I Think My Daughter's A Shoplifter | Parenting
Dear Dr. G.,
I am beyond humiliated and embarrassed. I recently learned that my oldest child -- a 15-year-old girl -- has been shoplifting.
A few months ago, I noticed that she was coming home with new clothing. When I asked her where she got the money to purchase this clothing she said that her friend gave her these items because they no longer fit her.
I accepted this answer. I had no reason to suspect that my child would do anything illegal and dangerous.
I began to get suspicious as the number of new items started to increase. My daughter who gets a nice allowance, and had previously been careful with her money, was coming home with lots of new makeup and several new bottles of nail polish.
I decided that I was going to sit down with my daughter and talk about my suspicions. Instead, I got a call from the police that my daughter was caught stealing from a local cosmetics store.
When I went to pick up my daughter ,she and I were both devastated. My daughter sobbed and told me that she didn't know what got into her. I have since taken my daughter to therapy, but I would like your opinion about why teens might shoplift.
A Concerned Mom
Teens, like adults, give many reasons for shoplifting. I will explore the most likely explanations for this behavior, but we must not lose sight of the fact that shoplifting is illegal behavior.
Here are some of the reasons teens have given me over the years for shoplifting:
1. They are bored.
2. They love the excitement and rush that they feel when they get away with something.
3. They are experiencing peer pressure and want name brand items that they can't afford to purchase.
4. They may have been dared by their peers to engage in this sort of out-of-character behavior.
5. They may be starving for attention.
Keep in mind, that in most cases, teen shoplifting is not a premeditated behavior. It is usually impulsive and based on a lack of good judgment.
Teen shoplifting is a nationwide problem and may be even more of a problem during the summer when teens have more free time on their hands. The National Crime Prevention Council has reported that 25% of individuals who get caught for shoplifting are between the ages of thirteen and seventeen.
As soon as we learn that our teens are shoplifting we must address the problem. Like other problems, the more entrenched it gets, the harder it is to treat. As parents, we need to be observant of what items our teens are bringing home and need to focus on teaching the importance of honesty and integrity as invaluable life ethics and values.
I am delighted that you took your daughter to therapy. Good for you for being an attentive mother.
How would you handle the situation?
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Barbara Greenberg and Jennifer Powell-Lunder are authors of the hit book, "Teenage as a Second Language: A Parent's Guide to Becoming Bilingual." They've set up an interactive website for parents and teens to listen, learn and discuss hot topics and daily dilemmas. You can find it at www.talkingteenage.com.