to threaten to tell her friends and her school?

(153 Posts)
Mimishimi Wed 20-Feb-13 01:38:49

We've had three incidents of petty theft with our twelve year old daughter recently - two suspected and one confirmed. She has only been openly caught in one - the first. My DH found her with money that she admitted, after lying about at first, that she took from her grandmother (!!!). It was the equivalent of ten pounds. She has come back to Australia to attend a selective high school here and some of her school friends are those from her selective primary class that she attended for 1.5 years.

Just over a week ago, I had twenty dollars go missing from my wallet. She had seen me withdraw sixty the day before. That morning she had woken up earlier than me and asked for lunch money, which I refused because she had time to make lunch. When I fully woke up, I asked her by text what she had taken for lunch and she said a sandwich - however, there was no evidence of her having made a sandwich left on the bench and she always leaves evidence. So I checked my wallet and discovered the twenty missing.I went over all my spending from the previous day to account for everything and was fairly certain that she either took it or that it fell out of my wallet, it was not spent. She denied taking it when I texted her and when she came home from school. Since it had been gusty the night before, there was a slight chance that it had blown out of my wallet (never had the problem before) so we decided to give her the benefit of the doubt after questioning her most of that day.

This morning was almost the same situation. She woke up at 6:15, I woke up at seven. When I woke up, she complained that there was no bread to make a sandwich so she had to make a salad. I went to the freezer and pulled out a loaf of bread (she knows to look there if there is none in the fridge). All there was on the bench were a container of lettuce leaves and no evidence of cut tomatoes, carrots etc. Two minutes later, at 7:05, she said "Ok, I'm going to go to school now" which is at least ten to fifteen minutes earlier than she usually does. I told her to wait and I went and checked my wallet. It was cleared out and eight dollars was missing. I still had the receipt from Monday evening for the twenty I gave the cashier in cash for $12.00 worth of groceries and I am certain it was in there still last night as I didn't buy anything with cash yesterday (it's Wednesday morning here). I asked her and again she denied taking it (in a very flat monotone 'bored' sort of voice which is the tone of voice with which she denied it last time). I told her to go but in retrospect, I probably should have done a bag and pocket search immediately. She has not answered my texts and has refused to take phonecalls from either myself or my husband all morning.This time I don't have much doubt that she took it and she probably did the last time also. There has been no hint of contrition from her, not even the first time, but more of a snarliness that she has been caught out. She genuinely seems to think she is entitled to the money.

I have already confiscated her Mac and she will have no access to the iPad, both of which she needs to complete a school project that she's been doing with her friend (who has been coming over in the afternoons) and which is due tomorrow (a video assignment which she's been recording with the iPad so the files are on there and she wants to edit it on the Mac tonight). I texted her that she will not be getting them back until she confesses and apologises. I also texted that if she refuses to do so by the end of the day, I will be calling the school and telling them that we are experiencing some petty theft from her. I really am genuinely concerned that if she can do it to her own grandmother, let alone us, she might do it to classmates. I then texted that if a confession and apology is not forthcoming by the end of the week, I will be emailing all the friends whose email addresses I have and telling them the same.

So this comes to my AIBU question. My DH is concerned that the last two threats might be going overboard and might permanently ruin her reputation for what is apparently a common problem with pre-teens and teenagers ( I can genuinely say that I never stole money off my parents although I did raid the lolly jar once and tried to lie about it - DH says he never stole money but his brother did). His suggestion was that I go to the school and threaten to pull her out of school for three days if she does not confess but I don't see how that would be effective? There is no shame involved in that for her and I could potentially get her into trouble for not sending her to school without an adequate explanation. Do you think the threats to tell the school and her friends are unreasonable?

More importantly, what on earth do I do about the stealing and the denial of it? She was a very truthful little girl, could be relied upon for it, and it's absolutely breaking my heart.. She does get pocket money and lunch money once a week although I've been a bit lax about it the past couple of weeks because we've only just come back from Hong Kong (where she attended school for six months to try it out).

ll31 Wed 20-Feb-13 07:45:46

also stop texting her all the time

GreatUncleEddie Wed 20-Feb-13 07:52:54

Do you want to get her name deleted from that last post?

Mimishimi Wed 20-Feb-13 07:57:17

No, not strapped for cash, more a health choice. Kids who eat exclusively from the tuckshops here are usually quite overweight. We'd much rather she take a sandwich, some salad, some fruit than eat a pie, chips and a packet of crisps. She has been allowed lunch money once a week up to now but I haven't given it the past couple of weeks.

She's home now. We had a shouting session for about two minutes during which she continued to deny and then she stormed upstairs.

diddl Wed 20-Feb-13 07:58:03

Blimey all this angst!

I agree with asking why.

But, hey she might just be doing it because she can!

If she´s being bullied because she doesn´t have money-that´s awful-but why should OP give her money just so that she "fits in"?

diddl Wed 20-Feb-13 08:00:55

Well I think that you have to let it go now & start afresh.

Don´t leave your purse where she can get it.

Give her whatever amount you feel comfortable with per week.

And she makes her own lunches accordingly.

fieldfare Wed 20-Feb-13 08:01:55

I don't think you ought to stop her doing her project, that's completely unfair to her and her friend. Stealing is a separate thing entirely to school and I think you should stop thinking in terms of humiliating her too. All it will achieve is alienating her and shutting down any communication you might have.

Ask her why she's stealing as you know it's her. Ignore any denials and discuss appropriate punishments and chores she can do to "pay it back". Also talk about any chores she can do to earn the money that she feels she needs.

TheFallenNinja Wed 20-Feb-13 08:12:12

You might try moving from being investigator / inquisitor / judge and jury and move the perspective.

The more you do this the more she will feel compelled to lie.

I'm not playing down the seriousness but the punishment of telling friends and teachers seems excessive.

You need as a matter of urgency find out where the money is going, confrontation won't get this info so you may need to tread lightly. I'm sure she understands that it is wrong and sure she feels ashamed but now may be the time to take the upper hand, get on side and help her deal with this.

Rehabilitation is the key.

I stole money from my mother once and she went down this road but after a good pasting with a dog lead she told my friends and school which gave me years of problems and I can say without a moments hesitation that because of this, she is the only person in this world that I truly hate, as soon as I was old enough I was gone and didn't go back. That was 30 years ago.

HollaAtMeBaby Wed 20-Feb-13 08:17:21

I wouldn't give her any punishments that could impact on her school grades . Think you should focus on waiting until she does it again (tempt her to do it if necessary) and next time don't let her leave home without a full bag/shoe/pocket search. Once you've actually caught her red-handed, you can deal with it.

Can't believe people saying that she is stealing because she is in "pain" and that she shouldn't have to make her own packed lunch! At her age this could be really serious if she gets caught doing it outside the home.

RedHelenB Wed 20-Feb-13 08:20:54

Can't you just give her lunch money instead of sandwiches ?

Mawgatron Wed 20-Feb-13 08:26:00

I was AWFUL at that age - mum calls it my black phase. Used to steal, fight with parents all the time, sneak out to meet older boys etc. I grew out of it, and have a brilliant relationship with my family now, but I used to nick things all the time. Oh, and I would deny it till I was blue in the face, and make up ridiculous lies if I got found out.
It sounds stupid, but the thing that stopped me would be when I couldn't get at mums bag. Could you take your purse to bed with you? I know you shouldn't have to, but it would work?
I know people are saying 'I never did that', but a lot of people did, and I do think it is a form of rebellion in some way. Don't despair, it will get better.

If its about lunches, maybe she feels silly taking in leftovers or manky bread? Can you ask her what she would eat in a pack lunch and buy it in each week?
Ds started taking odd bits of money and for us it was a wake up call that he needed an allowance. No more problems. And yes, he did get told off too.

I stole money from my mum too. I am ashamed of it now, but back then it felt like a little thing I could do to stand up to her as I had no control over any other part of my life. (Moving around, changing schools, clothes being bought for me etc).

There is such a desire to fit in at that age and if she is the only one taking sandwiches it makes sense to me that she would want money for dinners.

frogspoon Wed 20-Feb-13 08:42:29

She has been allowed lunch money once a week up to now but I haven't given it the past couple of weeks.

So a couple of weeks ago you stopped giving her money. And around the same time she started stealing money. Coincidence?

Poor kid. You made her move to a school thousands of miles away, moved her back as she was miserable, and took away her lunch money for no reason. She is now rebelling and you are threatening to tell her friends, alienating her from the people who are currently most important to her.

I think you need to get her to 'fess up, apologise, do her punishment etc, but after that is completed the lunch money also needs to be reinstated as a separate thing. Also, if you have taught her about good nutrition/ health she should not have a problem choosing a lunch that is both moderately healthy and cool. If she is having a healthy breakfast and dinner at home with you, a few unbalanced meals won't do too much harm.

diddl Wed 20-Feb-13 08:42:55

I would check that she is still wanting to take sandwiches & give a little money to supplement.

Here the "tuck shop" sells filled cobs, fruit & drinks.

Mine always took their own mid morning snack (home for lunch) or pocket money if they wanted to buy from the tuck shop or crap from the shops on the way home.

Amazing how keen they were to keep making their own snack/grab fruit to take rather than dip into their own money!

weegiemum Wed 20-Feb-13 08:51:42

My dd1 is 13, just! In first year of High School (in Scotland).

We came up with a school-meals plan that's worked really well (as it relies on bribery!).

School dinners are £2.50 a day for her. She can leave the school for the local area twice a week. So on Monday she gets £12.50 - enough for a school dinner every day. If she chooses to make a packed lunch, we're not asking for money back. She probably takes sandwiches 2x/week, eats out 2x/week and has a school dinner 1x/week. The money left over gets spent on a cup of tea from a nice wee cafe on the way to school, or a bag of crisps after school, or (more often than not) goes into her savings!

I didn't steal money from my parents but at 12 I was stealing food, my mum had recently run off and I was struggling. I don't think you should humiliate her, but I do think you need to find out what's happening. We've chosen to give our dd1 flexibility and accountability - would that work for your dd? And my 2 younger dc (ds is 11, dd2 is 9) are both still at primary (hooray, ds has a year and a half before High School) and both make their own lunch every evening. 12 is definitely not too young to be making a sandwich (in face ds makes an awesome bolognaise!).

VivaLeBeaver Wed 20-Feb-13 08:57:09

I stole some money from my mums purse at the same age. It was wrong and mum went ballistic but I didn't turn out to be a bad person. Mum did get a locking, metal box that she kept money in after that. And told me it was because she couldn't trust me. I think the shame I felt was worse than any punishment.

When I was at school though it was only the uncool kids who took in packed lunches. It was social death to do this. She may feel the same. Maybe she'd prefer dinner money, I know you've concerns about the health aspect of it but maybe consider the social side of things as well? You can talk to her about healthy choices, there must be some healthy stuff. You can't control what she eats all the time.

NopeStillNothing Wed 20-Feb-13 09:02:17

Doesn't sound too complicated to me. She wants to buy school dinners instead of making her own packed lunch. She either doesn't like packed lunch or doesn't like the fact that she has to make it. I used to be exactly the same.
From her perspective, she seems completely out of control with everything. She is being expected to 'grow-up' by moving place to place, suddenly making lunch etc. But at the same time doesn't seem to be given much choice.

Obviously she stole the money, obviously she shouldn't have. But the way she sees it, you have got money and you've suddenly stopped giving it to her. She is essentially being 'punished' for no reason. It's best to make these transitions slowly pre-teens are very delicate creatures.

diddl Wed 20-Feb-13 09:04:17

But if she wants to start buying stuff at school-why not just say?

TBH, if it´s because she cba to make her own, but would happily have it if someone else made it, I wouldn´t be too thrilled about that!

Floggingmolly Wed 20-Feb-13 09:06:37

Why are you so sure she's not being bullied? Her school being selective meaning they're "good" kids is a fairly ridiculous notion hmm

She wants school dinners.

I think you need to decide how big an issue it is to you because it clearly is to her. You sound as if you are telling her you don't trust her to eat sensibly - I'm sure she won't suddenly become obese from being given some choice in what she eats.

I like weegiemum's approach

whois Wed 20-Feb-13 09:14:17

You need to find out WHY she wants the lunch money.

Also, slight U of you to expect her to get up before you and make lunch alone when she is already going thru a lot of new stuff.

Make it together the night before or something.

The forcing a confession stuff is likely to backfire. And agree with others who say preventing homework or humiliating her at school are bonkers ideas.

diddl Wed 20-Feb-13 09:17:16

That said, she is only 12-I´d make lunch for her still if it would help.

ConferencePear Wed 20-Feb-13 09:18:30

I think you should just sit down with her and have a quiet and calm talk about what she would prefer to eat at lunch times. I think that you and she are looking at it from different perspectives. You are seeing the food; she is more likely to be seeing it as part of her social life.
Perhaps the answer is that stealing from you doesn't seem as bad to her as being 'uncool' would.
I think it would be kind to let her choose at least the majority of lunchtimes. If she's taking more than she needs for any given day I would wonder if she is buying things for other kids.
Many children find the transition to secondary school difficult and she has had to cope with a change of country too. She needs your help your help rather than threats which she probably thinks you won't carry out.

Coconutty Wed 20-Feb-13 09:19:17

A shouting match as soon as she got in won't help at all. You need to have a proper conversation along the lines of, I know you took the money, but what for? It sounds like you have moved around a lot, she may be having trouble fitting in. Also disagree with her having to make her own lunch. She's obviously very unhappy about something, can't you make her lunch for her or give her money instead.

Do all her friends buy lunch and she's the only one with a sandwich? I'm not excusing her behaviour at all but you need to find out why without threatening her with emailing her friends etc.

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