I’m a senior woman living alone in the home I’ve been in for 40 years. My husband passed away years ago and I have my grandkids stop by periodically to help out around the house.
Lately, I’ve suspected one of them has been taking money out of my wallet. I know my memory isn’t what it used to be, but I just have a feeling I’m missing some of the spare cash I keep around. It isn’t much money, and I love all my grandchildren so much for helping me. I’m not even sure which one would be taking the money and I definitely don’t want to pit them against each other. Should I just stop worrying about it?
Stealing from a family member does happen in even the best of families. It usually happens during the adolescent or teen years, but can be a problem with adult family members as well.
The reasons for stealing from family can be many. They might rationalize that they were just borrowing something and plan to give it back, even though they never seem to get around to returning the items or cash. Or, they may act on feelings of entitlement wherein they think you owe it to them. Low self-esteem might drive them to steal, or it can be an expression of anger or aggression toward the person they are stealing from. Other reasons can run deeper such as a personality disorder or drug addiction. In time, it may become evident that the thief is the proverbial “bad seed” in the family that will always skirt the borders of legal versus criminal.
There are many reasons why a family member will steal from one of their own, but taking another persons property without their permission is never acceptable behavior.
You ask if you should stop worrying about a grandchild stealing from you? No! If you have proof, and even if you have a strong suspicion that they are taking your spare cash, you need to speak up. Tell their parents and together set up a plan for confronting the grandkids.
Lying and stealing run hand in hand. A liar is often a thief, and a thief is always a liar. The definition of thief is a person who uses stealth (acts with secretive, sly, and sneaky behaviors) to steal another person’s property. Have you caught the grandchild you suspect in lies?
From what I’ve read on this, if the child is still a teenager or adolescent, a strong reaction by the parents and adults can turn this around. Educate them on the problems of trust this creates in your family. Require that they make reparation, “pay back” the offend party, and set consequences. Take away their privileges or make them volunteer time at a Senior Center to remind them of how they stole from their Grandmother. A strong reaction to the thieving is your best course of action for turning this behavior around.
The thing that those who are stealing may not always realize is how this impacts the family. The ones who have been stolen from feel emotionally hurt and betrayed by the theft. Other family members will also begin to mistrust them. This creates an environment of mistrust, disdain, turmoil and insecurity in a family.
It’s a terrible thing to have people in your home that you don’t trust. It creates a dilemma where you have to decide, every time they are in your home, whether or not to try and trust them again. Or, just keep things simple and put your valuables under lock and key. It’s not the relaxed way anyone wants to spend time with family.
When the involved party is an adult, the issues usually run deeper, and sadly, the life lessons may not have been learned. If the thief is an adult, look closely at their personal habits, relationships with others and work history to see if there is a glimpse of hope for them to stop their thieving and lying. If you don’t see hopeful signs, protect your property in any way you see fit, and don’t worry about what they think of you for doing just that.
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- Do you think addressing this could help your grandchild?
- How might you involve the parents, how do you think they will react?
- Are you willing to feel uncomfortable in an effort to confront this issue, or would you rather lock your valuables up?
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