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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).

NopeStillNothing Wed 20-Feb-13 09:23:43

diddl The OP has said herself that the last few weeks she hasn't been giving any money to DD. From the post it seems to be either because she has been too frazzled from the move or because she doesn't agree with the food they serve so I'm guessing it may have been a conscious decision that has already been discussed.

As for dd being too lazy to make her own lunch, I agree with you this is unnacceptable but if it is not something she is used to doing it may feel like a punishment and a reason ( not an excuse though) to rebel

fromparistoberlin Wed 20-Feb-13 09:29:13

I agree with your DH

teenagers ARE lightfingered, and she is young still

punish her by all means, but dont humiliate her

Softlysoftly Wed 20-Feb-13 09:31:25

Erm talk to your child rather than raging and texting like one of her petulant teenage friends.

Text is not the way to parent and tbh I think you should still make her lunch at 12. I understand that she asked to do it and a bit of responsibility is fine but she's only just gone and settling at another new school.

You actually sound quite lazy in that you don't like making sandwiches and you haven't arsed giving her her lunch money for 2 weeks.

Sorry that sounds harsh and I disagree with dh that she shouldn't be stealing but the 2 friends that I had who stole from me both had problems at home. The is a reason and if that reason is she wants to buy lunch then I think you should compromise on some school lunches as long as she had a healthy diet at other times.

landofsoapandglory Wed 20-Feb-13 09:34:51

I agree with Floggingmolly. You cannot be so sure she isn't being bullied. My DC go to a nice school, they had to introduce a cashless system for lunches because of bullying.

magimedi Wed 20-Feb-13 09:37:14

I agree with softly - she shouldn't steal but I feel you are not handling this properly. And to tell her friends would be appalling & you will never have her trust again if you go down this line. Why not find out what she would like in her lunchbox & help her make it? Making sandwiches isn't that bad.

NopeStillNothing Wed 20-Feb-13 09:39:25

Yes also agree with * softlysoftly*

Hopeforever Wed 20-Feb-13 09:55:54

I think communication is the problem here, more than the theft.

You believe she is lying, she is unable to tell you that she wants/needs the money (or it could be her brother)

Does she have a parent awake and out of bed in the morning? This is a key time to need your parent about

I say this because

I stole 2p regularly from my dads spare change dish to buy sweets when I was ten. Partly because my mum was so ill and even though she was in the house she was unable to parent. My dad was so tired he found it hard to cope. It was wrong for me to steal, but it was a cry for attention. Sweets gave me attention at school.

My dad then left (not his choice) and my mum never got out of bed before I left the house to go to school. I hated making my breakfast and lunch on my own.

Your relationship with your DH may be fantastic, but if he is in another country, you have spent six months abroad, your DD didn't get on in her last school, you have moved recently, she has started a new school.........

Alarm bells ringing. Stealing is a sign of her stress, instead she could be self harming, using drugs etc, so stealing is the lesser of the problems she could have presented you with


steppemum Wed 20-Feb-13 10:04:03

Am I the only one who is wondering what happened to the rest of the money? She stole $20, and didn't make lunch that day. I am assuming one lunch doesn't cost $20, so where is the rest of that money? Because she then stole $8 on the next day that she didn't make lunch.

I am wondering what she needs the money for?

I stole form my dad when I was about 8 or 9. I sneaked into his room and stole 5p from the change on his bedside table. I did it to buy a packet of crisps on the way to school (yes, crisps did only cost 5p, I am that old)
It wasn't much, but I did it because I was the only one who didn't bring in a snack for break time. My mum would have let me take fruit, but everyone else had sweets or crisps, and I wanted the same.

If I had been caught, I would have been mortified. But if I had been 12 and done the same, I would have been like your dd. Yelling about how 'you don't trust me, and you are such mean parents anyway, and No-one understands me, and How come you assume its ME and not brother etc etc.' Because that is the way stroppy 12 year olds try to get away with it!

I think the key is to be the adult here. Be calm and be low key. Don't get into a slanging match. You and dh give her a united front. (even if he isn't there, tell her you have talked to him, and talk as if it is both of you.) Very calmly, we know you have taken it, we are disappointed. The consequence is xx (don't use homework). We recognise they may be an issue over lunches here. We will talk about that on Sat, until then, we would like you to think about they way you are treating the family, and the effect on our ability to trust you.
I would stop try to get her to confess, there lies constant confrontation. Just apply consequence.

coraltoes Wed 20-Feb-13 10:17:42

A 12 yr old could do with a mum being up before she goes to school.
A 12 yr old could do witha mum who cares about the why and not the what.
A 12 yr old could do with a mum who doesn't act like a kid herself.

mollymole Wed 20-Feb-13 10:21:06

OK so the stealing is wrong and you need to speak calmly about this BUT I do feel that you need to take a long look at your parenting here.
This child has been shunted around the world, changing schools and countries, living with both parents ? and then back to 1 parent ?

You stay in bed and she gets herself up and ready for school - you say that you used to give her leftovers from the previous days meals for her pack ups and she did not really like this - well why do you think she deserves leftovers.
She likes sandwiches but you can't be arsed to make them. She does not have access to fresh bread to make her own sandwiches. She used to have a bit of money to buy a luch if she wanted to but you withdrew this money.

IMO a major part of this problem may well by you - odoyou actually give this child any attention ? Have you asked her what her friends do at lunchtime so that she can join in with them?

TALK to the girl, don't rant and shout and text.

Emsmaman Wed 20-Feb-13 10:23:30

To the posters referencing school dinners/sitting separately from peers with packed lunch, can I please point out this is an English thing NOT an Australian thing. The canteen will most likely be a "hole in the wall" selling pies and other cr*p not a plate of proper food, and all kids will eat with their friends somewhere in the playground, on the grass or whatever. There is not this school dining approach sitting at tables and chairs like there is in the UK and there is absolutely no segregation between bought lunches and lunches from home.

SconeInSixtySeconds Wed 20-Feb-13 10:42:04

True emsmaman, but there is still significant pressure on dc from other dc to buy the crap.

been there paid the dollars for slushies

aderynlas Wed 20-Feb-13 10:44:44

Maybe it would be a good idea to sit down and have a chat with your daughter op. The texting, threats of punishment and demands for truth dont seem to be working. I agree with you that stealing is wrong but maybe you will be more likely to find out why your dd is doing this if you take the time to ask her whats wrong.

steppemum Wed 20-Feb-13 10:45:57

but emsaman, if all her friends are eating pies from the tuck shop and she has a lunch bag, that may be a issue of being uncool.

Op - I work with kids who have been overseas and are returning home. Although those children have been living overseas for a number of years, some of the principles will still hold true for your dd - we offered the whole family debrief sessions, we help the family to help the children with loss and change, differing expectations, adjusting back to home culture. They find that having lived away from home country their world view has shifted, maybe for example they have seen poverty and riches in a way they don't at home. They find that no-one at home wants to hear about their life overseas, so they have this huge experience sitting inside that they do not have any space to share, or anyone who understands.

You have said that her time in Hong Kong was mixed, with some bullying in school. Has she had any opportunities to process any of that? She put effort into making friends and now those friends are gone, and her friends here have changed while she was away and she has to do all the running to re-connect, because she is the one who was away.

Living overseas is a great experience, but kids often need help in processing it, and one thing they do (which my son did) is to throw them selves into being 100% british (in my ds case) and fitting in. But some of those issues are still there, underneath.

Please step back, take a deep breath and think about how you can work together as a family.

Pagwatch Wed 20-Feb-13 10:48:26

I do agree with many others on here.

Some kids steal because they are trying it on/experimenting/pushing boundaries.
Others do it or more complicated reasons.

Having a 'shouting match' with a 12 year old is a terrible abdication.
Sit her down and talk to her.
You may be worried and frustrated but you are getting no where and you almost ound like you are just retaliating rather than anything else.

VenusRising Wed 20-Feb-13 10:50:19

So she's the new girl in school. After a six months stint in another new school in HK.
She now in oz in yet another new school. Sounds like she's all over the place. Did any other of her friends come back from HK with her? Has she any friends at all.

Perhaps she's being bullied and having the money buys them off.

I think you need to ask why you are feeling so vindictive about her.

Why would you stop her doing her school work?
Why would you ruin her reputation in her new school?

What's wrong with you? And get up and help her in the mornings with a little more grace than I told you where the stuff is attitude - sit down and have breakfast with her- you're her mother FFS, not her supervisor.

Emsmaman Wed 20-Feb-13 10:50:24

I was just trying to clarify that there wouldn't be a physical segregation from friends, for the English posters. Yes there was peer pressure when I was at school to buy pies etc. Glad I didn't give in or I would have been the size of a house. FWIW mum used to make such lovely sandwiches some of my friends would swap with me smile

LadyBeagleEyes Wed 20-Feb-13 10:54:42

She's twelve.
You should drag yourself out of bed in the morning, even just to keep her company.
And your idea of punishment is just vindictive.

CheeseStrawWars Wed 20-Feb-13 11:20:06

OP - deep breath.

Imagine ten years in the future. Your daughter is 22. What sort of relationship do you want to have with her?

You are laying the foundations of that relationship now. You say she reacts with "snarliness" to you. What I see above is a lot of "snarliness" coming from your direction towards her.

It may just be part of the nature of your written word, but I see no concern her voiced from you about your child, only her behaviour. Behaviour is a symptom of stuff going on inside.

I know what you think you are trying to say to your child, but that isn't what she's going to hear. What she is going to hear is:

"I don't care enough to make you a lunch that's the same as your friends. I don't care that leftovers make you different. I don't care enough to make you a proper lunch. I don't care enough about your school work, and I don't think your success is important, so I will penalise your homework and punish your friend. I don't care that your friend will be angry at you. I want to humiliate you, because I can - I don't care how that makes you feel. I don't care enough to find out what the problem is or why you are stealing. I don't care enough to ask questions before I start shouting. I don't care that you've had a lot of disruption moving schools and that you don't know anyone, and that this is a difficult time for you. I don't care that I am hounding you with texts that you can't escape. I don't care that you are carrying around a constant level of anxiety wondering when the next text or 'showdown' is going to occur."

And behind this constant drip-feed of "I don't care..." is the message "...because you're not worth caring about."

You are feeding a massive insecurity monster entirely of your own creation.

For what it is worth, I suspect she's trying to "buy" friends, probably because she is so insecure she doesn't feel that people will like her for herself.

jessalwithlove Wed 20-Feb-13 11:34:00

This is actually a very very sad post to me, While I agree stealing is very wrong but like alot of posters I done this myself on my mum, You seem like a very intelligent woman and I cant understand why ur using this to find whys to hurt her more and humiliate her in School. I was sexually abused that is why I stole also because I had very little compared to my friends when it came to nice lunches etc and I didnt want to be different, Obiviously I sincerely hope this is not the case with ur daughter, I suspect its more she does not have what her friends have going from left over dinner to a sanchwiche was the hint, she felt different I know money can be tight but does she receive enough can she do more around the house to earn some, From what you say of her school work big changes shes been through she sounds like a fantastoic young lady just missing something. (I think her mum is probably alittle vindictive too with all the texting threatening, Can't you scrap the surface and protect her.. She'll get you back when shes a teenager and that will be a very negative relationship between you both.

VivaLeBeaver Wed 20-Feb-13 11:42:08

I have to say that staying in bed while your 12yo gets up on her own to get ready for school imho is not good. I'm not having a go, just saying.

I have a dd who is 12 in a few weeks, I get up every morning to get her ready for school.

fromparistoberlin Wed 20-Feb-13 11:42:18

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.

fuccccckkkkk! just re-read, please DONT do that

children pereceive theft (and how bad it is) very differently to adults

Pendipidy Wed 20-Feb-13 11:48:44

As above, very good post. You need to step back and admit that your parenting has been wrong , say sorry to her and change. No doubt she Will change too.

Pendipidy Wed 20-Feb-13 11:50:43

As above- i meant the post from cheesestrawwars

Astelia Wed 20-Feb-13 11:53:05

Excellent post CheeseStraw.

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