Help, I am at the end of my tether and ready to divorce my husband of 4 plus years. His 19 yr old son lives with us and constantly steals from us. My husband gives him no consequences, his worst to date was stealing $1,000 dollars from his employer. I am starting to hate them both, son for no conscience, husband for no clear action, I am finding both pathetic and it won’t be long before I throw both of them out.
It sounds like a really sad, difficult situation to be in and I can understand your anger. You do have my sympathy. But I do think you need to see it from your husband’s and his son’s point of view if your going to find a solution. Children don’t steal from their family simply because they want money to buy things. They steal for two reasons. One is they are trying to fill a gap in their lives. The other is that they are angry with and trying to punish the people they are stealing from.
In your short letter, I can see several reasons why this boy may feel tremendous loss, and tremendous anger. His original family, with his birth parents, no longer exists, whether because his mother has died or his parents split up. He no longer lives with his mother. He now lives with his father and a stepmother whom he may welcome, like and want to accept, but had no choice in the matter – and children as well as adults feel powerless and overwhelmed and a need to hit out when dramatic things happen in their lives over which they have no control.
He has issues that really, really need discussing but I suspect have been swept under the carpet. In effect, his stealing is a very loud demand for help…and what happens? His father ignores it, either out of guilt, fear or simply because he’s more focused on his own needs than his child’s. And you want to throw him out.
The boy has a conscience. What he doesn’t have is adults with an appreciation of his feelings and an insight into why he may be behaving this way. In my experience, bad behaviour is about bad feelings. Explore, understand and deal with the feelings and you will take away the reason for the behaviour.
I strongly suggest you and your husband ask for some support and help and some guidance in working with his son to address his issues, and yours. if you are in the UK, you could find a counsellor through your own GP. Or go to Relate. Look in the local phone book for your nearest centre or go to www.relate.org.uk . They also do phone counselling – call 08451 30 40 16 for an appointment. Or the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy can suggest a counsellor in your area. You can ring them on 0870 443 5219 or write to BACP, BACP House, 35-37 Albert Street, Rugby, Warwickshire CV21 2SG or go to www.bacp.co.uk.
You might also like to contact Parentline Plus. Parentline is on 0808 800 2222 and it’s free, confidential and open 24 hours a day every day of the year. You can write to them at Unit 520, Highgate Studios, 53-79 Highgate Road, Kentish Town, London NW5 1TL or go to their website at www.parentlineplus.org.uk to read or download a range of helpful materials, or contact them by email. They offer a range of support from one to one phone counselling to phone conference calls with other parents and face to face courses – managing the after effects of family break up and the issues surrounding stepfamilies are themes they often tackle. If you are elsewhere, I suggest using the internet to seek counselling help in your own area. Good luck!