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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).

mumzy Fri 22-Feb-13 08:38:19

YABVU I suggest you try putting yourself in your dds position and just try to see it from her POV. As you say the stealing is totally out of character so you need to ask yourself why is she doing it. Did she attend a local school in HK or an international school? If the former I can understand why she wanted to return to Oz as the system and demands are very different. She is 12 years old and going through some dramatic changes both physically and psychologically and your suggestion of camera surveillance is so OTT. Sit your dd down and have an open conversation with her. You may not like what you hear but you may also find out the cause of her behaviour

sadeyedladyofthelowlandsase Thu 21-Feb-13 23:41:09

How'd you get on Mimi?

MercedesKing Thu 21-Feb-13 07:24:12

Totally agree with ll31, try to find out why and then solve the problem that might lead to the stuff, threats are not the good performance for any of us. smile

Astelia Thu 21-Feb-13 06:03:49

OP you don't seem to be showing any empathy at all. You say your daughter wanted to leave HK and move back to Oz, however a move is very stressful. Making new friends and trying to fit in, plus her father working away in HK will mean she will not know if she is coming or going. Even if she did want to move (ie was finding HK tough) that doesn't mean she isn't under a huge amount of stress.

Please be more gentle and kind. You sound so black and white and hard, and this casual insensitivity will be no help to DD.

I have two teens who are at international schools and have been dragged around the world. I am very aware that what DH and I say to them and how we treat them, in their last few years at home, will be remembered by them for the rest of their lives.

mathanxiety Thu 21-Feb-13 05:51:02

You have a nice bit of drama to share with your DH when you skype, and telling the school about what you suspect your DD has done would be more drama.

LineRunner Thu 21-Feb-13 01:19:06

I used to lie to my mother when I was 12 and older, because she is crackers.

ll31 Thu 21-Feb-13 01:10:59

op, can you say why you treat your daughter the way you do-it appears you cant be bothered to get up with her before school, harass her with texts, think of ways to humiliate her... i have son similar age,and i cant imagine behaving like you... So please, explain why your approach is a good one

StuntGirl Thu 21-Feb-13 00:35:39

I think the OP has been treated uneccessarily harsh.

I would stop with the texting though, its not a great way to communicate anyway, and especially not about this.

I would perhaps sit down with both children (since you don't know for definite it was your daughter) and explain that money has been going missing from your purse so you're going to have to take some action. Explain why you're keeping all money locked away out of sight for now, and that you won't be angry if the culprit is honest and owns up. Then leave it at that and carry on as normal. And let them come to you if they want to talk.

I suspect that, despite being a self sufficient learner in a good school she is simply struggling due to so many school moves, the pressures of having to make new friends, her parents living apart, missing her dad, just general being a teenager issues. Don't under estimate how much these things will have affected her.

aderynlas Wed 20-Feb-13 23:56:43

Try and remember that your daughter is only 12 op, and has faced alot of upheaval in her life. Have you tried just giving her a cuddle and telling her how proud you are of how she has coped with everything. Maybe shes just afraid to back down and admit she took the money, the more you threaten the more resolute will be her denial. She obviously shouldnt be taking money without asking, but all this secret camera, telling school etc is not the way to deal with your own child.

sadeyedladyofthelowlandsase Wed 20-Feb-13 23:52:59

This thread has made me feel very sad, so OP, I'll share something with you. Aged 14/15 I had massive upheaval in my life, that I won't bother going into now. I blamed my mum for a lot of it, was bloodcurdingly furious with her, wouldn't speak to her, ignored her, was rude to her. I was vile. I have reread my diaries from the time and cry to think how awful I must have been.

My mum, to her eternal credit, left me to it. She cared for me, she did stuff for me, but she never pushed me. The only thing she did was write me a letter when she was away which said in essence 'sadeyed, I'm worried about you. There's something going on in your life that I don't know about and it's making you unhappy. I love you, I want to help you. You don't have to tell me about it if you don't want to, but remember I love you and I'm always here.'

I'd love to say everything was fine after that. It wasn't. But just hearing from her that she loved me and worried about me made a huge difference to our relationship, and I did gradually let her back in. Now she's closer to me than almost anyone.

We had a chat about that time a few months ago and she said simply 'You were angry. No one thinks rationally when they're angry. But I knew you, and I trusted that you would find your way through. If I'd pushed you to talk, it would only have made you worse.' And she was right.

You really really need to support your DD through this. Don't push her. Don't punish her. Take the necessary steps to prevent further theft. Just support her. That doesn't mean unquestioningly supporting every decision she makes, just be there. It's a tough age for girls. It's important they get the right messages from other women around them.

freeandhappy Wed 20-Feb-13 23:33:24

Frozen sandwiches!!! shock will fit in nicely with the frigid regime I suppose]. Hello dr Freud confused. Girls this age need lots of love and support. It's a v delicate time. All the advice you're given and you pick up on frozen sandwiches!

steppemum Wed 20-Feb-13 23:14:04

mmmm I hate frozen sandwiches. I always shudder when people suggest it. Sounds like soggy corners. But then I like tomatoes and things on mine, so only fresh will do.

Mimishimi Wed 20-Feb-13 23:05:26

Freezing the sandwiches is a good idea, I hadn't thought of that - thanks

BlatantLies Wed 20-Feb-13 23:04:20

I don't understand the aggression on this thread. I think OP's idea to tell her DD friends about her stealing was off mark and sending the texts wasn't a good plan either but I don't read it that the OP is a bad/mean etc Mum sad

She has said she has been asking her DD what is wrong and I am sure she knows that communication is really important.

Could your DD earn some extra money?

Hope you get some more useful advice and hope you can work something out with your DD. Good luck.

Mimishimi Wed 20-Feb-13 23:04:02

Farbetternow: Actually I did the same with the forbidden woods/fields too. There was one in particular that was an ex-commune that I was told to stay away from but never did because it had toadstools and trees just like in The Enchanted Wood. [laugh]. I think they were concerned about left over syringes in the long grass and funnelweb spiders under the pine needles ( legitmate concern- the spiders are deadly). Ran away from home at DD's age too after a fight with Mum blush and rode my bike four hours away into a nearby valley from our mountain range home. Luckily a farmer who knew my parents recognised me and picked me up, let me ride his horses and clear out the sheds fort he rest of the day before ringing mum/dad to get them to pick me up.

searching4serenity Wed 20-Feb-13 23:03:03

OP - I see from your post that you are still really angry.

So is she...

Your approach definitely isn't working... !

Unless you can put the self righteousness to one side then she will not respond; the wedge between you will grow.

Some gentle honesty now could save a lot of heartache in the coming years...

Teenagers (ok almost a teenager) get overly dramatic about things... She's probably in a bit of a mess & just really needs you... But unless you prepare the way she will probably find it easier to live on a war footing than to cross this chasm...

loubielou31 Wed 20-Feb-13 23:01:46

I have no real advice about the stealing thing other than a proper chat with her, a chat, not a shout, and keep talking.
For the lunches, sandwiches freeze really well so you or she could make up a batch and stick them in the freezer so no one has to make them up in the morning. We have a stack of lunch box things kept in one cupboard so along with the sandwich It's more a case of pulling things out of the cupboard/fridge rather than having to chop anything other than maybe a piece of cheese but that's because I refuse to pay for prepacked cheese.

FarBetterNow Wed 20-Feb-13 22:51:15

I used to lie quite a lot when I was a child to try to avoid getting into trouble.
There were parks, fields and woods were my mum told me never to go, but of course I did.
If asked, I always, always denied going to those places.
If my Mum said 'but I know you are lying', I still would not admit it, because then I would have been in trouble for lying and in trouble for going to the forbidden places.
I swore on the bible once that I had been to Church, but I hadn't. I'd gone for a walk and bought sweets with the money.
Kids have funny logic!

magimedi Wed 20-Feb-13 22:43:31

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Mimishimi Wed 20-Feb-13 22:27:35

It's very reall, not a troll post. And I really don't see how I am being so awful particularly since the school and friends have not been contacted as yet. Last week when the money went missing, I did wait until she got back home from school to talk about it. And we did talk about it "please tell me if you need to take it and please tell the truth if I ask. ^ It's hard to talk about her feelings if everytime I ask her (calmly) why she felt she had to take it, she flatly denies doing so. She has said a number of times that she is so happy at this school and is glad we came back. They have a very strict uniform policy so there would no pressure in terms of clothes, jewellery or hair style. I wasn't up for the video surveillance, DH thought it was a good suggestion and something we should consider if it continues.. I'm not controlling with what she puts on her sandwiches ( and she has a variety of sandwich meats and fillings to choose from) or anything else she puts in her lunchbox. Given the obesity problem throughout our countries, if anything we do this because we care about her a lot and her health in the long-term, not because we are draconian dictators who question her every food choice. We do make muffins and biscuits about once a week. DD does not have a weight problem, a fair few of her school friends do and they do moan about it to her. She often tells me of her own accord that if she ate the things they did, she probably would too.

Yes, a security box does scream that I don't trust her and, frankly, the the moment I don't. I'm not laissez-faire with the wallet, I do expect her to ask me.If that makes me controlling and rigid, so be it. sad.

LadyBeagleEyes Wed 20-Feb-13 21:50:35

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ALMOSTMRSG Wed 20-Feb-13 21:48:20

OP, please don't put your Dd under surveillance. She will only learn to hide things from you.
I find your thread very sad. Your Dd has put up with a lot of change in the last year and the way you communicate with her is to send her threatening texts on her way to school. You should have waited until she was home and spoken to her face to face and given her the opportunity to open up to you. You might then have found out why she took the money.
Your punishments are totally ridiculous. No letting her do her homework. Really. You're sending out a message that bad behaviour means getting off doing school work. If that was my Dd's punishment she would be delighted. Let her know stealing is unacceptable, make her pay back the money, stop after school activities for a few weeks, give her extra household chores to do or ground her but please do not humiliate her in front of her friends.
You need to think about why she felt she couldn't ask you for the money.
I also think you should be up every day to see her off to school.
I suggest you get get a copy of How To Talk Your Teen So They Will Listen and Listen So They Will Talk.

Yfronts Wed 20-Feb-13 21:47:09

If you email all her friends you could be damaging your relationship with your DD long term.

fromparistoberlin Wed 20-Feb-13 21:45:45

think this thread is stirring up alot of bad 12 year old memories for some people clearly....

lets not leap to the worst as some fairly harsh comments on here, and it could be her DD is a nice, not bullied, very naughty girl?

OP I hope you can not come down too harsh, but also think some people maybe upset here as they had shit times when 12?? some lataral projection....

Yfronts Wed 20-Feb-13 21:45:40

Is unhappy about other things and behaving badly as a result?

In your shoes I would not email friends/school. I would make her earn back every penny through household jobs. Give her a list of things she has to do. Or even ground her?

Ask her what you can do together to change things and move forward?

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