where do we start?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by justtired, Sep 28, 2011.

  1. justtired

    justtired New Member

    Hi, I'm new here. Our son is 24. He works for our small family business and occasionally customers will pay by cash or make the check out to cash. We suspected he's been stealing some of the cash by giving customers alleged 'discount's and recently we found that he's also been cashing some of the checks made out to cash. We got proof today from 2 customers which really made it hit home to us. Our son is a thief, and he's stealing from us now, and probably has been for a long time.

    All along we've sort of been missing cash from my purse, or my husband has been missing cash out of his wallet but we always explained it away, or thought maybe we just spent it. Looking back I remember my son asking me where he could find a check cashing place. I asked him why he needed it but he said his friend was looking for one. He also mentioned one time that he found jewelry and sold it to one of the places that buy gold.. Now I'm wondering if any of my jewelry is missing. I don't wear my jewelry and I really don't even remember what I had so I can't tell if anything is missing. I recently put my grandmothers/mothers wedding ring in the safe so I know that's secure and that's all I really care about anyway.

    We asked our son (not accused) if he took any checks and he looked me straight in the eyes and said no, he wouldn't do that. We've asked him about missing money all along and he's denied taking it. He's so believable when he tells us that I feel bad about asking him. But he's been lying to my face all along.

    It makes me wonder what else he's capable of. I really screwed up with him. He was so dyslexic when he was a child and so anxious that I felt I had to protect him all the time, from the school who put him in regular ed. classes at first, and from life in general. I should have let him tough it out. He went into Special Education and all his teachers loved him and he did well but he never graduated. He used to suffer such severe anxiety attacks in school.

    When we asked him about the checks missing he denied it of course and then got very angry. At one point he left and texted me about how we'll be so much happier without him. I got scared because I thought he was going to kill himself. He held a knife up to his neck last year when he got angry at me because I insisted he sell his car for a higher price . We buy our kids their first cars, but it's up to them to supply insurance and gas etc. He could never afford the insurance so he sold it cheaper than what we paid for it. After he put the knife up to his neck I told him to go ahead and sell it. With the money he bought a lap top even though we already had a computer. I threatened to call the police when he had the knife but I didn't. I probably should have but I live in a small town and was afraid people would find out.

    He sort of holds us hostage with his threats and we keep giving in to him because of them. Honestly, I'm afraid of him but I don't know if my fear is legitimate. I lock my bedroom door at night and put something in front of it so he can't sneak in when I'm sleeping. I just don't know about him anymore, or know him. If we're nice to him he's a pleasant person to live with, but if we make too many ( what he feels are too many) demands on him he flips out and gets angry. The only demands we make on him are to put the garbage twice a week and mow the lawn. We're lucky if he puts the garbage out once a month. We're only 'allowed' to remind him once to put the garbage out or he gets angry and he'll do it when he's ready, but of course, he forgets. We try not to push him so he doesn't get angry.
    We're hostages in our own home. It's ridiculous and it's embarrassing to even write that here.

    I'm babbling on here.. I just don't know where to start. I read on here where at some point you tell your kids they have to leave. Is that what I should do? Should I try to get him to go to counseling first? I really don't know where to start.

    I'm sorry this post is so disjointed. I'm crying as I write it and I'm trying to make sense of everything.
  2. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    How does your husband weigh in on these problems? Are you all a parenting team or have you been "in charge" all these years? in my humble opinion, that is the starting point for charting your course. You and your husband have to unite in the position you take. Obviously your son has many issues and seems to be "running the show" so to speak. Continuing on as you have been living isn't a viable option. Working in the family business when he is stealing from the company does not make sense. Stealing from your home is not acceptable. Threatening to harm himself to gain his objective is also not appropriate.

    The only advice I can give with absolute certainty is that you and your husband need to speak freely with one another and decide when and where you need to draw the line in the sand. What I would do isn't relevant to your family. We have a dysfunctional adult male in our lives. Within the last month he hocked some of my jewelry. I understand the deep disappointment and concerns for the future. You have a found a place where many compassionate members are ready to listen, offer advice and sending caring thoughts and hugs your way. Welcome. DDD
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    in my opinion he's way too old to live with you, hold you hostage, threaten to kill himself (you should have hospitalized him) or steal from you and get away with it. If that were my kid, he'd be out on his own, even if that meant living in a shelter, and I'd probably have turned him in for stealing because without consequences how will he ever change? What if he steals from a stranger and gets caught? In fact, any time he displayed violence, I'd call the police. He can't think he can act like a two year old, in a man's body, and that it is ok. I believe in tough love for adults who refuse to grow up (I had one...she did turn her life around with some tough love).

    Does he have to pay rent at least? You buy him his own car? Really? Not saying I'm a better parent...I have made TONS of mistakes...but my kids USE my car, pay whatever they have to for insurance on our plan, and buy gas or they don't drive. in my opinion treating him like he is a child, even if he has some mental health issues, is not the answer to making him a stronger more responsible young man. What is he going to do when you aren't around anymore? Do you also pay his cell phone or other bills? in my opinion he is just too old to be paid for...he should pay his own bills.

    JMO...others will come along. One last thing...are drugs in the picture? That's a BIG reason why anyone steals, even from family. They need money for drugs.
  4. PatriotsGirl

    PatriotsGirl Guest

    I echo absolutely everything MWM said....
  5. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Hello and welcome. First, I'd like to say that you really can't know whether the way you were with your son is the cause of his current behaviour... it may be, it may not be, or more likely it's a factor in a much more complicated picture. Blaming yourself is understandable but your son is responsible for what he is doing right now and even if you had been that mythical "perfect parent", you might have ended up in the same place... So, to state the obvious, the only place you can go from is here.
    Your son is behaving in a way that is unacceptable. Stealing and lying are not very nice, particularly when it involves one's own family, and more to the point the former is a serious crime. What do you do about that? Well, I suppose you have to devise a campaign that will bring an end to the bully's ransom under which he is holding you and your husband. I agree with DDD that you would ideally need to make a totally concerted plan with your husband. You, of course, will have to decide on the details of that.
    There comes a time in everyone's life when enough is enough. I think you have come to that time now.
  6. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome, justtired. It does sound like your son is holding you hostage. Changing this around so that you are back in charge of your own home will not be easy, but it's absolutely necessary. I would agree that the first step is to sit down with your husband and decide what your plan of action should be, and also decide how and when you are going to stick to it. It's extremely important that you be prepared to follow through with whatever consequences you decide upon, and then prepare yourself for the inevitable fallout from that. Have a "Plan B" as well. You might think about seeking the advice of a therapist and developing a plan of action together in his or her office. A third party can sometimes help you strategize more logically, since they aren't emotionally involved.

    Since your son is stealing from you, I'm wondering if he may have a drug problem. What do you think? If you suspect he is using drugs, I'd also suggest looking into Al-anon, Nar-Anon, or Families Anonymous and attending a few of those meetings. It's really important that you create a support network for yourselves as you go through this.

    Hang in there. You can do this ...
  7. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Welcome to the board. :)

    You've no reason to be ashamed of anything. It's not you that is doing anything wrong.

    You tried to help your son growing up the best you could. We can only do the best we can with what we know at the time. We're all only human.

    If it were my child? I'd contact the police and press charges for the missing money. I'd have a formal eviction written up with a firm date on it. Any repercussions by the child would be met with police or hospitalization or both.

    It may sound harsh, but he's 20, an adult and plenty old enough to be out on his own. As an adult child living at home, it's a privilege, not a right. He either follows your rules, or he leaves. He doesn't have to like it, it's your home.

    I would say if you fear him, you probably have good reason even if you can't come of with a long list of whys. There are plenty of ways to threaten without ever voicing a threat.

    You have every right to live in your home in peace.

    I'm glad you found us, sorry that you needed to.

  8. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    Hello and welcome. I agree with the others that say that a 24 year old that steals and manipulates and doesn't contribute should be given the ultimatum of either shaping up or moving out. Drugs do come to mind in which case you have yet another issue to take a firm stand on. Covering for him and ignoring his behaviors will only prolong them. You say you fear him, I suggest you see a counselor who can advise you how to remain safe while you proceed with a behavioral intervention and the possible eviction of your son
  9. FlowerGarden

    FlowerGarden Active Member

    You never have to be embarrassed about something you are posting here. Everyone understands. Everyone cares. Many of us have been blind at first to what our difficult children did. No one thinks to blame their difficult child at first. You have been given excellent advice by the others. Welcome and hugs to you.
  10. justtired

    justtired New Member

    Thanks for all the replies..

    I'm positive he's not on drugs, but I do think he may have a problem with gambling. I find a lot of scratch off tickets and lotto tickets around.

    husband and I are a parenting team..now. We never were before this. It was always me who dealt with the kids.

    husband plans on sitting down with him and asking if there's anything else that he's stolen and why.. We're also making a list of rules that he has to live by if he wants to stay here. He has to get his GED, find another job, stop his lying and stealing and we're still working on the rest, or he'll have to find another place to live.

    We'll see how that goes.
  11. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    The best way to stop the stealing is to remove the temptation. So... no more handling the till, etc., and money in the house must be locked up. Once they start, its hard to break the habit unless temptation is removed...

    The other stuff... needs to be worked through.

    If you have a chance you might want to grab the book "The Explosive Child"... not because your child is that way, but because it will give you two things...
    1) a different perspective on where some of these problems might come from, and
    2) a different approach to solving problems (called collaborative problem solving... )

    The library might have it so you don't have to buy it... but its a good read, and you might want it sooner rather than later.
  12. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    The Explosive Child is a great book that will give you good foundations, but it may help you to read more books on dealing with adult children. The book I found the most helpful in my own situations was Setting Boundaries With Your Adult Children: http://www.amazon.com/Setting-Bound...=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1317301352&sr=1-1

    The only caveat is that it has a decidedly religious slant, so keep that in mind. If you are religious, you will find it comforting. If you are not, the suggestions/steps in the book are still spot-on and extremely helpful, no matter what your faith. Another good one is When Our Grown Kids Disappoint Us: Letting Go of Their Problems, Loving Them Anyway, and Getting on with Our Lives : http://www.amazon.com/When-Our-Grown-Kids-Disappoint/dp/074323281X/ref=pd_sim_b1

    I'm glad you and your husband are on the same page, that is so important. Keep in mind that if you confront him on the stealing, it's very likely he will deny it, and you may not get answers on whether or not he stole anything else. Please come back and let us know how it goes.
  13. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Really glad that you and your husband are teaming up. After you complete your list I would suggest that you review it together and see what, if anything, needs to be weeded out. The one item you included that makes me suggest that is "lying". Obviously that is an unacceptable trait but it is also one that would be difficult to enforce. How will you "know" he is lying? Unless it is directly provable it might open a vague can of worms. Take your time and do what you are comfortable doing. Sending supportive hugs. DDD
  14. justtired

    justtired New Member

    Thanks, I'll check out those books.

    Last night husband and my son had a little talk. I wasn't around at the time but he admitted to husband that he stole the check, and of course swore he'd never do it again.. and then he wrote him an apology letter addressed to husband saying how sorry he was, and how he felt so upset seeing the disappointment on husband's face and for upsetting him and telling husband how much he loved him and wants to regain his trust.

    No mention was made of me until the very last sentence. Son wrote "I love you dad,.. and mom too..

    That's ok, I'm not upset by that.. I'm just thinking now that maybe husband should take over and deal with son completely and I'll just back him up.

    husband actually got the truth out of him, and an apology. That's something that I've never been able to do. So, I'm cautiously optimistic that perhaps son will do an about face now that he's finally got his dad's attention and turn into the easy child. Do miracles really happen?

    Of course, the whole apology letter could just be bs anyway. I guess time will tell.

    We haven't presented our list to son yet, we're still working on it.
  15. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Well... miracles do happen, but u-turns are not usually quite that fast. Its more like turning around a semi on a mountain road, than a sports car on the autobahn.

    Having said that... sometimes, Dad's involvement is in fact a miracle ingredient. Especially as they get older. If Dad can step up, and put a LOT more into relationship building and so on (not sure exactly where that is at in your family, but lots of Dads are more "distant" than they need to be)... its worth a try.

    So yes, maybe you do need to back off and let Dad drive... but make sure you're along for the ride (as in, involved behind the scenes on planning and decisions, and made aware of what is agreed to etc.)
  16. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Careful. Adult difficult child's tend to be great con artists and know how to pull at our heartstrings when they are cornered.

    I would be very tough with him and hold him to a high standard or how will he ever hold himself to a high standard? in my opinion you shouldn't have to lock up money from your adult child. That would really bother me.

    I don't think "tell me how you feel" will work with your son. He will probably "play" you. I'm more in favor of "This is how it is. It's our house. We're in charge." Period. in my opinion you have to both take a strong stand to help him grow up. He may need a push to do it. He can't keep stealing from you...for whatever he steals for. It's wrong and illegal. He is getting away with all sorts of horrible behaviors with no consequences. He is going to be 30 in six years...

    I'd make sure he pays rent too. And chores? Are you kidding? My kids had to do chores at ten and they had no choice. He is too old to be living like a little kid, with all the perks.

  17. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    I'm so sorry. It is likely that something is up...perhaps an addiction of some kind.
    Locking your bedroom doors and worrying about your son stealing from you is no way to live.
    I'm glad that you and husband are on the same parenting page now. This is awesome. Also, that your son has admitted to at least some of the thefts.
    Also, your requests in order for him to continue to live in your home seem very reasonable to me.
    Don't blame yourself for any of this. Did you ever stop to think that as business owners you taught him that importance of a strong work ethic and also gave him an opportunity to work and go to school at the same time...a rarity these days? It was he who chose to mess this up.
    Bless him with the opportunity to make good choices now and to learn that one does have to suffer the consequences of making the WRONG choices.
    If he does not honor your requests...than stick to your word and do what you say, even though it will be very hard.
    Sending good thoughts that he finds the healthy path.
  18. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911


    YOU hold yourself hostage and have for several years. You admitted it in your first post to us. I think that is probably the best thing you can do for yourself, your husband and your son. You said "I probably screwed up." I file that under the "I should have" scenario, which is akin to the "What I would have done had I known to do any better, but I didn't, so I did the best I could with what I knew at the time and it's time to forgive myself and move on." life-deal.

    You also need to stop. Stop feeling sorry for him. Stop enabling him to steal. Stop giving him permission to walk all over you. Stop holding you in fear in your OWN home. Let me ask you something. HOW MUCH of what you own did HE work for? (answer to yourself) How much of WHAT length of YOUR LIFE has he participated in growing your business? (answer to yourself). Now if your son were say a person that was (not a relative - a guy off the streets) that you hired; HOW LONG would you put up with that person stealing from the business you built, put your life into and grew? (answer to yourself). Would you have instead? Had a talk with him? Accepted a letter from that person saying "OH Mr. and Mrs. Justtired - I swear on a stack of pancakes I will never, ever, ever, ever do it again, I swear - and ps I love you." (smiley face, kitten, rainbow)? And accepted that on good faith that he'd never skim your till again? (answer THAT to yourself) Then answer me - Are you that naive? (are you laughing too?)

    My point here isn't to jab a finger in your eye and say "OH my GOSH how silly can this gal be?" because well if silly were an award Goodness Knows first prize would surely belong to me for licking the beaters on that mixer of the red velvet cake with the thing still plugged in and hitting the on button. Didn't know you could bruise a tongue did you? Me EITHER!! (are you laughing too?) My point is - leopards don't change their spots just because they write their Mom and Dad's letters at age 24. He's just going to be "more creative" - causing you to be "en pointe" and adding MORE stress to your already stressed out self. Seriously - it's not going to stop, he's just going to get better at it.

    A few things come to mind in dealing with thieves. First of all - you can remove the temptations - and you can confront them, but only in your place of business. This has become a very lucrative side-business for him. If you suspect he's gambling then THAT is the problem, but it is WHO's problem? His - (right!) You also have to really be honest with yourselves; talking you and husband here. First off - someone mentioned at 24 - he should not be living at home, if he is he should have RESPONSIBILITIES. Since he has none - he seems to have all this cash to "go play with." Essentially - he's his own worst enemy. You could throw him out - today - but well, I'm not in that camp of extreme tough love. I like - camp - "YOU work for me...I suspect you are stealing, and I'm ..........

    1.) Going to get a safe for all my cash - you do not get the combination - it will be emptied nightly, deposits will be made.
    2.) I'm having a professional nanny-cam installed that live-feeds to my lap top at home and points DIRECTLY at the till. I'm not telling you. And YOU will never see the invoice for the work.
    3.) I will have Secret shoppers come in with marked bills - and I swear by God Almighty - if we sit home and see you pocket the cash? YOU ARE OUT ON YOUR KIESTER SO FAST? I'll even bring your bags with me - I'll quote professor Snape "TURN OUT YOUR POCKETS." then hand you your possessions.
    4.) Before I enact rule 3 - WE WILL sit down and make out rules and consequences so you KNOW we are SEVERELY sincere in our NO THEFT policy. WE may not call the police (your choice) but - you will be out of our house and I will have a locksmith on SPEED DIAL - 24/7 - you will get bus or cab fare to the local Mens shelter which we will ALSO have on speed dial. Yup it will stink - YUP we will go through with it. Steal from me once - shame on you -----Steal from me twice - OUT YOU GO.
    5.) As per the rest of our contract. And you can amend this depending on your own feelings.....At 24 - You will pay YOUR portion of the rent, utilities, and food. THIS DOES NOT give you ANY (repeat) ANY rights whatsoever to EMINENT DOMAIN in MY HOME. This gives you the right to a bed, lights, water and food we buy. OUR HOME OUR RULES APPLY. IF as parents you want to "sock" his portion of the paid amount away and hand it to him later? Do so - if not - Use it for Cabo. (change the locks after he moves out to his own place on a pre-determined date)
    6.) What IS that pre-determined date? (name it, write it, stick to it)


    7.) You and husband.........GET THEEEEEE TO A THERAPIST.........ASAP. Start openly talking about your guilt----WHY you still allow a 24 year old MAN......to RUN YOUR LIFE.....RUIN your life........and CONTROL YOUR WORLD.......make you SLEEP IN A LOCKED ROOM......WHAT DOES HAPPEN WHEN YOU THROW (if you want to put that word out there) MAKE THEM LEAVE OF THEIR OWN ACCORD BECAUSE THEY WILL SIMPLY NOT ABIDE BY THE HOUSE RULES YOU SET WHICH ARE NOT THAT STINKING DIFFICULT AND CERTAINLY A LOT LESS COMPLEX THAN THOSE OF A LANDLORD, or society.....(sorry not mean to yell but they really push buttons) .......ahem.

    8.) No seriously - GET A THERAPIST and GO......both of you - it will FELL SOOOOOOOOOOO FREEEEEEEEEEING.........FREE.............FREEEEEEEE I tell you...........WONDERFUL LIBERATING..........You'll think you hit the parental lottery and get tips from an expert on how to level the playing field and deal with this "intruder" -------your son. AND it (oh really) HELPS HIM BECOME A MAN.......(slaps hand over mouth) OMG - he's NOT a child.....you DON'T have to feel SORRY for him because he's OMG dyslexic. THERE IS HELP. AND YOU CAN GIVE IT TO HIM - even 24 years later. Honest to Pete. I swear it. And .......it will NOT.........kill......either of you.

    The knife to the throat? DRAMA. The last time my son did that? I grabbed a bigger one and said TRY THIS ONE.......I mean honestly. He pretended to swallow a bottle of pills. I had an ambulance come and get him - and refused to ride with him. The ambulance drivers and EMTs were like???????? WTH? I said - "JUST TAKE HIM......pump his stomach or whatever.....I mean IF you get him there on time.....He wants to die so bad....I see no reason for me to get there quick, fast and in a hurry - Know what I mean? guys?" and we got to the ER about 1/2 and hour later to a child that was refusing charcoal, making the doctor mad, and got a 72 hour hold, and a LOT of attention. There are -----ARE true and serious cases so I'm not making light of it - I've just had my share in my life with threats of it. The last person to tell me they wanted to take their life with a knife? I went and got a machette....and chased them with it.....yelling - "I just want to help - hacking bits out of trees.....and "well I thought you wanted to die?" ----kinda takes all the drama out of it when the person who wanted to die is screaming - STOP STOP - you're scaring me!" I mean how scared can you be? You wanted to die? Insert horribly concerned face......and confusion. I just wanted to help.

    I hope in here something makes you know - that YOU are going to find the warrior Mom inside of you - that has a voice (although I pray it's not with a machette) and realizes how absolutely WONDERFUL of a person you truly are. YOU did not mess him up, or over-protect him. YOU RAISED a child that had choices. He has a choice EVER SINGLE TIME he opens that drawer and takes a dollar bill - and puts it either in his pocket and out of your business that you've worked y;our life for - OR in his pocket/greedy/uncaring/lazy/ungrateful/as if it was owed to him......and slaps your face - because you're already giving him SO much. I know kids his age that would literally cry for the chance to have a week of what he's being given and he really takes advantage of you and your husband. Perhaps it wouldn't be such a bad thing to know what a good thing he really had. The only people that can make that happen in his life are you. The only WAY that is going to happen is if you make some changes. The only way changes are going to happen is if YOU and husband make some committments working with a professional who can GIVE YOU the 411 and insights - because there will be FALL OUT - and you're going to need some answers - and solid professional knowledgable ---here's our whole story kind of answers ---and you're only going to get those I'm afraid from a therapist that knows you, husband and the whole enchilada.

    again - just my .03 cents worth ----and do not fear the jungle knife ------I was so far away from her....lol. Such a drama queen.......but she's never threatened to kill herself since. I think she's 1/2 afraid her Mother will call me. lol. that and she went to therapy.

    Hugs & Love - and understanding.....
  19. justtired

    justtired New Member

    I ordered all those books.. and am looking forward to reading them.

    Thats the point that we're at now.

    The husband is a mush and so easygoing, and he's pooping in his pants at the thought of telling son the list of demands. But he's standing strong and will do it. He's making me laugh because he's walking around the house practicing his 'speech' .
    I'm really surprised and delighted at how we've both come together to deal with this. Before this my husband would just leave it up to me.

    I checked into GED classes and have a place son can go to for free. Aside from stopping stealing we're going to insist that son get his GED.

    Son is still allowed to work in our business with our other son, but isn't allowed to collect the money or checks.. and from now on we're going to keep the records of how customers are paying. In case that sentence is confusing.... Our other son who doesn't live with us used to keep track of any customers that owed us and checks that we received and would then hand the checks and cash over to my husband.

    and in Nov. son will be re-added to husbands insurance (it's free and we didn't know until recently that son could still stay on husbands insurance) anyway, we're going to insist on counseling. Nov. is so far away though.. and I don't know if he'd even go. Thats on the list of demands, but we don't and can't enforce it so it will depend on sons' future behavior on whether he's allowed to stay here or not.

    I'm concerned about getting played too. But since this is the first time that we've ever made demands on our son, and the first time that dad is getting involved we're going to give it a shot and see if it works. We're going to watch him like a hawk though because we don't trust him.

    This is his last chance and that's what he'll be told. He's got to get his act together or get out.

    I've been thinking back and realize that my son walks all over me. Yes, it's taken me this long to realize it. He brought in a cat last year and I told him he couldn't keep it because it pees all over the basement. A hundred excuses later, and the cat is still here peeing in the basement which son cleans up thank goodness. I think he knows he can walk all over me because I've never enforced any threats I've made, and I've never had my husband back me up on anything. I always felt like I was a 'single' parent living with my husband. I'm really hoping that since my husband is involved now that my son will realize that this is serious and we're not going to back down.
  20. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Well, bravo, justtired. It isn't easy to change years of habit, to start going against the grain... More power both to you and your husband. And less power, perhaps, to your son... ?