Ha, I can hear lots of you saying your kids would never, ever steal or lie to you but parenting isn’t all light, fluffy and nappy brands.
There are some really serious issues in the mix to deal with too. If we really think our wee precious is perfect, we’ve either got a living miracle on our hands or we’ve been blessed with the gift of a silver spoon and nannies take care of our rugrats.
Everyone else’s kids lie and they “borrow.”
The best outcome of this is usually catching them and being able to explain about ownership and rules and how other people feel if their things are stolen, but at the age of 2 or 3, it’s likely to fall on deaf ears and they just want to look at that shiny thing sitting on the table. It’s as if they’re hypnotised with a trailing finger wound around whispering tendrils of cotton wool drawing them closer and closer until they just have to touch.
What child could resist the lure of the white chocolate or the glittery pencil or Jeannie Broons new doll. Now when it gets to the tween and teenage years, they really should know better, only lots of them don’t. They watch it on TV, and they watch it on their games and they just want what other kids want or what other kids have. Add that to the hormonal lads and lasses they are turning into and it can be a recipe for mischief.
I have to say one thing though, it drives me nuts. Spending several years of my life with my handbag tucked under my elbow and having to rush down from wherever I was stupid enough to go and not take it with me only ended up in the loss of a note or two from my purse.
With a child who has foetal alcohol spectrum disorder, you quickly learn to lock your money away – all the time. Nobody will admit it of course and the guilty culprit is adept at finding hidey holes to squirrel my things away in, but it is getting better. The eyes that look you straight in the face without blinking and in complete denial totally confuses your own sense of decency and you begin to doubt what you actually did see. I can stand there knowing I saw him take something, and yet, I still have doubt placed in my mind as he can brazen it out with a barefaced lie and everyone will think he is telling the truth. Apart from me. I know him better now. Teachers think that because he can stand there in front of them unwavering and unflinching, that he is telling the truth.
How gullible and misled are adults to go by the teachings of behaviour gurus when those rules don’t seem to apply to many kids going through the hormonal stand-off? It’s not just my lad though, I’ve noticed it with lots of children in this middle class area of ours. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen kids in the local shop lifting things. I’ve mentioned it to the staff a few times and more or less got the glarey, poppy eye looking at me, so now I don’t even bother. I do, however, watch the kids beside me like a hawk.
I don’t think we should be surprised when we find out our tweens and teens are stealing or lying. I do believe that making a huge issue out of it only makes relationships go badly downhill. I also believe ignoring it totally makes the issue into one that they can take absolutely no responsibility for and just think they can go further and further and further – until it’s too late to do anything to help them. I remove the temptation as often as I can. If I know a child is likely to go for my money, I don’t allow them access to it – unless I am going through a senior moment and forget to lock up my purse. I know people who will leave a fiver on the mantlepiece for a few days to see how it goes and they’re seriously deluded specimens of the human race. I think it’s ridiculous to deliberately set out to make the kids fail in some sort of power struggle that would only end up with something like “I told you so, you would take anything if it isn’t locked down.”
We had too many rules and I’ve learned to relax some of them. I’ve also learned to slap myself in the face with the dishcloth to stop the accusatory words that are determined to come rushing out of my mouth each time I am disappointed. We can only do what we can. If we find out about it, we can take them back to apologise or even take them to a police station ourselves. I took one of mine to the local station when he took £40 from my purse. They were not initially helpful to start with. There was no way I could walk away with him after he had heard the desk attendant tell his mother that the police don’t talk to youths who steal. “I want him charged then,” strangely came popping out of my mouth. The desk jockey relented and fetched the sergeant through to talk to him about what happens if kids keep on stealing.
I found it very sad and demeaning to have been told that the police wouldn’t help. It’s wrong that we need to threaten to have our own kids charged to get a bobby to have a word in their ear. I think that owning up and taking responsibility for our mistakes is the best way forward. I’m not going to shelter them from that, but neither am I going to lose sleep over a stolen bar of milky way – we’ll just go back and pay for it tomorrow and most of the kids will grow into rounded, sensible, non thieving adults that we can laugh at when their kids start doing the same thing.