My 10 year old daughter lies and steals money from her step dad, What can I do to make this stop?
I have a 10 year old daughter who lies and steals money from her step dad. This is the first time she has done this.We don't know how long or how much money she has actually taken but we think it's around a hundred if not more. She also lied to us about a bike she got for her little sister who is only 16 months old. First she said she got it in a auction, then she got it from a nabor, then she finally admitted that she stole it out of a garage near my house. So my question is how do I stop this and what do I need to do to correct this behavior. I've already grounded her for the rest of the summer til school starts but that just seems to make things worse and her biological father doesn't and hasn't disciplined her or her brother, but he is actually fine he doesn't act like this. My oldest child, my son is 12, and he has never acted this way. So why does one child act out but not the other. They both live with there biological father I just get them every other weekend. But I have them the whole summer this time. Could the divorce have anything to do with this, Did I do something to bring this on, I feel like the worst mother in the world right now, I feel like I failed her, please someone help me figure out to make this stop before it gets worse.Plus my husband wanted to send her straight back to her dad's house, I told him that is wrong, she is my daughter and I wont cast her out like that. But is he right is he wrong. Wont that just make things worse.
Thank you for sharing your story with the community. My heart goes out to you as you and your husband as you wrestle with the current situation. I know it must be terribly painful to see your daughter struggling with her choices.
I think that the feedback you have received thus far from the community has been spot-on. As Dadof2Teens suggested, I recommend that you use natural consequences to help your daughter understand the impact of her behavior. When she returns the bike to the neighbor, I think that she and the neighbor should also work out some form of compensation, as well. Maybe, she can mow their lawn once a week for the rest of the summer? And, have her work with her stepfather to devise a reasonable strategy for paying back the money that she stole. These approaches will cover the punishment and consequences piece of the situation, but there is certainly more work to be done.
As Xannie and Dadof2Teens suggested, this situation is certainly not your "fault." You and her father can't help the fact that your marriage didn't work out and the relationship ended in divorce. The two of you were doing the best that you could. That said, your daughter understandably will have reactions and strong feelings associated with the way things have unfolded in the family. Children tend to want their parents to be together, even if their parents being together isn't the best thing for their parents or their family. They often question whether they had something to do with the divorce and whether they are somehow the cause.
They are especially sensitive about relationships with each individual parent, and they can get pretty "territorial" when a new partner gets involved with a parent. Even though your husband has likely made a great effort and may even have foraged a nice relationship with your children, I think there is still a part of your daughter that is angry with him for coming into the family (she thinks: "now, there is even less of a chance that mom and dad will get back together!). I don't think it is a coincidence that the person she stole money from was her stepfather.
I don't think that it would be appropriate to send her back to her father's before the summer is over. She is clearly working through some strong feelings, and I think a part of her is "testing" her relationship with you. She is likely feeling insecure about her relationship with you and sending her back would unintentionally confirm to her that you don't care about her anymore (in her mind, of course). Make special time for just the two of you and let her know whenever possible that you love and adore her. It will likely be tough for a while, but with continued efforts to provide firm boundaries with a loving touch, your daughter will get back on the right track.
Laura Kauffman, Ph.D.