Adult Child Who Steals...

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by ShawnFP, Feb 17, 2014.

  1. ShawnFP

    ShawnFP New Member

    I stumbled upon this site and was quickly drawn in as I have searched and searched for help on how to handle my daughters problem with stealing. I and my ex-husband are at our wits end and do not know what to do.
    I first noticed my daughters problem when she was in high school and I discovered that she had taken my debit card and used it to withdraw cash. I confronted her and got a heartfelt apology but never an explanation why...Ten or more years have passed since that time. She has been arrested 3x for stealing and incarcerated twice. This last time she received a felony strike. Each and every time the apologies are issued and we attempt to start over. This time I told her that unless she went through extensive therapy she could never live with me again. When she was released, her dad took her in. Since she has been there she has stolen numerous times from him. He will not call the police because she never seems to learn her lesson in jail. We finally called her bluff this last week and told her it was either enroll herself in rehab (although she has been tested numerous times for drug use and is always clean) or she would have no place to live and no car to drive. She went but unwillingly...she hates it there because " she has nothing in common" with the drug addicts. We tell of course you do, stealing is her drug. She now claims she steals to get back at her father for not giving her the attention she needs and me because when her brother died I did not allow her to grieve.
    I could go on and on but I guess what I'm looking for is some direction on a type if counseling or a program that might deal with this kind of issue. She is covered under insurance for 10 more months. I am so afraid she will become homeless. She has burned bridges with family and friends and really has no one to turn to, yet the thought of living with her again fills me with such dread. Help
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi. My daughter has a basketball game in a sec, but I'll try to answer fast and others will come along. by the way, I'm so sorry you had to come here, but you'll find us kind and caring, I think.

    First off, I am not convinced that your daughter does not take drugs. Do you know for sure that she doesn't? That is a BIG reason why people steal. If she doesn't, then she has issues and needs help desperately, but she is obviously not willing to do what she needs to do to right herself. Does she work? Do you pay any of her bills? I would change all your passwords on any accounts you have and cut off any money you give her. Stealing is not ok at her age. She will end up in prison one day if she does not decide to quit, but you can't make her quit and nothing you do will change her. She has to change herself. Your daughter and you can only change one person...yourselves.

    Your daughter is an adult. It is typical of our difficult children to make up reasons they break the law and to blame their childhoods. Don't buy into it. It doesn't matter why your daughter steals. She shoudln't do it and she needs to stop or things will only go downhill for her. The judge doesn't care what happened to her when she was ten years old. And most people have not had 100% stellar upbringings and most of us don't steal. Don't let her guilt you.

    Most of us have had to let our grown kids go out on their own and many decided to become homeless. They could live with us by following simple, reasonable rules, but refuse to do so. In that case, they choose to be homeless, but most are resourceful couch surfers and do not end up on the streets. Some actually prefer the streets where there are no rules. It is up to THEM to decide they want to change their situation. We can not do it for them. And there is nothing you can do to help her anymore. Legally she is on her own. Often they have to hit rock bottom to change, if in fact they ever decide to. They won't change at home, in comfort, not facing harsh reality.

    You deserve a happy life, even though your daughter is a thief. Accept who and w hat she is (Google up Radical Accceptance) and read the detachment article on the top of the page in this forum. You can not be happy if you are obsessed with what your daughter does and it is pointless to dwell on her because you can not change her behavior one wit. I would not ever allow her to live at home if I were you. If necessary, I'd change the locks. Does your daughter also lie, use men, act promiscuous? I'm trying to find out if she sounds like she has a personality disorder. Many of our grown difficult children have antisocial traits or borderline, and these adults are very hard to have relaqtionships with. Sometimes we figure out how to do it without enabling them. Sometimes they are so mean that we take long breaks or somebody cuts it off.

    You need to be kind to yourself and do nice things for you and spend time with those people who treat you well and do not use or abuse you. You have a right to a happy life, even though your daughter is behaving like a criminal. She is not you and you are not her. You are two seperate people and you don't have to be miserable just b ecause she did not turn out the way you wanted her to. None of us envisioned being on a forum like this nor did we look at our newborn babaies and think they would turn out like they did. But it happened and we have no choice but to either live our lives happily in spite of it or kill ourselves (healthwise) over something we can't control.

    Others will come along. I have to go now. Hoping you have a peaceful, serene night!
  3. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Shawn welcome. I am sorry you are going through this with your daughter. I am assuming your daughter is in her late 20's now. I am not aware of any program which is geared towards those who can't stop stealing, however perhaps others might.

    Unfortunately, unless our adult kids have a desire to change, usually they don't. Once we become aware of their reluctance to change, in this case to stop stealing from others, then we have to detach from their choices and their behaviors. You cannot change someone, no matter who it is, if they are not willing to change. You didn't cause this and you can't control it or change it. Only your daughter can and she isn't.

    By not forcing her to face the consequences of her behavior you are enabling her. Her father is enabling her by not reporting her theft to the police. Whatever the reason for her stealing, unless she wants to stop or is put in a place where it is impossible to steal, like jail, she will not stop. You can't make her change.

    In my opinion, when our kids are failing to thrive for whatever reason and they are wrecking havoc in our lives, WE need to change so that WE can have a peaceful life without their choices and behaviors ruining our lives. At some point parenting comes to an end and our adult kids have to face reality, face consequences and grow up. If they don't then perhaps living in a shelter will be the appropriate place for your daughter. Look into local shelters where she can live. You are not obligated to continue to take care of her and try to find options for her stealing.

    There is an article on detachment at the bottom of my post here, you may want to read it and give it to your daughter's father as well. You do her no favor by enabling her to continue stealing. Her comment about stealing because of past events is not an excuse for her behavior it is a manipulation of you so that you continue enabling her. Our kids are master manipulators so that they can continue to act out, not be responsible for their actions, usually get a free ride and continue to abuse us on all kinds of levels. Only you can stop this because she won't. How you stop it is by detaching from her.

    If she has been staying with you or her father and you are paying for anything for her, you need to stop that. You need to stop the flow of money and any free ride that she has. She may never change, but you can. You can learn to detach from her actions and choices and move ahead with your own life. It sounds as if you are taking full responsibility for your daughter's problems and they are not yours, they are hers and she needs to figure it out.

    If the rehab doesn't work, in my opinion, she needs to get a job, get her own place, get out of your home or her fathers home and face the consequences of her stealing. If you don't allow that to happen, you WILL be living this exact same scenario when your daughter is a 37 year old thief. Your options at this point seem to be to learn detachment, to change your responses to your daughter, to learn how to set boundaries on the behaviors that are abhorrent and illegal, to get support for you to learn how to detach and to find a way to get your own life back on track regardless of what your daughter is doing or not doing.

    This is hard work. We parents usually need a lot of help to learn detachment. You may want to consult a therapist for yourself so you can learn tools and get understanding and support. I'm glad you found us. Many of us have similar stories but with adult kids, the usual outcome is WE learn to detach from them and put the focus on our own lives. Wishing you peace................keep posting, it helps. We're here if you need us..........
  4. ShawnFP

    ShawnFP New Member

    Thank you! Good food for thought...
  5. ShawnFP

    ShawnFP New Member

    Thanks for your thoughts...pretty sure no drugs are involved. She's in a rehab facility for substance abuse and they seem sure that is not the issue. Family therapy starts this week at the facility but I am going to search out someone for myself and try to work on detachment.
  6. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I also wanted to add that the idea of her living with you filling you with dread is what you need to remember. She should not live with you or her father. You deserve a peaceful, comfortable home with no stress from your daughter. Make her living with you one of the NO OPTIONS on your boundary list. If her father would also do that, she will be forced to make other arrangements. It is her problem, not yours.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2014
  7. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time Staff Member

    When my son stole from me, his father, his employer and the neighbors, it was to pay for drugs. He still denies it today even when I found tons of stuff from my jewelry box and garage in his car.

    If she has kleptomania, that is rooted in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), as I am sure you know, and there is medication for that.

    I hope rehab can get to the bottom of what is going on with her and she gets help.

    If not, she WILL be in jail, and although it hurts so badly, that is where she belongs.

    There are so many difficult children talked about on this board who just...will...not...follow...the rules of society.

    We have rules to keep order. Without rules, there is chaos. That isn't fair to the rest of us.

    There is so much professional and personal help available for those who are trying as hard as they can to change. We all need help. Nobody can do this life alone successfully, no matter who you are.

    But if we spit in the face of help, there is nothing anybody can do.

    I am sorry for your family's pain, Shawn, and I do get it. You have gotten good advice here. Focus on yourself and start working a daily program of recovery.

    Prayers for you, your daughter and all of your family today.
  8. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Im going to offer another thought to this. Could she possibly have a personality disorder? Since you are all sure that drugs are not the issue then it has to be something else. Kleptomania doesnt really fit because she would then be stealing stupid stuff from everywhere. Not money but trinkets from stores that she couldnt possibly need. I knew a person who I am convinced had kleptomania and she couldnt even go anywhere...a store, a friends home, work...but what she didnt steal something. She would steal something stupid like nail polish from a friend's bathroom. I know she stole toilet paper from the bathroom's at her job when she made more than enough to buy it. She would come home with her pockets full of small things.

    This doesnt sound like your daughter. I really am wondering about borderline personality disorder or another one under the cluster b disorders.

    Someone asked if she worked...does she? Is she stealing because she just needs the money or is she doing it because can or is there some obsessive behavior behind it? No one just steals for no reason.

    Thats where I would start. Talk to the therapist about the reasoning behind her stealing.
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I agree with Janet. If your daughter is difficult and has trouble getting along with almost everyone plus lies and steals, I'd put my best guess on a personality disorder. They are very difficult to treat...the person has to REALLY want to change and try very hard for years. And they are very toxic to live with too because they are so self-centered.

    But I still wouldn't discount drugs. Even a rehab can be fooled. My daughter was a hardcore drug user and was in a psychiatric hospital for two weeks and they told us she had quit using because she said so...haha. They didn't see the signs and she told everyone she had quit. But that wasn't true. Drug users are very sneaky and I can't think of any other reason why she'd just steal such big items and so often UNLESS she has a personality disorder of some sort. But many personality disordered people also use drugs.

    It's hard to figure out the why of our grown kids. It's best just to take measures to ensure your own happiness, safety and peacefulness. They are over eighteen. They have to figure it out themselves now. For us to try to do it for them is to drive us to madness and it does NOT help them one bit.

    Just ask us how well it work...(grumble, grumble)
  10. Stress Bunny

    Stress Bunny Active Member

    First, I am very sorry you are going through this. Many of us here have had to detach from our adult difficult children. When we gave our son (difficult child) a chance to return living with us after a failed year at college, he immediately disrespected us and our property, and of course, any requirements of him so we could have a peaceful life at home. Within two short weeks it was abundantly clear that he could never live with us again, for a host of reasons, including safety. In any case, knowing this did not make it any easier to make him leave. Knowing did not console me in my deepest grief over everything about our son and his choices. And knowing will not protect me from his behavior in the future.

    But . . . knowing did help me with my resolve to take care of us (hubby, younger son, and me). Knowing has led me to a place of detachment that I didn't think possible. I have learned that I can be okay regardless of what my oldest difficult child says or does. In hindsight, removing him from our home was the absolute right decision. The choices he has made since then only confirm it. He only left a few months ago, and in in that time, he has been arrested, in a car accident, cited for underage drinking, "injured" at work, involved in domestic disputes with one of his girlfriends, failed to pay his bills, visited the ER to get prescription pain medications, lived with different girlfriends every other week, gotten someone pregnant (but learned this wasn't true), tried to get into the Army Reserves (though he should be disqualified), and now he is engaged to be married and mystified as to why we aren't thrilled.

    We fully expect that difficult child will eventually lose his job and be evicted from his apartment. He does not have a working vehicle. He uses other people to get what he wants.

    I am sharing this with you so that you can see the value of setting boundaries of your own. Regardless of what your daughter's issues are, be they personality or substance abuse or both, you will benefit from drawing the line and protecting yourself. If you don't, you will suffer much more, and you deserve a better future. I will keep you in my prayers.
  11. jeanne in CA

    jeanne in CA Member

    Hi Stress Bunny, thank you for your kind words. I cannot believe how supportive everyone has been. "Recoveringenabler" has just cut and posted my stuff to my new thread entitled "Adult daughter stole entire life savings. Hope to see you there. So far I have had no problem setting boundaries but I realize that she makes it much easier since she has not contacted us since we confronted her. I am sure that will change once the police contact her. I am so sorry to see your problems continue as well. Prayers coming your way also.
  12. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    My difficult child stole from us while drinking and using drugs. However, I think that there was more to it than that. She is borderline and I think entitlement was also a huge part of her stealing.

    We lived for a while with a deadbolt on our bedroom door and keeping medications in a safe. Looking back, I can't believe we ever lived like that and will never do it again.

    Your daughter needs to get a job and live on her own and you need to restrict access to your home and belongings to when she is always in your sight. You need to protect yourself.