stealing and lying


Hi All,
just wanted to post about my difficult child 1 and what happened the other night and how we handled it--not looking for advice so much as to just write it out and process it I guess.

On Thursday night, Emily (difficult child 1) came over to our house. Her living situation is strange right now. She has her apt. all to herself because toxic boyfriend moved out. She doesn't seem to spend much time there because she said he sometimes tries to come over and will stand outside knocking and bothering her. Okay, this is her story, maybe it is true, maybe not, we never know. She is planning to move out of the apt. in a week or two and will be living with some other people and paying much less rent. She says her landlord is okay with her breaking the lease because the boyfriend broke it first and he says he won't hold her to her part of it. Sure hope that is true.

Okay, more background before the "event" that I am writing about! She came over on Easter Sunday and we had a really nice time. She even cleaned difficult child 2's bathroom and our family room and straightened up easy child's bedroom for him. Well, as she was doing that she came across a bag of rolled up coins and came out to show it to us--"look at all the money C has rolled up--$140.00! I was uneasy about this--she has stolen money from easy child and difficult child 2 in the past.

Okay, next part of story. All this week it has seemed she has found reasons for wanting to come to our house when my husband and I are at work and we have not allowed her to do that. I have had a "gut feeling" that she was wanting to come over maybe to get that money.

Thursday night she was there and so was my son--very unusual. He works about 50-60 hrs per week and is hardly ever home but he had the night off and they were going to hang out together--they are quite close. My son seemed upset at one point and was obviously looking for something. I asked him what was wrong and he said that he could have sworn he had more money than he has--he said he was short about $100.00 in his rolled up coins. But then he said maybe he was crazy--maybe he didn't have as much as he thought. My heart sank--I was quite sure Emily had taken it. No one else has been in our house lately and none of the rest of us would steal his money. Emily was in the bathtub--I asked her how much money Casey had the other day when she counted it and she said $130-140 dollars. He said he ought to have $240.00.

Emily came out and wanted to know what was going on and I told her and she said she knew we thought she took the money but she didn't. I told her that yes, we were suspicious because of her behavior in the past and because no one else has been at our house. She was very sad and said she would just go home. I told her she could stay, that we would just set this aside since we had no proof. She insisted on leaving, however. I did remind her of an incident from a couple of years ago when she took her sister's money and then was very hurt that we were accusing her--she denied it up and down and told me that she would have a hard time building trust with me since I didn't believe her when she was telling the truth. Well, she said that was a few years ago and she has grown up a lot now. But, the fact remains that we know she did take the money that time and was so very sincere in her hurt feelings that we would think she could do something like that!

Okay, so my husband took her home--well, not home, he dropped her off downtown in the rain. He told her that it was very sad--sad if she did take the money and sad if she didn't. She stuck to her denials and said she wouldn't come over anymore. He told her we need time to heal and that we love her and are proud of her for her efforts in working and taking care of herself.

Meanwhile, my son and I were talking and we both felt so bad--bad because there was that .5 chance that we were wrong--no proof that she took it and she wouldn't admit it. He said that he thought because they were so close that she wouldn't steal from him anymore but he realizes he needs to keep his money locked up now. He was afraid she would think he hated her--he doesn't. He actually mainly felt sorry for her--sorry that she would do something like this. He would have lent her the money if she needed it and would have asked him for it.

My husband got home and the 3 of us sat and talked. Then Emily called, wanting to talk to Casey. They talked and he said he was going to go hang out with her. He told her that she needed to understand why he thought she took the money and she said she could understand his position but that she didn't do it. He said they could just leave it there and go on. I was very proud of him.

Okay, now we are to last night (Fri). Around 1AM my dtr Molly came to wake me up (she had been gone Thursday night) and said that she was missing her favorite shirt. It had been hanging on her closet door, she was planning to wear it today to see her boyfriend. Again, my heart sank. Emily has taken clothing belonging to Molly in the past and I was quite sure she had to have taken it. Molly was very angry and upset. We sat a long time and talked. She is definitely grieving the sister she wishes she had. She had begun to trust her again because they've been pretty close lately--same as with my son--couldn't believe that she would betray their closeness.

She does seem to have some insight into why Emily would do this, something I have so hard a time making sense of. She says she thinks that Emily can convince herself that she didn't do anything wrong. She says that she herself has been able to do this--lie to herself until she believes the lie--part of her dissociative disorder. She thinks Emily may suffer from it too. She says that she will bring up something from the past and Emily will look confused and can't remember it. So, maybe there is a problem with that. I know Emily has some sort of mental health problem--so many possibilities thrown out but nothing that has seemed to really "fit."

My conclusion (thanks, if you have stuck with me this long) is that I have come a long ways--I think I am at the accepting part now. I accept that she has mental health issues, that we have to set boundaries, that she may never be "normal." On the bright side, she seems to be able to live away from home, can get a job and do well at it. She seems to want family support--she trusts us to some extent and wants to be with us. I think she realizes we have her best interests at heart. I understand that my gut feelings are usually correct--we need to protect our belongings from her and I will have to inspect her purse and bags when she is leaving our house. I think I am able to accept her for who she is--yes, she is not trustworthy, but she does have good qualities too--it isn't a black and white situation. I can love her despite her flaws and I don't accept responsibility for her flaws. If she would like to change her coping mechanisms she can get therapy. I can't change her but I can protect my family and still have a relationship with her. It doesn't have to be an all or nothing situation with her, at least not at this point.

Thanks for listening, helps to get thoughts out in writing to clarify them!



Well-Known Member
I think what you wrote makes sense under the circumstances. It
might seem convoluted to people without experience in the arena
of MH, but it makes sense to me. It's really a version of the
Serenity Prayer. DDD


Thank you, DDD! I am so glad you understand and I think you are right, it is a version of the Serenity Prayer--hadn't thought of that. I do feel a sense of peace. It feels good to be able to feel that serenity despite circumstances.


No real answers to life..
Perhaps meeting on "neutral" ground for a while might be in order. We do not allow our difficult child on our property without one of us being present and with him at all times. It is much easier to meet him in a park or restaurant than to go over why we don't want to live under lock and key.

In her mind difficult child may have taken the items as "payment" for her work, cleaning. Sounds like the convoluted thinking my difficult child would have reasoned.....



New Member
I hear ya, and can very much relate, in fact was going to do an update post on my difficult child in regards to this very samething.



Active Member
I understood every word Jbrain. DDD.....yer so smart..........the serentity prayer........I agree :bravo:

JB, my difficult child's have both stolen from us. It's not something we can change nor however do we have to condone it nor do we have to allow it to happen. It's all about protections. Neither difficult child has a key to our place. Neither difficult child is allowed to be here by themselves. I don't leave my purse or anything else like checks, cash, jewelry etc lying around. The temptation is too big and I want my things.

Just protect yourself and have your easy child's protect themself. I wouldn't try and search her belongings upon leaving as that will not go over well and will definately cause everyone grief.

I don't like addiction, but I also don't like mental illness. (let me clarify that....I don't like my difficult child's mental illness).


Well-Known Member
Staff member

You could have been describing my difficult child. I could see her doing that ~ pointing out how much money there was (or rather what was left after pocketing some of it) thinking she would fool everybody. Later, when the money turned up missing, she would point out that there was "only" $130 there when she had counted it.

Of course, why she was counting it in the first place was a huge red flag. And the shirt ~ my difficult child feels entitled to anything that belongs to us or her sister. Of course, she is highly indignant if we "borrow" something of hers.

The only solution for us is to make sure she is never left alone in our house or around our things. Even though she lives on her own and is doing relatively well, I don't trust her. She asked me the other day if she could come over and do laundry while husband and I were home. I said yes but then told my husband before she came over to make sure he hid the tutoring money that I had left on the desk in the kitchen.

It's sad that we have to live this way but it is what it is.



New Member
I agree, and it is sad that this is the way of life for many who live with mental health issues in the family.


New Member
When my difficult child was using I couldn't leave a quarter on the table without it dissapearing and I couldn't leave him in a room by himself. One time my easy child daughter left her purse on the table, not thinking, then came back out and said $20.00 was missing. Of course they got in a huge screaming battle and she left because she felt we were taking his side, he started crying saying how bad it sucked to not have people trust you and not to be able to live home anymore and yada yada yada. We hadn't seen him take it, but of course we knew he did. So there wasn't much we could do about it besides remind her not to ever leave anything where he could get it. Not that we were blaming her, but it happened so many times in the past and we knew when he was using he was stealing so my thought behind it was don't leave anything around, then you can't wonder if he took it. He could then convince us and himself that he didn't do it and I know there were many times I thought I had 20.00 more before he left and then second guessed myself.

Even now that he's clean, I won't leave anything around when he comes to visit and easy child daughter locks her bedroom door. I still don't like even going to the bathroom if somebody else isn't in the house with him while he's here.

It's an awful feeling, but I guess the only solution is don't have them over, or lock up everything that isn't nailed down.


Thanks for the great replies--it is so comforting to know others deal with this exact same thing. If I didn't have this group I think I would be wondering why everyone I know has "normal" kids and mine are so screwed up. It is just so good to know that other regular parents have these sorts of problems.

Well, we will certainly be more protective of our belongings if difficult child 1 is over here and I will probably be less likely to have her here very often--I think meeting on neutral ground is a good idea. We need to limit the time the 2 girls are together anyway because Emily is a trigger for Molly's dissociative problems. Short visits are good but after a few hours Emily tends to revert to some of her old behaviors and that scares Molly (such as pretending she is going to hit Molly with something, flicking it close to her face--Molly isn't actually afraid now but it brings up the feelings of fear from when she was little and Emily did those sorts of things).

So glad you guys are here, it means the world to me!



Active Member
this was beautifully said by you, Jane:

I understand that my gut feelings are usually correct--we need to protect our belongings from her and I will have to inspect her purse and bags when she is leaving our house. I think I am able to accept her for who she is--yes, she is not trustworthy, but she does have good qualities too--it isn't a black and white situation. I can love her despite her flaws and I don't accept responsibility for her flaws. If she would like to change her coping mechanisms she can get therapy. I can't change her but I can protect my family and still have a relationship with her. It doesn't have to be an all or nothing situation with her, at least not at this point.


Thanks, Ant's Mom--so many people on this site are great writers, usually I feel I am just stumbling along trying to make my thoughts come out in a way others can understand!