the money my mother in law had to use to replace it and kept it to sneak away with the car (never caught her doing this). Dispicable.

    Long story short, my husband and her had really been going at it the last 6 months she was here. He was over her **** and lectured her regularly about her character, movitivation, values ect. Things she needed to hear although we never felt like she heard us and made an effort. Even we thought she was doing better occasionally, we would soon learn otherwise by being caught in a huge lie or caught with our stuff.

    Bottom line, she turned 18 and decided she didn't want rules or guidance and left. She's still in school, but already missed 10 days and is considered truant. She only has 1 real class (and 2 other non-needed electives) and only 4 months left so thankfully she's fairly motivated to finish. Her boyfriend of 3 months now, or her "fiance" as she refers to him with the fake ring she wears isn't a terrible kid as far as I know. However, he is 19, almost 20... no job, doesn't go to school, skates all day, smoke pot and drinks. If there is more, I don't know. The living situation is weird because he mom and stepdad allow all these mooching kids to live there. Not only my daugther and her son, but his friend and his girlfriend (in another room for over a year... also adults with no jobs, no school) and his sister and her boyfriend. I don't know if she fears the empty nest and therefore wants all these "non-kids" there to baby and provide for, but I don't understand how she can allow it.

    When my daughter came back for more of her stuff and faced us for the first time, it wasn't pretty. My husband basically told her with many explicts that she is on her own, don't ask us for a thing, she made her bed and he's so disappointed in the person she has become... and that he never wants to see her again. He then said to her, I only ask you one thing... please don't go to your boy's house and steal from his family....

    Well, that brings me to where we are now. She only has her boyfriend and one true girlfriend... her bestfriend. Her bestfriend texted my other daughter last night and said she doesn't know what to do because she now knows for a fact that my daughter has been stealing from her. She apparently found many of her things in her room at her boyfriends house and didn't say anything, then when she suspected that she may have stole money. She planted some as a test and my daughter did exactly as she thought... she stole it.

    She has not made an effort to find a job and doesn't have money and neither does her boyfriend. She has never had to want for anything and now that she is I am broken hearted that she did as I thought she would do and stoop to stealing. I know where this leads and for all I know she's participating in drug use with her boyfriend too. My husband refused to even talk about her as he believes I am wrong for even talking to her and participating in her life at all.... that she betrayed us and need to learn the hard lesson of not having your family to lean on. I on the only hand am just grateful that she even staying in contact with me, asks me for advice on birthcontrol and such and allows me to keep her in check with going to school. I'm afraid that if I just dropped off like my husband did that she would just get worse... and fast.

    I don't know what to do. How do I help her with her theft issues and lack of conscious? Do I do nothing and just let her learn via the "hard-knocks"? I just know in my heart that she's at a turning point where things could get a lot worse and feel like I still have a chance at helping her.

    Any thoughts or advice is soooooooooo appreciated. I'm off to wipe my tears. I am sorry for all the pain and suffering all of you are going through and hope that I too can chime in to help you when its needed as well.

    - socalmama
  2. lmf64

    lmf64 New Member

    I don't normally post here, but wanted to tell you that my heart goes out to you. Others, who post here typically, will be along with questions and hugs.
  3. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hi Socalmama, welcome to our special place, I'm glad you found us. I'm sorry you are involved in this drama with your daughter. It's a familiar story, right up to our kids finding other parents where they can stay. This is in fact a common occurrence. I believe our kids (or difficult child's as we refer to them, "gifts from God.") are very good at telling tales that make others feel sorry for them, they are usually very good at manipulating to get their needs met.

    My belief is you have to keep a strong boundary around her, stealing is not only unethical, immoral and untrustworthy, it is illegal. Without natural consequences, your daughter has no incentive to stop stealing. You must follow your own heart in these matters. What has worked for many of us is to make it clear what we will accept and what we won't and hold strong. There is no reason to throw her completely overboard, as long as she is respectful of you and treats you well. If she is disrespectful, aggressive, violent or in any way violates your sense of right and wrong, you must set boundaries around that.

    At 18 she is considered an adult. You cannot force her to do anything, you can't control her behavior nor can you change it. If she doesn't work, doesn't graduate, doesn't do anything but smoke pot all day, there isn't anything can do but speak to her about her choices if that feels right and is met with respect. Things may indeed get a lot worse, in spite of all your best care and support of her, she may be one of those kids who needs to learn via hard knocks. And, if that's the case, it will be appropriate for you to allow that without stepping in.

    You may want to read the article on detachment at the bottom of my post here. And, I'm happy you found us, you will find much support here. I hope you get lots of support around you set up as well, counseling if that feels right, parent groups, keep yourself well taken care of because this journey of detachment is very hard on us parents and we need all the help we can get. I wish you peace.
  4. nerfherder

    nerfherder Active Member


    First, forgive me if my words come out odd - I'm typing through a fever of 101+. Bah.

    My 17 year old (see Kiddo's profile bottom of page) has a real pilfering problem. We're waiting on the intake evaluation with our local Mental Health agency, I'm hoping for some kind of behavioral intervention to limit the pilfering.

    But my reality is that I doubt it will work. The ABCs of behavioral intervention - Antecedent (the things that happen to trigger the behavior), Behavior, Consequences - won't work with Kiddo. The Antecedent is the opportunity, the Behavior is the stealing, and the Consequences are meaningless because she got what she wanted, even if we or someone else takes it or something else of hers away, it's pointless, the behavior has happened.

    I don't want to be discouraging, but do NOT hate yourself or beat up on yourself if the behavior never changes (or changes for the worse.) Some kids (and adults) just never figure it out. There's a breakage in there somewhere, whether in an empathy circuit or delayed gratification circuit, or some other part of the psyche or soul.

    Sometimes they realize they have a problem, and then it's their choice how to heal themselves. My Kiddo is unlikely to ever have the capacity for self-reflection at that level, so we have to do things like glue her pockets shut, pat her down if she's been out of sight in a retail establishment or restaurant, and hope someday she gets into a ISLA group home where they can manage the behaviors. I'm just tired of it myself.

    And ABSOLUTELY read that link on Detachment. I've only been here a couple weeks, and it's done me a world of good.

    Can you manage a counselor or therapist for yourself? Sessions of marriage counseling also can help clear the air and provide input from a neutral third party.

    May your outcomes all be the best possible.
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I have to ask, is drug use involvement? With stealing, it usually is.

    I'm with the other moms. At 18 all we can do is refuse to pay for anything for them and, if they steal from us, call the police. Which actually may lead to help and some change. Have you ever done that?

    Since she is not getting along with stepdad, his words of wisdom will only make her angrier...I would have him back off. She knows right from wrong without him telling her what it is and she is choosing, for her own reasons, not to do it. Don't give her another reason to rebel as in "he's so mean to me."

    Has she always been difficult? Do you think she is using drugs, including smoking pot? Often we think they are just smoking pot when it is so much more.

    Gentle hugs and hoping you can indeed learn to detach. At her age she is "legally" an adult and you can't make her behave like one. As for boyfriend's mom, you can't control her either. Only person you can control is yourself. Get some therapy and start having fun with your husband...take the focus of your life off of your daughter for now. Easier said than done, I know.