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Am I unreasonable for how I am handling my daughter being accused of stealing?

302 replies

magsel · 06/09/2022 19:09

I share a daughter with my ex wife. She lives with her mum about half the time. My ex also has a stepdaughter through her husband. The stepdaughter and my daughter do not get along.

Around a month ago the stepdaughter lost her Nintendo switch. She has blamed my daughter for stealing it to get back at her for calling her names. My ex has since searched all over her house and through our daughters things for to switch and has been unable to find it. She is now convinced that our daughter has hidden the switch in her bedroom at my house.

I am unconvinced because my daughter is a really bad liar. She has a lot of tells and breaks down very easily when caught lying. When I asked her about the switch she was very insistant that she does not know what happened to it. I did not see or hear any indication she was lying. So unless my 11 old daughter magically became the best actress in the world within the past couple days I sincerely doubt she stole the switch.

Still my ex is insisting that I let her search through our daughters room at my house or search the room myself. I however find that to be a massive invasion of privacy. I tend to think about it from the point of view of when I was a kid. I would have felt violating to have my things searched through. It’s not even like I hid anything suspicious or wrong I just wouldn’t have wanted my stuff rifled through. Based upon how upset my daughter was after her mom did it at her house I imagine she feels the same. I am of the personal opinion that it is only okay to go through my child’s things if I have reason to believe they could be doing something dangerous or if I have proof beyond shadow of a doubt that they did something wrong. Her stepsister simply saying she stole the switch is not enough proof in my opinion.

Things escalated from there and my ex then gave our daughters switch to her stepsister until hers showed back up. A few days later when I went to pick my daughter up she grabbed the switch and quickly got in my car (I didn’t know about this as she had it in her backpack). When I got home my ex called because they found out my daughter had taken her switch. My ex was irate and demanded I bring it back. After thinking about it I refused to because again she had nothing other than her stepdaughter word as “proof”. Therefore I found her punishment unwarranted. Since I was the one who paid for our daughters switch I saw no reason for my ex to demand it be given to her stepdaughter.

After that my ex started taking away our daughters allowance. We normally take turns giving her her allowance every other week. My ex decided that she would be taking away our daughter allowance on her weeks and giving it to her stepdaughter until she had enough to buy a new one. So in return I decided to give my daughter her double her allowance on my weeks.

My ex now says I am undermining her parenting by making decisions without her, but she is also making decisions without me and I think her punishment is unjust. Especially when her stepdaughter did not receive any punishment for teasing our daughter. Obviously things have gotten out of hand, but I’m not sure what else to do because my ex is absolutely convinced our daughter took the switch and is refusing to budge or talk about it. It’s quite odd because normally we coparent very well and rarely have any issue.

OP posts:
GoldenGorilla · 07/09/2022 08:01

Searching her room proves nothing though (unless you find it!)

If you tell ex you’ve searched and it’s not there, that’s not the end of the issue because ex can still believe that your daughter stole it and dumped it at school/in a bin/gave it away etc etc.

the bottom line here is that your ex believes her stepdaughter over her own daughter.

your daughter is being punished indefinitely for something she may or may not have done, because her mother just thinks she’s a liar.

i would honestly be asking your daughter if she wants to be at your home more.

at the moment she’s spending half her time in a home where she has to share her room with a girl who has teased her, her mum doesn’t trust her, she’s “in disgrace” with no way to prove her innocence. That sounds really toxic.

maybe suggest to your ex that your daughter could stay with you for a while to “give everybody a break and some time to calm down” and then see how that goes?

Folklore9074 · 07/09/2022 08:01

I’m with you OP. Don’t go through your kids things sneakily. My mum did this to me around your DDs age. Completely broke the trust in our relationship. I kind of think that you shouldn’t have made up her mums allowance contributions when that stopped, it is undermining her a bit, but everything else sounds spot on. You either believe her or you don’t. The rest is your ex’s parenting/home life issue to resolve. Maybe keep the switch at yours though if it’s something you bought her.

Folklore9074 · 07/09/2022 08:02

Also, yeah, maybe her staying with you till the dust settles at home would t be a bad thing. Just a week or so to give everyone the space to cool off.

bjjgirl · 07/09/2022 08:09

I think you need to weigh up the damage this situation/ this break down in the relationship and hostile living situation is damaging your daughter with the impact of you searching her room without her there or doing it with her.

You have the power to end the suffering of all parties and you are not stepping up. Yes you did not create this situation but as the parent you should suck it up and so the right thing for your dd

Bollindger · 07/09/2022 08:09

A Switch needs the internet, so just check to see what has logged into your home internet.
Yes it also shows any past devices.
Then get your ex to check at their house, if she block the missing Switch it might suddenly show up, because i bet not being able to use it will help .

bjjgirl · 07/09/2022 08:10

You can frame it as look I really want this situation o be over for you, let's search your room together / sort it out / deep clean and then we can prove to your mother

WillPowerLite · 07/09/2022 08:12

Don't search your dd's room. The chances of it being there - even if she did steal it - are slim. And you will have invaded her privacy for no good reason.

Your ex should be working to mend the relationship between her dd and dsd, which means not irrationally taking the side of dsd. Dsd does not claim to have seen her take it. Dd denies she has. The room was searched.

Ex needs to explain to dsd that given no proof and dd's denial, the harassing accusations against dd need to stop. Then ex and her dh need to sort the situation between the two girls.

Your home should be a haven from all that crazy. Your dd needs a dsd-free zone.

bjjgirl · 07/09/2022 08:12

It's not about point scoring but resolving the situation and preventing the breakdown of the mother / child relationship with is imperative at this age

dressupinyou · 07/09/2022 08:14

magsel · 07/09/2022 06:09

I have to say I am rather disturbed by how much many of you would secretly or forcibly creep through your children things in such a situation. It's such an alien perspective to me, but it certainly gives me something to think about.

I wouldn't search it in secret but I would say to her that to sort this once and for all, you both need to go and look through her room or she can leave you to do it. Either way she knows it's happening there and then.

Tell her you trust her and believe her but it's not going to settle down until you do this.

Her reaction would be quite telling for me. She might be pissed off but if it's more than that, is she hiding something?

I think if you haven't you should also look at her phone. All parents should be regularly checking their kids/teens phones, with their knowledge. It's part of your duty to keep them safe and know what they're up to and whether they can manage that responsibility.

GinUnicorn · 07/09/2022 08:18

To be honest this situation sounds awful for your daughter sharing with someone who teases her and being accused without evidence. Could you suggest she comes and stays with you for a while. If she did take this (and I am inclined to agree there is zero evidence of this) then perhaps it’s a symptom of unhappiness.

I also wouldn’t search her room. The disconnected from the internet is a great suggestion without violating anyones privacy.

BadNomad · 07/09/2022 08:19

Searching the room doesn't mean turning it upside-down. You can look without trashing place. As much as you don't want to believe it, your daughter does lie, she has a troubled relationship with her stepsister, and she's has proven she can be defiant, so you really can't know for sure that she didn't take the Switch. Undermining how her mother parents her in her own home is not the way to coparent.

SteakExpectations · 07/09/2022 08:19

I don’t think this situation can move forward until your daughters room has been looked through. You need to be able to tell your ex that you’ve searched the room and haven’t found the Switch, but at the same time can’t lie about it just in case you DD does have it and it comes out later and you then are made to be the Bad Guy. It could also be that the other girl planted it on DD or hid it in her things so that she has it without knowing she has it, if that makes sense.

I think the most probable outcome is that the Switch is lost in the girls’ bedroom at your ex’s house and they just haven’t looked properly - or it’s broken and has been hidden purposefully and this is now a lie that’s got way out of hand.

I had a family thing when my DS was small where he was accused of lying by someone who knew full well he was not the thief. We even wondered whether they had sold the item. It was very upsetting although whenever things go missing now we joke that “maybe DS has stolen it” or “it’s probably with the other item”.

If the Switch is not found in DD’s room, you need to speak with your Ex about drawing a line under the whole episode and how to make DD’s visits with her mum enjoyable and to stop punishing her for something she hasn’t done. Depending on her age, I might also have a chat with DD about how you’ll always have her back etc

SleeplessInEngland · 07/09/2022 08:22

A Switch needs the internet

No it doesn’t.

clarrylove · 07/09/2022 08:29

The reasonable thing to have done would have been to search your daughter's room without her knowing.

vivainsomnia · 07/09/2022 08:39

OP, if your daughter was begging you for giving her £300 to order a new console and you said no, getting her to have a rant and be upset, and the following morning you found £300 missing from your wallet, wouldn't you assume she's stollen it and go and check her room?

There's a difference between the girl going to a friend's house, taking the switch and then insisting that she brought it back home and it's now missing to having never taken it out of the bedroom and it is now missing.

I really would want to know the detailed circumstances that makes her mum so sure it is her.

Washermother33 · 07/09/2022 08:40

OP whilst itis admirable that you respect your daughters privacy this issue is only going to escalate and have a negative impact on your daughter if you don’t go through her things . Personally I’d discuss it with her and explain why you are doing it rather than being sneaky

billy1966 · 07/09/2022 08:45

Bollindger · 07/09/2022 08:09

A Switch needs the internet, so just check to see what has logged into your home internet.
Yes it also shows any past devices.
Then get your ex to check at their house, if she block the missing Switch it might suddenly show up, because i bet not being able to use it will help .

That is an excellent suggestion.

OP, I think the time to look at asking your child would she prefer to spend more time at yours has arrived.

IMO any woman moving a man and his daughter into her home, necessitating a bedroom to be shared, cannot have her childs best interests at heart.

Absolutely awful.

You need to seriously read up on MH issues in teens, because your children is ripe for them, combined with damaged self esteem, anxiety, and super high stress levels.

In your place I would arrange for her to be seen professionally, independently of you both, to see how she is doing and get a frank assessment of her state of mind.

MH is a fragile thing.

She has experienced her parents marriage ending and a stranger that she doesn't get on with, foisted on her, into her bedroom just as she begins

I would describe this in non clinical terms as a clusterfxxk.

Take this very seriously and you may swerve huge heartache for you all.

I would strongly recommend that you do not introduce anyone new to her for a while.

She needs stability.

SleeplessInEngland · 07/09/2022 08:47

That is an excellent suggestion.

It isn’t - the switch doesn’t need the internet to be played. You need it to download games and, for a few titles, play others online, but in most cases it’s perfectly playable offline.

Shodan · 07/09/2022 08:51

I would suggest to your ex that rather than worry about the switch, she should concentrate on the fact that the SD calls your daughter names and that our daughter doesn't like her or sharing her room with her.

I would also suggest that your daughter spends more time at your house until that matter can be resolved.

I suspect the SD has lost or broken her Switch and is blaming your daughter.

billy1966 · 07/09/2022 08:53

SleeplessInEngland · 07/09/2022 08:47

That is an excellent suggestion.

It isn’t - the switch doesn’t need the internet to be played. You need it to download games and, for a few titles, play others online, but in most cases it’s perfectly playable offline.

My bad.

No switches here.


fabfifty4 · 07/09/2022 08:56

A lot of posters have asked, why would she snatch her own Switch if she had already taken her SS, but she wouldn't be able to use her SS's Switch without outing herself. She's hardly going to whip it out and use it at her Dad's house after swearing that she hasn't got it! Personally I would just search her room - not secretly, but as another poster has said, explain that it's to clear the matter up once and for all.

Honeysuckle9 · 07/09/2022 08:56

magsel · 06/09/2022 23:04

@JustLyra it's just lies about silly things. Like saying she finished her chores when she didn't. That doesn't seem out of the ordinary to me.

Aside from the reasons I gave. I'm more of innocent until proven guilty and searching her room feel much more the opposite. I wouldn't think it okay either for the police to search someones home just on the word of someone else either. To me it just seems so absolutely morally wrong in this case.

Well that just parenting really isn’t it.
I don’t like at all how your ex has behaved in being so adamant it was your DD .

However I think you digging your heels in when it comes to searching her room is only adding to the drama. 11 year olds can lie and steal and if she has done this it’s best to find out now and nip it in the bud.

PurpleWisteria · 07/09/2022 08:57

There is no way your DD should have been forced to share a room with a stranger. What was your ex thinking of?

She needs her own room, you should insist on that.

WhatNoRaisins · 07/09/2022 09:01

The room searching would be very different if you suspected she had something dangerous, that's when safeguarding would have to be the priority over privacy. It's not really the case here.

diddl · 07/09/2022 09:03

I can barely believe what I'm reading.

Your ex seems pretty convinced doesn't she?

Giving your daughter's switch away & giving her allowance to her SD?

That's really nasty.

I'd find it hard to forgive my mum for that-even if I had taken the bloody thing.

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