18 answers

How to discipline a 15 years old teen stealing money from parent

My husband and I just noticed that our 15 year old has been taking money out of my husbands wallet to use for lunch. This is the ONLY time he is taking the money, so do I still consider this stealing?? We have noticed money missing here and there for about a month, so we finally set a "booby trap" to see if it was really happening.

How exactly do I go about talking to my son about this?? He is certainly old enough to know that this is wrong, so I am not planning on being "nice" and say "don't let this happen again". I can only imagine the excuses I will hear when I talk to him about this (teenagers are GREAT at excuses!!)

Thanks for any feedback/suggestions you may have!!

What can I do next?

Summary

Certainly be straight with him, tell him that you noticed money missing and that you know he has been doing it. Let him explain himself. Tell him that you consider this stealing and that it is not to happen again. Decide on a proper punishment.

So What Happened?™

First of all, Thank you to all for your concern and suggestions!

I did confront him about the money situation. He actually said something to me before I approached him. I knew for a fact that he was taking the money for lunch because we had an arguement/discussion over it a while back-- which I did not mention in my previous post. He was to be responsible for his lunch..either he was to use his own money or make it himself and bring it to school.
That is when the money started to be missing. PLUS, I would see the receipts in his pockets and the change he had matched the receipt!! Believe me, I know what teenagers are capable of...I remember when I was one :)
Again, I appreciate the feedback. but I didn't appreciate the feedback telling me that he WAS NOT using it for Lunch and NOT to believe my own child!! I just wanted to know in what ways I should confront him and what to say.
Not every teenager at 15 is doing/buying drugs and/or alcohol.

Anyway, he is paying the money back, feels horrible knowing that he has been "stealing" and doesn't want to be known as a theif. He was afraid to ask myself and my husband for the money because he knew he was to be responsible for it.

Thanks again!!

Featured Answers

I give my son 10. at the beginning of each week for lunch... he has to make it work.. the 10. or he makes his lunch or does some chores. He likes lunch in school.. so it seems like he is helping more and more around the house so he can take a few dollars more to school. he helps empty the dishwasher, and clear the table. and he takes the garbage out to the street. he is 12... lunch usually cost about 3.50 a day or 4. so 10 doesn't get him to far. good luck.. maybe you can help him out like i do with my son.

If he is stealing money he is probably doing something with it that you wouldnt approve of. DO NOT ignore it. Confront him and ask what he is doing with it. Talk to him about drugs, including alcohol and cigarettes and tell him you will not allow this behavior. Has he changed friends recently? Has his school work suffered? Is he more moody that usual? He is NOT taking it for lunch. Dont believe him and good luck.

More Answers

Heck, my kids would forget to ask for lunch money or
we would forget. So if we were still asleep, they
would take it out of our wallet. I think they would
usually let us know. It was for lunch so never thought
a big deal. Now if they were taking 20s that would be
different, but $1.50, not a big deal in my book.

1 mom found this helpful

I agree wholeheartedly with the writer Ellen E. A teenager may want special little things like music or games and I think he/she should use an allowance for such things but your basic lunch or meal should be paid for by parents...at least until their 18, while in school and living at home. Then at that point more can be expected from them. If there were specifics in your situation we don't know about, sorry.

1 mom found this helpful

Maybe there's more to the story than you've written, but giving your son the benefit of a doubt, it's a good thing that you already sound positive your son is taking (not stealing) money for lunch. ( Thank God, not drugs!) So, why are you setting up a deliberate confrontation with him? ("booby trap.") Wouldn't it just be easier to sit down with him, and have a nice honest talk, and also listen to him?...a two way conversation, not a screaming match. Then maybe you could say something like he'll be given allowance lunch money at the start of each week? (or on a daily basis?) Also, how about the good feeling of pride for him to have a small after school job to earn his own pocket-money?...either with home chores, or as an introduction to the outside business world? (At the same age, after school, our kids earned their own pocket-money, part-time, at Burger King / Dunkin Donuts, etc, which from time to time, my husband and I also contributed to their earnings, as an acknowledgment/reward for all their efforts...and also keeping their grades up in school at the same time. I'll be thinking of you, good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Aren't you giving him money for lunch? He's a kid. He should not have to be responsible for paying for his own food as long as he is still under 18 and living with you. I can understand telling him he has to buy his own cd's or video games, etc. These are not essentials. I can understand you want to teach him responsibility. But food is a basic necessity that a parent should provide for a child. Teenagers (as I'm sure you are well aware) are biologically not good at getting up early. He is probably too tired in the morning to make his lunch and then ends up taking money because you are not giving him any. I think very few teenage boys are responsible enough or can remember to make their lunch the night before school. You don't want to set him up for bad behavior. If he prefers to buy lunch at school, make sure he has the money to do so. Certainly be straight with him, tell him that you noticed money missing and that you know he has been doing it. Let him explain himself. Tell him that you consider this stealing and that it is not to happen again. Decide on a proper punishment (take away privileges, grounding,etc) and have him pay it back.
I won't jump to conclusions like many other posters did. But if after discussing it with him and making sure he has enough money for lunch, you still find money missing, then this is indicative of a bigger problem that needs to be addressed, like using it for something illegal or that you would not approve of.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi J.,
I have a teenager too. I definitely consider taking money without asking from someone else's wallet, anyone else's, to be stealing. Certainly it's not acceptable. I see from your follow up post that he was supposed to be responsible for his own lunch - I was wondering why he did not just ask for lunch money. If it were my teen, I would have given consequences for this. Going into someone else's wallet isn't acceptable, and at 15, I'd be very upset with my teen that this was his chosen method of dealing with not wanting to make/bring lunch and not choosing/wanting/budgeting to spend his spending money on school lunch.
I would definitely have had my teen pay the money back that was taken and I likely would have had some other punishment involved - I don't feel that repaying the money is punishment, it's restitution. The way that I parent and discipline, there would have been punishment as well.
The thing I'd be most anxious about in this case is if the teen thinks it is okay to take money from mom or dad (or knows it is not okay but does it anyhow), would they eventually get to deciding they could steal from someone else in some other situation.
Good luck and hopefully this will never happen again. I hate to say it but I think that at some point during our kids' teen years, they will do something that we aren't happy about!

Talk to him before you get too upset. Do you give him lunch money? If he is given lunch money and still taking it out of your husband's wallet, then you have more of a problem. But if he really needs lunch money .... well?? I would say just talk to him. Tell him you will give him X amount of dollars for lunch for the week and that is all he's getting so use it wisely. Then follow through.

If he is stealing money he is probably doing something with it that you wouldnt approve of. DO NOT ignore it. Confront him and ask what he is doing with it. Talk to him about drugs, including alcohol and cigarettes and tell him you will not allow this behavior. Has he changed friends recently? Has his school work suffered? Is he more moody that usual? He is NOT taking it for lunch. Dont believe him and good luck.

Hi J.,

I'm a little confused. You say your son is taking money for lunch. How do you know it's for lunch, especially if you haven't talked to him? Aren't you giving him enough money for lunch? If it's for lunch, why doesn't he just say "Hey dad, can I have a few bucks for lunch?". Or are you saying my son has permission to take money out of dad's wallet for lunch, but has been taking out more than the allotted amount?

Unfortunately, small amounts of money missing here and there are the beginning signs of trouble. Is it possible that he may be drinking, doing drugs, gambling, or even taken up smoking? You may want to do a little "spying" before you have a talk with him.

If you're 100% sure it's your son who's taking the money (not your other son, one of their friends who frequently visits, etc), then you and your husband should sit down with him (make sure his brother is not arround). Before taliking to him, you and hubby, should both be in agreement about how you're going to respond to some of the excuses he may present, and what type of punishment.

Then straight out ask "We've noticed that there is some money missing, we also know you're the one who took it, please explain to us why you took it and what you're using it for." Take it from there.

Good luck and please let us know how the talk goes.

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