Back after a few years, Difficult Child is stealing from family

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Second Time Around, May 2, 2018.

  1. I haven't posted for a few years, although I read posts occasionally. Things have been much better for several years, but sadly no longer.

    Our Difficult Child has had mental health issues and neurological issues since birth. It took several years to get an appropriate diagnosis and he was in residential care for a year when he was 8 and again when he was 10. Before he was in residential care and started on medications for bipolar disorder, he was stealing change and small bills from family members. We couldn't prove it as we never caught him in the act. However, several family members had money missing from wallets and change jars, so it was obviously occurring.

    He hasn't done anything like this for 8 years. However, this spring, it started again. Again, we haven't caught him, but my husband has had small bills missing from his wallet. Last night I got $20 in change back from the grocery store on my way home. I had two $10 bills in my wallet. I was home all evening, but left my purse in the living room where Difficult Child was watching videos on the couch when I went outside to work in the yard. This morning after he had left for school, I stopped by the store and found only one $10 bill there. So, I know he took it. He denies taking any money from his dad. Husband and I are meeting tonight to try to figure out what to do next.

    He's 17, and very intelligent, but emotionally and socially more like a 10 year old. He has always had very poor impulse control, particularly around money and food choices. He just got a part-time job at a fast-food restaurant a couple of months ago and has spent every penny on junk food and even overdrawn his account. He also lost his cell phone last month and we made him pay us $50 before we would buy another one as we still owed $180 on it. Now I'm thinking that he probably stole the money from us to pay us the $50. Or to just keep buying junk food every day.

    We're planning on locking our wallets and credit cards in a safe and hiding the key. We're not sure what else to do at this point.
  2. LookingForPeace

    LookingForPeace New Member

    Oh yes, we had to do the same. We would lock up our money, credit cards, and keys to vehicles. He liked to take a car during the middle of the night and come home in the wee hours of the morning.

    It's all so frustrating. Sounds like you are doing the right thing!
  3. BloodiedButUnbowed

    BloodiedButUnbowed Active Member

    Is he compliant with his medications for bipolar disorder?

    You might want to set up nanny cams to provide the evidence you need to confront him with his actions. Depending on his temperament, this may be successful or not.

    If he will not abide by your rules, you may have to send him away again. Either that, or simply accept that he is unwilling/unable to live by your rules, and allow him to do as he wishes.

    Perhaps there is a middle ground. Does he have a therapist? Can you ask for a joint session with son to discuss this issue?

    I suggest locking keys and money in a safe.

    Sorry for your pain.
  4. He's always been compliant taking his medications. He's had a therapist for years, but we are considering changing as the therapist is mostly for children and Difficult Child sees himself as almost an adult. We will bring this up with therapist, but feel it's important to confront him and now and insist he make restitution.

    Husband and I discussed last night. Husband will talk to Difficult Child tonight and tell him he has to pay back the amount stolen plus restitution. If he refuses, he will lose his smart phone and have to go back to a flip phone.

    Fortunately, he doesn't drive, so we don't have to worry about him taking the car.

    Husband said last night that he thought Difficult Child had deliberately lost his smart phone so that he could get a different one. We made him get the replacement through the insurance instead of the newer, fancier phone he wanted. He's constantly buying something and then getting tired of it and selling it cheaply. We think he is addicted to shopping as he's constantly wanted to go shopping since he was a kid. We don't pay for any of that, but he does earn some money and gets birthday and Christmas money.

    We're working towards getting him a placement in a group home once he turns 18 next year. Right now Difficult Child doesn't want to and thinks he is capable of working and living in apartment on his own. However, he often forgets to take his medications, doesn't practice hygiene, doesn't cook anything except soup and french fries, doesn't do anything to take care of himself, can't manage his money, etc. He would quickly get himself into a lot of trouble if left without supervision. So we're still working on getting him into a placement if we can.

    It's so hard on my husband. He envisions Difficult Child in a homeless shelter, with diabetes, in pain, manic. And that might actually happen.
  5. BloodiedButUnbowed

    BloodiedButUnbowed Active Member

    Hi there,

    I am sorry for what you're dealing with. My teen stepson is bipolar and we are not sure what his future holds. He has told his therapist that he craves the manic phases...this has us worried for compliance with mood stabilizing medications. So I can relate to an extent, at least.

    Not to nitpick, but if your son forgets to take his medicine, he isn't compliant. He may be willing to take the medications, but if he does not take them, he isn't compliant.He does sound like he isn't responsible enough to live independently at this time.

    Have you applied for SSI on his behalf and does he have an adult services caseworker? If he has an IEP the school should already have these wheels grinding for him.
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Start a paper trail and disability status for your child NOW or you will have NO power over him at 18. Assess him for being disabled with help from school and his psychiatrist. Very important both. This is what we did with autistic son and without the early start and my gaining guardianship ( with my son's agreement) my son would have been on his own at 18 and he wasn't ready. I can't stress enough that even now your son needs to agree with help or you can't get him any. You can't do anything at 18 without his full consent, even if he can't care for himself. Adults have the right to not be able to care for themselves and to get no help for it. Stupid law but there it is.

    Today my son is on his own, doing well. He was never a behavior problem though and is not mentally ill. That made it easier. Autism is a neurological delay not a mental illness. Your son's defiance may be his worse enemy. He may have to fail to accept help.

    I would not allow your son to receive plain cash from anyone. He doesn't need to go shopping for any reason even Christmas
    Tell the family to buy him things he needs,not cash or gift cards. Take any from noncompliant family and put it in an account for his later, more mature use. If he steals or breaks the law, call the cops. He needs to learn consequences now before a stranger turns him in and it is worse.

    He needs to stop being the boss. It is dangerous for him. And you.

    Love and light!
    Last edited: May 3, 2018
  7. Triedntrue

    Triedntrue Active Member

    Dont be too sure about the cars my son took ours well before he was supposed to drive.
  8. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    Our adopted daughter had to have brain surgery at age nine. Additionally, she has bipolar disorder.

    She has very poor impulse control. Her eating habits are almost frightening. She just called today to ask for money to buy pants because her pants no longer fit. She has no cause and affect reasoning.

    Many folks with bipolar disorder also seem to crave carbs. I once saw her eat an entire loaf of bread.

    Our daughter did not /does not steal though. We are lucky in that regard.

    We often wonder if she has more than bipolar , but also some minimum brain damage.

    Her medications help to a certain extent. Therapy helps a little too, but now that she is an adult, she won’t go.

    At 17, this is the last chance you have to send him to a boarding school. Since theivery is involved, perhaps it should be considered.

    A neuro-psychiatric evaluation might be in order.

    Is he on medications? Is he compliant? Have you drug tested him? Will he go to counseling? All things to also be considered.

    In the mean time Lock up your stuff like Fort Knox.

    * Just saw your second post. A group home sounds like a good possibility.
    Last edited: May 16, 2018