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7 Year Old Nephew Stole $400.00 From Us: What To DO? - Page 2

post #21 of 151
Quote:
Originally Posted by ~Megan~ View Post
A 7 yr old doesn't understand the value of money. He probably doesn't get that $100 is much different than a $5.

Cancelling a birthday party is quite severe and more than enough punishment, IMO.
I agree with this. I don't think that the fact that he didn't show a lot of emotion is atypical or some sign he is a "bad" kid. He stole 4 bills, which happened to have a large face value, but he may not really have gotten it until after the fact. Losing his birthday party is a big deal.

LOL, I just realized I'm repeating what others have already said. Anyway, it's not that you shouldn't be upset. I know I would in that situation. Trying to get kids of that age to care is hard. Maybe if someone could explain the value of money and show him how much of that money could make a difference. Maybe that is what they are doing with the birthday party, trying to put it in a dollar amount he understands.
post #22 of 151
how does taking away the celebration of a child's birth justice? You are in essence saying he is not worth celebrating. How devestating that must be for him.
post #23 of 151
I understand being upset, but I do think you are being a bit hard on him.

My son is 5.5 and recently took some money off the kitchen table .. I didn't even consider it "stealing" .. he had no clue it's value, that it wasn't his, etc.

I seriously doubt your nephew knew the value, otherwise I doubt he would be giving it away to neighbors! That in no way makes it ok that he took something off the counter that didn't belong to him .. but I wouldn't consider it stealing and certainly wouldn't cancel his b'day party. That seems so very harsh and punitive.

I definately think a good talk is in order .. we recently did the same thing with my son .. we explained the value, that we needed that money for groceries, and that he was NOT to touch money that was lying around. I doubt he will do it again, it was a good lesson learned, but we were not angry at all.

I'm glad you got your money back ($400 is A LOT of money!!) but I do think you guys are being much too hard on your nephew.
post #24 of 151
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Potty Diva View Post
how does taking away the celebration of a child's birth justice? You are in essence saying he is not worth celebrating. How devestating that must be for him.
I just wanted to clarify - we (myself and DH) did not revoke the birthday party. My BIL (nephew's father) did. We did not suggest it. I don't think you implied this, Potty Diva, I just wanted to clarify for others who may not have read all the posts. We will still mail a card and buy a gift like we do every year.
post #25 of 151
Quote:
Originally Posted by Potty Diva View Post
how does taking away the celebration of a child's birth justice? You are in essence saying he is not worth celebrating. How devestating that must be for him.
I agree. Taking away a B'day party just seems so wrong to me. Sure, he shouldn't have taken those bills, but I am willing to be money he had no idea what they were worth and taking away a 7 year olds party for that seems crazy to me.
post #26 of 151
It sounds like you care a lot for this boy. He is very lucky to have you.

I think everyone is right that he had no concept of the sum, but probably had a swiping urge. Now that things have passed, have you sat him down over a cup of tea and asked him what is going on? No judgements, accusations, just wondering what happened, what your concerns are and if you and he can reach an agreement of trust. Keeping a line of communication open is always important and will be more helpful than a house full of toys.

I wouldn't be worried about a life of crime because of this incident. I would be worried about more negative behavior due to the lack of connection between him and his own family. Offering yourself as a confidant, not just a babysitter, will be invaluable to him.
post #27 of 151
Quote:
Originally Posted by almama View Post
It sounds like you care a lot for this boy. He is very lucky to have you.

I think everyone is right that he had no concept of the sum, but probably had a swiping urge. Now that things have passed, have you sat him down over a cup of tea and asked him what is going on? No judgements, accusations, just wondering what happened, what your concerns are and if you and he can reach an agreement of trust. Keeping a line of communication open is always important and will be more helpful than a house full of toys.

I wouldn't be worried about a life of crime because of this incident. I would be worried about more negative behavior due to the lack of connection between him and his own family. Offering yourself as a confidant, not just a babysitter, will be invaluable to him.
I agree with this. If this were my nephew (and my nephew has taken money from me before) I would treat it matter of factly:

- that's my money, and I need it for rent
- we don't steal from each other in this family
- if you feel an urge to steal something, come and tell me about it and we will sort it out together

FYI I stole money from my parents when I was 12, and now I walk back to the store if they give me an extra dollar in change. It's not a sign of a life of crime. But he is having some kind of urge (one I think most kids experience, actually) and it would be nice if he could feel your love and willingness to be there for him when he does.
post #28 of 151
Quote:
But after the new baby came, he is just more interested on shoving his son off on me or grandma or my other SIL.
Could you say no? Tell your bil he can bring the kid over, but he has to be the one watching him because you aren't up to it and he's not ready to be unsupervised.

(And $2500 in cash isn't ready to be unsupervised either. I would never leave that sitting on the counter with kids in the house.)
post #29 of 151
Quote:
Originally Posted by phathui5 View Post
Could you say no? Tell your bil he can bring the kid over, but he has to be the one watching him because you aren't up to it and he's not ready to be unsupervised.

(And $2500 in cash isn't ready to be unsupervised either. I would never leave that sitting on the counter with kids in the house.)
ITA with this, and with what most of the pp's have said.

I have to ask, are you pregnant with your first child? I've found that my expectations about what I can leave lying around the house (and my expectations of children in general) have changed considerably since having my own kiddos and learning more about age appropriate behavior, directly and through more reading and discussion with other parents. Children are not rational adults, and all of the "I, as the adult, should be able to do X, Y, Z without worrying about the child doing A, B, C" theories just don't apply, at least IME. YMMV, though.

When I was child, I clearly remember my mother pressing me repeatedly when I did something wrong, wanting to know why I did whatever it was -- I didn't know. It was an impulse, and there was no way that I could explain it to her.

s to your nephew, and s to you. It sounds like you have a lot on your plate right now, and it's difficult to handle these things when you're stressed, working, and pregnant.
post #30 of 151
Quote:
This is the ONLY time during the course of this drama that nephew showed any emotion, which is a little concerning.

IMO, he is plenty old enough to know right from wrong and knows that stealing is wrong. He never showed any emotion about the situation until BIL told him his b-day party was cancelled.

Nephew is dealing with a new sister being born, and he is probably being ignored at home. I think he stole the money to act out in frustration.
Be careful, Mama. These are the kind of words I've learned to eat in my mama years.

My typical 7-year old wouldn't have a clue about the money. She also wouldn't touch it because that's the way she is. My non-typical 8 year old would have had some clue about how much money it was at that age but wouldn't really have "gotten" that it was wrong to take it. Out on the table? Community property. That's how their minds tend to work. I would have been upset. Even more that he took it (and now I'm talking about my own child) and didn't give it all back. That he shared it? Kudos to him.

It's hard. And 7 years old really is still a baby. In our long lives, these are the early early years, when it's okay to make mistakes and everybody still loves you, and that love is what helps us make better decisions next time. Don't get me wrong, I have very limited tolerance in my own children's misbehavior, but this wasn't misbehavior I don't think. It was a bad choice, then shame and fear probably kept him from further admitting to wrong.

I know you don't like hearing this but I agree with a pp who asserted that the money shouldn't have been left out. I find that most things my kids do that I dislike could have been avoided with a little foresight on the part of their parents. Yeah, it's your house, yeah, it's your money, but when we're sharing space, even for a little bit, we take care with our treasures. I certainly don't leave bank statements out when family members come over because I don't want anyone to have a clue about what we may or may not have. It's just too personal for me. And this is the same idea. Not that you put it up because you think he's a thief. You put it up because he's 7 and things are exciting and he's bright and curious.

Again, I agree with others. Love him. Hug him. Forgive him, and take on a bit of the responsibility so that his little shoulders don't have to bear it all.
post #31 of 151
DS is 7, and is still confusing nickels and quarters. I don't think he'd even be able to grasp that large amount of money, so for your nephew it was probably an impulse thing, more than anything else.

It's not okay, but I think it's normal for kids that age. Especially when they don't understand the value of something like that.

DS got $40 for his birthday, but he wanted to buy something that was $59, so we had to sit down with him and show him the numbers (he's not doing subtraction that large yet) so that he understood he didn't have enough for the toy. I could tell that he still didn't quite grasp it.
post #32 of 151
Quote:
Originally Posted by diamond lil View Post
As far as the money being on the counter - it shouldn't matter where the heck it was. It wasn't his and he shouldn't have bothered it.

Yes it does matter where it was. He's 7, he might bother things that are attractive even if they are not his. He's a little kid. Since talking to his dad worked in the past maybe you could try to get him to change his mind about the b-day party (even if it has passed maybe they could do a belated one). That is just so harsh and needlessly punitive. He probably didn't give the other $300 back right away because he was scared of getting in trouble. Maybe he even thought he could put it back later but your DH counted it and your nephew handed over the rest. It's really not a big deal. I wouldn't even call it stealing at this age.

I agree that it is not your job to be your nephew's babysitter, especially if you feel like his parents are trying to palm him off on you. That's not cool, but the little boy shouldn't suffer for it. Being firm with your BIL on this would make a lot more sense than leaving the kid to his own devices and then feeling upset when he pockets some very cool looking 100 dollar bills that you didn't take the time to put away.
post #33 of 151
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the replies. We did have another talk with him and I asked him what he was feeling when he took it (as a pp had mentioned). I suspected that he was bored, and I was right.

We decided not to emphasize the value of the money because he probably has no concept. I guess it doesn't matter if it was four dollars or four hundred. It's the fact that he was in OUR house bothering OUR stuff. It's not like our money was lying on HIS kitchen counter. We just wanted to him to understand that when he is in another person's home, he needs to respect their stuff. He agreed not to touch stuff that doesn't belong to him unless he asks first.
post #34 of 151
Quote:
Originally Posted by diamond lil View Post
He agreed not to touch stuff that doesn't belong to him unless he asks first.
I'm glad you spoke with him again, and clarified the issue. I would caution, though, that some 7 yos don't have the impulse control to keep this promise. He probably needs supervision to succeed.

I don't know if you can really separate out the value of money in this situation. Really, what are the chances that you (you, dh, and his dad) would have freaked out if he had swiped 4 pieces of junk mail from a pile? Or 4 pennies? 4 pieces of copy paper? 4 candies? He probably touches things that belong to others all the time, and no one ever freaks out. This time it was a Big Deal because it was money--and large sums at that. I think that issue should be explained to him.
post #35 of 151
Quote:
Originally Posted by Demeter9 View Post
I think that your level of expectation of what this is supposed to mean, and what he is supposed to understand isn't in line with reality. He shows you so - he merely gave away $100.00 because he likes his friend. It clearly displays his understanding.
I agree with this, and with the others who have said this is totally age-appropriate behavior, and that $400 to him is probably not much different than $4.

I am sad that his birthday party is being cancelled.
post #36 of 151
Quote:
Originally Posted by diamond lil View Post
Thanks for all the replies. We did have another talk with him and I asked him what he was feeling when he took it (as a pp had mentioned). I suspected that he was bored, and I was right.

We decided not to emphasize the value of the money because he probably has no concept. I guess it doesn't matter if it was four dollars or four hundred. It's the fact that he was in OUR house bothering OUR stuff. It's not like our money was lying on HIS kitchen counter. We just wanted to him to understand that when he is in another person's home, he needs to respect their stuff. He agreed not to touch stuff that doesn't belong to him unless he asks first.
Diamond, I think you are doing a great job of keeping an open mind while reading the responses.

Are you pregnant with your first? Even though I helped raise my sisters and spent quite a bit of time around children .. I've found my expectations have become so much more realistic after having a child of my own. Expecting a 7 year old to not touch things in another person's house is fine, but not all children that age have the impulse control to do that 100% of the time. I would caution against expecting too much out of your nephew, and instead, help him to be successful. Keep things he shouldn't touch out of his reach. Really, 7 years old is still very young and it sounds like he has a lot going on right now. Your love, understanding and compassion will go such a long way.

post #37 of 151
Quote:
Originally Posted by diamond lil View Post
We decided not to emphasize the value of the money because he probably has no concept. I guess it doesn't matter if it was four dollars or four hundred. It's the fact that he was in OUR house bothering OUR stuff. It's not like our money was lying on HIS kitchen counter. We just wanted to him to understand that when he is in another person's home, he needs to respect their stuff. He agreed not to touch stuff that doesn't belong to him unless he asks first.
I think this is going to be really confusing to a kid.

There are other things in your house that he can touch, yes? It's not a museum. He is allowed to touch some things. If ever he is in YOUR house, you should assume he will be messing with YOUR stuff. So how is he, at age seven, with the judgment he has at that age, supposed to figure out which stuff is okay to touch and which is not?

It wouldn't be out of line for YOU to apologize, explaining that you shouldn't have left such valuable things on the kitchen counter, where there is typically other stuff that's okay for him to play with (because I'm guessing there is), not to mention where it could get knocked off, spilled on, or lost.

When we deal with children, it is important for us to take on some responsibility for keeping them out of things we don't want them to have. Fragile things need to be out of reach. Important papers need to be safely put away. You can't expect a child to take care of these things for you, or to have no unfortunate accidents in the vicinity of things you don't want to see broken, torn, or drenched in juice (juice being the best case). YOU need to take care of YOUR stuff.
post #38 of 151
you really have been very open minded and kind in accpting constructive criticism and advice. i wouldn't talk him to death but it might do to explain that everybody got SO mad because it was very valuable and you forgot that he might not know that.

social rules are really really really complex. it's sometimes funny and it sometimes kinda hurts to watch kids struggle with learning them. when kids get to be about 4 it's common for them to yell that they don't love their parents. they're just trying to figure out how to express anger and they overshoot. it's just hard to know how to help them and strike a balance with discipline.

also sounds hard to take care of someone else;s kid so much. you are around them enough that you need to do some discipline but their parents are the decision makers. worth it, but tough.
post #39 of 151
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MeepyCat View Post
It wouldn't be out of line for YOU to apologize, explaining that you shouldn't have left such valuable things on the kitchen counter, where there is typically other stuff that's okay for him to play with (because I'm guessing there is), not to mention where it could get knocked off, spilled on, or lost.
You have got to be kidding. I would have apologized if I had come over to HIS house and left $2500.00 laying on a kitchen counter. That would be out of line. And no, it is not OK for him to play with ANYTHING on my kitchen counter. It is not a play area.

At 7 years old, he needs to learn how to develop good judgement of what he can and cannot touch IN OTHER PEOPLE'S HOMES and I think for the most part, he has developed pretty good judgement with many other things. This is a learning experience. He is a good, smart kid. I'm not going to baby him. He knew it was wrong and did it anyway.

Apologizing to a kid that did something wrong would send the wrong message. It gets him off the hook. If we leave money out in the open, that's our perogative. It's our home. He is a guest in it. What ever happened to the old saying, "Look with your eyes, not with your hands?"

My parents are antique dealers. In all my years of living in a house with many breakable, priceless antiques, I never broke a thing because I was taught to respect other people's stuff. I could look all I wanted, but had to ask to touch. I don't think that's too much to ask of a 7 year old.
post #40 of 151
In essence by leaving that much money laying around you are demonstrating it's lack of value to a 7 year old.
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