My daughter's friend is stealing items and money from our house. How do I get her to stop?
We were suspicious she was stealing and our family got left in charge of there house over the holidays. My wife looked in the girls room and found several items that belonged to my daughter hidden in the room, along with needles, etc... I don't know how to bring this up now that we know without a shadow of a doubt it is going on, but we found this information by going through her stuff while they were out of town. My daughters are 6 and 9 while this girl is 14. Money, games, etc... disappears when she is around and has a story as to how she recently acquired the exact same items we are missing. She has a past with stealing we have heard from her mother but we do not know if we should deal directly with the 14 year old or confess to her parents that we searched her room while they were gone and found all of our childrens things? I know two wrongs don't make a right but we did not want to accuse her without some proof and we had an opportunity to find out exactly what she had taken.
Thank you for writing to www.education.com to describe your dilemma regarding the neighbor girl who has been stealing. It sounds as if you and your wife have been self reflective and realize that searching your neighbor's home in their absence has crossed a moral line. It is doubtful that any good would come from revealing to your neighbors that you found stolen property in their daughter’s bedroom. More than likely, your confession would cause a great deal of mistrust and conflict which could overshadow the concern that their daughter has been stealing.
In answer to your question, it would be best if you were to first speak to the parents of the 14 year old. Because her mother is already aware of her daughter’s stealing behavior it would be best to alert your neighbors to the fact that several items have disappeared from your home and that you have reason to suspect their daughter was involved. Convey to them the conversations that have taken place that have caused you to suspect her such as the stories she has given as to how she has acquired particular items. It would also be appropriate for you to ask her parents if you could speak to their daughter directly. If you were to share your concerns with this teen (after receiving the parent’s permission) you could have a much greater impact. Be sure to preface your conversation with a statement that you are concerned about what has happened and want to help her in any way you can. Holding her accountable is an important part of helping her to make changes in her behavior.
When talking to this young girl, it is not necessary to debate whether she has taken the items. Avoid asking questions that will allow her the opportunity to be dishonest with you again. Indicate to her that you are not needing proof but that she must learn to ask permission, practice self control, tell the truth and to apologize to others when she has done something wrong.
Also, as a result of what has happened, it is important for you to begin to more closely monitor this young lady’s behavior both in your home and when she is interacting with your daughters. Even without the stealing and dishonesty, because of the several year age gap there really should not be any unsupervised play time between your daughters and this teen. 14 year olds have a different set of interests than 6 and 9 year olds. Make certain that if this neighbor is visiting that you are interacting with the children to ensure that the conversations and activities are appropriate.
Set limits on the amount of time she spends in your home and be sure to overtly check to see that she is not taking anything home with her when she leaves. It would not be inappropriate to ask her to show you her hands or to empty her pockets. Have her leave anything she brings into the home by the front door so as to make certain to keep her belongings and those of your daughter's seperate. In addition, talk with your own daughters to help them understand the importance of taking good care of what they own; to take note of their belongings both before and after this neighbor is in the home.
Hopefully, her parents will be appreciative of the information you share. Be aware though that they may not be receptive to what you have to say. Good luck with your situation.
I'm going through the same thing. I have decided to addressed it with my daughter first and give her the option of dealing with it (confronting the issue) of leaving it to us which will mean banning her friend from our house. I would have addressed it with the parents before you went looking for evidence but that is the challange - to confront issues properly knowing relationships that are otherwise healthy can change. Now that you know, I would address it with the parents who you are obviously on good terms with and will likely change since you went through her room looking for evidence. But the decision is yours. Is it important enough. Probably still is.