Regrets pressing Charges?


New Member
I'm a parent of a 19yo who has progressively become more defiant. He moved out about 6 months ago - angry we had an established curfew-(he's an adult you know!) and as far as I can tell stayed with friends or camped or slept in his car for the summer, i'm not really sure. Hoping to get him focused in a positive direction we helped get him into student housing and enrolled him in a local university with the understanding that as long as his GPA was 3.0 or better we would continue to pay for his tuition and housing. Two months into school he dropped out. He quit his part time job. And a few weeks after that he was kicked out of student housing for possession of marijuana, he was charged and is waiting to appear in court (not for another 4 months?). In the meantime we discovered he has stolen around $10,000 in cash from our home, pawned our golf clubs, mountain bikes, and tools - who knows what else, i'm sure we'll discover more later. I would like to ask those parents who have pressed charges against their own children if they have any regrets doing so? Did your child improve? Did they change? Or are they worse off now than before? We live in a smaller town and personally know the judges and police. If he were to spend time in jail I believe it would have a more positive impact in his life than a negative one. My concern is he has stated he's moving to California in January. If he continues in this bad behavior he is exhibiting now, and he is caught and arrested there, he, no doubt, will have a more brutal experience there. Should I try to intervene now by pressing charges or let him deal with his own consequences that may change him for the worse?


one day at a time
Welcome to the forum, FITS.

Your story sounds a lot like my story with my son, who is now 26. He stole from me as well. I turned him in once, and it was once in a series of arrests and jail sentences and homeless periods.

I can't tell you which situation helped turn him around, but he was in jail 8 or 9 times, has misdemeanors and felonies, was homeless some 5 times for long periods of time, and was in several rehabs. I called police on multiple occasions, including the times he threatened suicide.

I can't tell you what to do, but I believe my son was better off in jail during his worst periods. At least he had a roof, three meals and little to no access to drugs.

Your son has stolen quite a bit from you---more than my son even though he did steal from me and whomever he could.

We can't know the future. Today, my son is 26 and he has been on a progressively better path for almost 18 months.

Don't think you can control outcomes of any of it, because you won't and you can't. If my son stole more than $10,000 from me, I would have called the police.

When our kids are on drugs, there is nothing that will stop them from trying to get more drugs. Nothing. It's not personal about us. It's about their drugs.

Please do whatever you feel you need to do, and then, once you do it, let go. Start working to let go of him and any consequences (and believe me I know how hard that is to do, and how impossible it may sound).

Start working on YOU, and on detachment with love. There is a great post at the top of this forum on Detachment. I printed it out and taped it on the wall. It helped me a great deal.

We are here of you. There is hope for our adult kids, once they hit rock bottom and start to want to change.

In the meantime, we are here for you. We care and we understand.

New Leaf

Well-Known Member
HI FITS, welcome to the forum. Sorry for your need to be here.

I have not pressed charges, no record of our belongings stolen, so could not.
We have missed cash, jewelry, most of all, peace in our home and lost time.
You have younger children, so what ever choice you make affects them too.
Sometimes, a strong message sent, helps them to understand your convictions and expectations.
Stealing is wrong. This is a large amount.
I am sorry, I know how it feels.
If I could have pressed charges, I would have. My daughter is deeply entrenched in her addiction, and homeless.
Jail would be a relief.
I think if we had put our foot down early on, things may be different today.
There was always denial, and we had no proof, but we knew it was her.
I hope you find the answers you are seeking.
Others will come along, and offer advice and comfort.
It is your path and decision.

Take care of yourself.
Try to focus on you, during this hard time, as well as your younger children.
We were so busy trying to figure out our two d cs, sometimes we were remiss in our focus on the younger ones.
I do think that is where the concentration should be, our d cs are adults, my two youngest were still minors.

Prayers for you and yours.

Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member

I am so sorry for what you have gone through with your son. You have found a good place to be. There is great support here and lots of practical advise. Take what will work for you and let the rest go.

I am a parent who had to call the police on my son several times. The most my son stole from me at one time was $3000. It was never easy making those phone calls but I knew I had to do it. I knew that if I didn't I would be sending a message to my son that I excused his behavior. I wish I could tell you that my son turned his life around but that did not happen. He has managed to stay out of jail which is a good thing.

I do not regret calling the police.

Every parent here has to decide for themselves how much they are willing to put up with and when enough is enough. What I can tell you with certainty is that our adult children make choices for themselves that we as parents have absolutely no control over. There is nothing we can do to "change" them. They will only change if and when they choose to. We as parents only have control over how we respond to the chaos our adult children bring into our lives. It is so important to set clear boundaries, it sends a message to our adult children that we as their parents will no longer allow them to manipulate us.

I wish you well going forward. We are here for you if want to share more.


Well-Known Member
We put our son out when he took $700 in cash from us. It was not the first time he had stolen from us. We lost many things to local pawn shops or just to the trash when the pawn shops wouldn't take them. We did not call the police, though we told him in advance we would if he stole. #1, since it was cash, it would be almost impossible to prove. #2, I simply couldn't face it. After he left we checked to make sure my husband's guns were still in the house. Had they been gone, we would have called the police. Thankfully, they were not. I later discovered my mother's wedding rings were gone. To this day, he swears he didn't take them. I don't believe him; still, what's done is done.

$10,000? Yes, for that amount we would have called the police. Would I regret it? I don't know. You have to do what you can live with. That is the real question in my opinion.


Well-Known Member
I also can't tell you what to do....what I came to realize when my son was flagrantly violating all our rules such as using the car in the middle of the night without that there are consequences in society for breaking the rules and we are not helping him by protecting him from those consequences.....

So $10000 is a lot of money and would have very serious consequences if he stole that from someone else. If you report it to the police and he is charged then you may have some input with the I guess as I am writing this I think you would be helping in the long run to bring charges....I don't think letting him get away with stealing that much from you will help him at all.


Well-Known Member
he has stolen around $10,000 in cash from our home, pawned our golf clubs, mountain bikes, and tools - who knows what else, i'm sure we'll discover more later.
I agree with the others.

You have to do what enables you to look at yourself in the mirror. Not for a specific result for your son. He is in charge of whether or not he changes. When he decides he will.

There are arguments for or against. A theft of that amount of money may be a felony. To permit it to go without consequence could be communicating something to your child. But the consequences for him might be substantial. What can you live with?

I really feel for you. Over and above the consequences for your son. When my son has taken anything from our home I have felt very betrayed. Even with small things, like an electronic razor. It is an erosion of the trust that exists between family. That he did not care how it felt to us. It is not a small thing to me. It was not a thoughtless act. There was intent. He had asked me for it a few days before. I said no.

The thing is something needs to stop these kids. I think you have framed the question correctly. Is he better off facing consequences now rather than going unchecked off to California?

Keep posting. I am glad you are here. Welcome.

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Active Member
I've had my son arrested twice. The first time he was 17, dealing pot out of our house. Thought I'd teach him a lesson and straighten him out. I had him arrested again when he was 25 for residential burglary. A felony. He just wouldn't stop stealing from us and he crossed the line when he stole his sisters ATM card. She has special needs and he was able to get her PIN number from her. Again, I thought I'd rather have him arrested for this than to be shot trying to enter a strangers house.

My son is now 32 and is still an addict and currently homeless. He's been in and out of jail more times than I can count, court ordered to multiple rehabs, served a short sentence in prison, and I'm sure he's now steeling from other people. Yes, he has stolen from me again. This time I didn't have it in me to call the police. I finally understand that my son will get better or worse no matter what I or don't do. It's up to him.

I purchased a "Nest" camera so that I can see if he comes back. It alerts me if there's motion near any of my doors and I can actually see from my cell phone what the movement is. Brilliant. When I come home at night I'm not longer looking around wondering if he's gotten in. If he does come back I will call the police.

I selfishly hope he goes back to jail for a long time so I can get some rest. It's exhausting wondering if I'll see him wandering around as I'm driving around town. When he got out of Wasco last December he was healthy and handsome. Nearly a year later now and he's almost unrecognizable. It's almost unbearable.

I'm sure you'll do what is best for you. There are no right answers. Best of luck to yiu, you've come to a good place here. Hugs...


Well-Known Member
That's a tough one. Count me in as one who did report my daughter to the police numerous times. It was always for unruly behavior or drugs though. She did have charges brought against her several times as a juvenile. The one time as an adult she did on her own by shoplifting. Similar to you, my husband is in the legal profession and so he knows most of the judges and magistrates in town. Each time we appeared in court they said we were doing a great job and they didn't think they could do any better so they released he to us. As an adult though that stopped and when she appeared for the shoplifting charge she had to take the consequences just like everyone else.

I do not regret reporting my daughter to the police but like others have said, everyone has to decide that for themselves. We did not do it lightly, my husband being in the profession was very much against it at first but realized it was our only hope. It is a very difficult decision. I think if she had stolen that much money from us I would have filed charges also.

by the way we sent our daughter off to college and she was arrested within six week for pot smoking and drinking on campus. She too had to go through the disciplinary system and was suspended after the first semester. e then enrolled her in community college and she never went to class and we stopped that charade.