I have custody of my 10 yr. old granddaughter. She gets good grades in school, is polite and mannerly and helps me around the house and with the animals. She has a good disposition for the most part and seems to be happy and fairly well adjusted. Considering neither of her parents are responsible enough to take proper care of her. Her mother has drug/alcohol problems and as far as I know at this point in time is married to a convicted sex offender. We have no idea where she lives. Her father, my son, does keep in contact with her, but really doesn't want the responsibility of the child, and pays very little or no child support.
The problem I am having is with the child stealing and lying. She takes my things, like makeup, clothes, etc., takes food without asking and hides the 'evidence', usually in her bedroom. When I notice things gone/missing, I confront her and she lies about taking it. She eats regular meals and snacks every day, so I know she is not going hungry. I have tried talking to her about taking things without asking and then lying to me. She knows stealing/lying are wrong. I am at my wits end over this behavior. Neither of my two children would have thought of doing such a thing. I have sat down and discussed this behavior with her over and over, and she promises she won't do it again. But she continues to do so. I have had the child off and on since she was 3 yrs. old and got legal guardianship/custody of her in 2005.
I hope you can guide me as to what steps I might take with her to stop this behavior.
I went through this with my daughter as well. She would steal toys from my sisters house or stickers from her teacher. Food was also a big deal with her. I have a very strict routine in my house because one of my children has adhd and I find if we dont stick to it she begins to act out. So that means 3 meals a day at the same time with a snack after school and one before bed. Yet she would get up in the middle of the night and steal things from the kitchen. It was normal things either, quite frankly im surprized she didnt make herself sick at time. She would take and eat a whole box of snack cakes, a full bunch of bananas, one time she even ate a half a loaf of bread. There is no way she could have been hungry.
I know this sounds harsh but after many talks with her, myself, my sister. Punishments, restrictions... nothing was working. So I finally took her to the police station and explained the situation to an officer. The officer was glad to have a talk with her. He explained to her exactly what stealing is and that it is no different if u steal from a store, aunt, or home. He explained the repercussions that come along with stealing for children and adults and why she doesnt want to go down that path.
I was worried to do this because it did seem so harsh but beleive it or not. She listened to him. We had been trying to get this stopped for over 3 years and nothing worked. As soon as I brought another adult into the situation, that was not a parent but she respected, she became humble and took his advice in a heartbeat.
I dont know if this is an option for you, maYBE not a police officer but perhaps another adult that she respects... teacher, pastor etc etc. Good luck
Mojorisin, I think you deserve kudos for your idea to do that. That is wonderful advice. I was thinking perhaps she's taking the makeup because she is at the age where she wants to wear makeup or maybe she's simply hungry for a snack but she's afraid you'll get upset. It must be difficult to know your parents don't give a rat's behind about you. My husband is 25 and is a wonderful husband, hardworking and dedicated father and yet the fact that his parents abandoned him still hurts him to this day. In fact, we had a discussion about it the other day (because he wanted me to be more of a sister to my younger sister - she and I don't get along well), and I could see the tears... from a tough man who doesn't easily show emotion to others - including myself.
Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that although she seems to be adjusting well, I'm sure her heart is just torn to pieces and she just needs a good talking to. I'm not trying to accuse you, you sound like a very loving grandmother but she may feel she's a burden to you. She may feel that you take care of her and love her although she's not really your responsibility. She has been dumped someplace where she may not be wanted... believe me, those are the feelings she may have regardless of whether you smother her in kisses and hugs or ignore her completely.
Talk to her and see how she feels, try to get to the bottom of WHY she's doing the things she's doing. Tell her you love her regardless and will always be there for her but there are other things she can do to get the things she wants. I hope this helps, I wish you both the best.
From your post, I'm not sure of you are fully appreciating the depth of pain and psychological difficulty her parents have caused her. She is very lucky to have you. But your son and her mother have likely caused her serious psychological problems. She may be angry and questioning her worth for having been repeatedly rejected and abandoned by two parents. She has emotional needs that aren't being met by her biological parents and she may be trying to get her needs met (in maladaptive ways) by stealing. She needs to deal with what's happened to her in her life and to come to terms what this means about her as a young person developing into a woman. Does she talk about her feelings about her life and parents? My advice is run, don't walk, to a good counselor for her before puberty sets in and bigger problems ensue. The "scared straight" approach described above work doesn't work with many children and don't seem appropriate in this circumstance. Good luck and bless you for being there for her.
I have a very similar problem. I have seven grandkids. None of them has ever stolen. In fact two of my grandsons lived with me with their mother for years and they never stole anything. My 10- yr old granddaughter has been stealing from me for about 5 years. If she's not stealing,she is getting into my Chrystal cabinets(where I keep crystal items,delicate collectibles) or other things she knows not to touch,breaks them,and then clumps them back on the shelf never mentioning this to anyone. I only find out after she's left and I'm dusting. She has stolen from her cousins,including cash(when I have them all over for the weekend)items,and last weekend she went into my jewelry box and stole jewelry. Every summer my husband and I take the older grandkids on a pretty expensive beach trip. We almost didn't let her go last summer because of this behavior. But I buckled. But this year after the jewelry stolen,I really don't want to take her and make my point clear to her that there ARE reprocussions to her actions. And make a believer out of her.
We have tried everything with her. I don't know what to do.
The other problem is the parents. They will not let the other granddaughter go if the one that steals doesn't. They think we are picking on her. Every time we tell them what she has done,they yell at us,and she gets off Scott free.
Yes, they are irrational in more ways than one. They even act jealous at times at the other granddaughter who is a really good girl and has never given us any problems. I am at my wits end. But I know I must do something,but I don't think the other grandkids should have to suffer at her expense.
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