Kid-ery: When You Catch Your Child Stealing or Lying

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | January 30, 2013

Has your child ever lied to you? Has your son or daughter ever taken money from your purse or wallet without asking? Were you surprised, angry or hurt? When we are lied to or have something stolen from us by our children it can feel like a betrayal similar to adultery— I’ll call it kid-ery. Lying and stealing go hand in hand; one covers up the other.

First, it helps to remember there is hardly a human being alive today that hasn’t taken something at some point in their life. I was about nine-years-old when I took a small tchotchke with a serenity prayer on it from Woolworths, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” I didn’t need that little what-not but I loved the sentiment so I plopped the 29¢ treasure in my pocket. Like my incident, there is not always a reason or a need for kids to tell a lie or steal— they don’t think about it and just do it on impulse. Most kids do not require professional therapy. Most only need a consequence and a discussion to end the problem of kid-ery.

There is one thing in common in most instances when a parent has discovered a child has stolen something or lied to them— the emotions go haywire. It is easier to accept theft or lies from another, rather than our own flesh and blood. With my anger-rage temperament I delay any reaction to almost anything to keep my children safe. Stealing and lying was harder for me because I felt strongly about both and taught the kids early not to do either early on. When one of my daughters took a small mirror at about age seven, I was stunned, “How could you?” I had visions of her in handcuffs and an ugly orange suit with a rap sheet as long as your arm. I marched her back to the store and turned her over to the security chief saying, “She’s all yours, Columbo!” He asked her why she took the mirror and explained she could have gotten into a lot of trouble. He also explained that when she took something like that mirror without paying for it, it makes prices go up so your friends and neighbors are now paying for the mirror.

My example was the same as my daughter’s but she was unlucky enough to get caught. I had the little serenity prayer for many years but I never looked at it that I was not reminded of the day I took it. These examples are the norm, the kind of kid-ery most parents experience.

There are other kinds of theft and lies that are much more problematic and should not be confused with kid-ery. In my Parents Anonymous group we often talked about problems we were unable handle ourselves as parents. In those instances we always say to bring more people into the problem; therapists, psychiatrists or other professionals. Compulsions or addictions require orchestrated responses in order to get kids back on the right track.

When my daughter took the mirror I was careful to watch her when she might be tempted. I questioned unfamiliar things that turned up. Trust is built up again over time but like a fisherman I was ready to reel her in if need be.

How would you handle it if you found your child taking things and lying? Do you have a plan in place for dealing with this when it happens? Let us hear from you.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

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About Jackie Saulmon Ramirez

Jackie has volunteered for more than twenty years for children and family issues. Currently she writes for parents in the "Reminder" and "Parent Rap" Facebook page. If you are interested in receiving the "Reminder," send her a message.
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