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My Son is 20 and Ever Since the Age of 14 Has Been Stealing From the House for Drugs

by Sophie

My son is 20 years old and ever since the age of 14 has changed from a lovable likeable bright lad to someone we don't even recognise. He started mixing in with the wrong crowd and his friends were a bad influence. He left the friends that were good because they weren't 'cool' enough and mixed in with boys that did weed.

We caught him stealing many times from this time and after lecturing him - telling him off, grounding him, taking his liberties away - he used to be good for a while then. But once we went back to normal he would have a relapse and we would find that he'd stolen again. I cannot trust him and do not leave money in my wallet because it goes missing.

Sometimes I want to hide and bury my head as I don't know what to do. When he's not doing weed he is fine ... a really likeable lad but he has a foul temper and almost changes his personality when he's doing weed. I don't know what to do - we have tried everything and today I found out that he stole valuable jewellry.

We've chucked him but now I'm sick with worry. He says he wants to change but won't do anything about it. This is the last straw for me. I don't know if I should call the Police and have him arrested just so that he can learn the consequences of what he's done? I need help to try and help him. I don't know what to do. Answer

Hi Sophie

You've hit the nail on the head - it's about creating consequences so that your son begins to understand if he keeps engaging in delinquent behaviors, the results are going to be unpleasant.

That's how we humans are programmed to learn - we fall, hurt ourselves, and then through the process of picking ourselves up again - we hopefully become better people through having learned from the experience. And often it means repeating our mistakes/falling more than once before the message really gets through.

So that's what you have to do for your son - and by kicking him out, he now begins to understand that if he wants to steal and take drugs, he's going to be held accountable for his actions. Because things like grounding and taking away things of value only work until a point, when your children become adults, those kinds of things don't have the same effect anymore.

And yes, you should call the police. Because your son is engaging in criminal behavior by stealing, and so what motivation will he ever have to stop if he isn't forced to face the consequences of what he's doing? Loving someone isn't always about protecting ... sometimes the best way to love is to force someone to face up to what they've done ... so they can learn to take responsibility for the choices they've made.

Of course it's a tough thing to do as a parent, because your natural instincts are to protect, but ultimately you're not helping your son by doing that. He has to realise he's an adult now, and that he has to take responsibility for the choices he makes ... and if those choices are bad ... he's going to have to deal with the consequences.

Good Luck

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