Stealing (long post)(4 Posts)
Although I've been reading posts on this site for ages, this is my first post, but I had to write about my experience of my ds stealing from me.
I have 2 ds 19 and 16 and dd 12. I am now divorced (split from kids' dad 5 years ago) and 3/4 years ago realised that my eldest son was stealing from me - initially notes from my purse over a long period of time, always denied - and then he took to withdrawing cash from the ATM with my card, either v late at night or v early morning. It was about 2/3 months before I realised and then it was only due to the unusual amounts he took out - larger than the sums I withdrew. I was horrified that he could do such a thing - initially assumed my card had been cloned, but was told by the bank security dept that it was very often someone in the house/close to home doing this sort of thing. Of course as soon as I suspected it was him, I cancelled the card and had to start taking my purse to bed with me (!) and hiding it so he couldn't help himself. I also started keeping all my notes in my pockets. On one occasion he took £40 out of my jeans pocket in my bedroom while I slept! I confronted him as soon as I realised what had happened and he denied it. He finally confessed when I said that the police would investigate (CCTV footage etc) and that when they decided to prosecute, I would not be able to halt the process and he would have to face the consequences. He had taken approx £800 altogether from my account and this was money I was saving over a period of months for us to go away on holiday!
I made him pay me back by doing chores around the house, mowing the lawn, painting the kitchen and hallway etc.
I discussed what had happened with his Dad, but at around the same time, a large bundle of cash (£500) which his Dad had been saving over a period of time (in a box on top of the wardrobe, no less!) went missing and my son stupidly posted a photo of himself on facebook with his gf holding a bundle of notes with a red band around them, just like the bundle that had disappeared at his Dad's house. (Incidentally, his Dad was saving up the cash to buy him a car for his 18th - ironic eh?)
So the stealing stopped, my son got a job at a paintball centre (very infrequent shifts), he took his A levels last year, didn't get good enough grades to go to uni, so his Dad had a word with a mate who is a director of a large engineering co in London, and he started work there 4 days a week on £18,000 pa, one year contract.
After he started work, I was hoping he would offer to pay a contribution towards the housekeeping, but as the months went by, no offer was forthcoming and each month he ran out of money before payday and kept wanting to borrow. He booked holidays with his mates/gf to go skiing etc and bought all the designer clothes he wanted so he could look cool and keep up with his (v wealthy) gf and mates. At one point last autumn he mentioned that he was thinking of renting a flat with a mate and I told him that would be an excellent idea (dreading the idea, but thinking it could be a short, sharp shock that he needed). When I discussed with him the fact that he was not making any contribution towards the housekeeping, he said he wouldn't eat at home, would do all his own washing (both of which he did) and that therefore he wouldn't cost me any money. I told him that I required housekeeping at the end of November or else. This is where I think I got it wrong ... When he asked how much, I said I thought that half what it would cost him to live elsewhere would be reasonable, ie £400/month. He takes home over £1200, so that would leave him plenty of spending money. My intention was to save this money for a uni fund for him, but I decided against telling him that as I knew he would say he could save it himself (apparently he has a savings account). He became very rude and abusive and the next few days were hell at home with an unbearable attitude etc. At this point I told him that maybe he should spend a few days somewhere else to think about what he wanted to do. He said he would move out by the weekend. He moved out to his Dads that weekend (last November) and has been there ever since.
I'm crying as I write this. I cannot believe that this has happened and I'm so detached from my son now. He goes to uni next month. He got a car for his 18th from his dad, which he hasn't used in a year (hasn't passed his test). He is the most selfish, ungrateful, arrogant boy and he's my son. I have made every effort to speak to him frequently while he's been living away, phoning every 2/3 days and meeting for lunch every week where I work. He occasionally stays at mine when its convenient for him and I told him months ago (and have said several times since) that he's welcome to move back whenever he wishes, but have made it clear that it would be on my terms. I told him last week that we all miss him and he seemed to find that upsetting and said he'd spend more time with us.
This is a horrible way for a child to leave home and a very sad situation for my other 2 dc, to see such a rift. I have explained to each of them why it happened and they seemed to understand - I didn't want them thinking that I'd throw my child out on a whim, but I'm sure his mates/gf/gfs parents etc have all been told a wonderful story about what I've done.
I'll never know if I did the right thing, but I couldn't continue living with the situation as it was - I had to make a stand, but what a price to pay.
raskolnikov some thoughts came to mind as I read your post:
Has there ever been any suggestion that your DS1 has aspergers? I'm not an expert by any stretch of the imagination but there is a strong thread of it in my family.
What comes across to me about the stealing is that while your DS may have known that stealing wasnt right, he doesnt seem to have felt that it was wrong. He does seem to have taken so many quite emotional changes at face value without really looking for what may have got to that point.
Your good intentions about the housekeeping seem to have been misinterpreted. I'll be honest that looking at it cold (without knowing the good intention behind it) £100/week is quite a heavy cost for essentially renting a room in a shared house.
It really does read that you have gone through hell with your oldest child. At the end of the day he is now an adult and must make his own path. You are keeping the doors open and that is all you can do.
Hi raskolnikov my eldest son is very selfish like you have explained and I think you did the right thing making a stand. My son grew up with everything he ever wanted and with good family values. I can relate to what you say. My son didn't finish his school education, refused to go to college etc etc. He also stole from us, took my bank card to. He has never paid keep either went to sleep at friends houses, seeming he would rather rough it than adhere to any rules. I have 3 other children and they can see what he is like and say he never puts his family first. My son stole money for drugs, named clothes / trainers.
I feel for you because I don't see my son much now and you are right it does seem a very high price to pay. I do think making a stand is the right thing to do though.
Hi GDP and lijaco
thank you for your comments, I have never thought that his behaviour could be caused by a particular condition - in many respects he is a good boy, loyal, caring,charming and helpful (when it suits him of course) but the whole issue over money really is beyond belief. My other 2 dc are both honest - I have explained to them both now (separately) what he did and why I couldn't put up with it - my other son understood completely because he was always having his best clothes "borrowed" and never given back/lost/claimed as not his in the first place; and my daughter told me he'd said to my ex's gf that her new tennis racket was his! So at least they have a clear picture of where we stand. Interestingly, he came over recently and heard the 3 of us discussing money and who owed what to whom and commented that we were all being very honest!! If only some of it could rub off on him...
He's stayed at mine a few times over the past few days - its been really nice having him around but i'm aware that the atmosphere is different, the other 2 watch us to try and guage how things are and he seems to be making an effort, so I'm very thankful for that. He goes off to uni next week and I'll miss him very much - I have all sorts of hopes for him regarding his relationships at uni (friends, staff, gfs etc) and hope and pray that he turns things around to be the son I can be proud of.
GDP - I've often thought I handled the "housekeeping contribution" badly, but was getting really frazzled at the time (divorce going to court etc) and just kept thinking how to get him to save rather than keep spending....
lijaco - I really feel for you losing touch with your son - its so painful when you've tried so hard, I think we just have to put our faith in time and hope that a bit of experience and maturity will make them see what went wrong and that all you did was love them and try your hardest to get it right.
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