Stealing: A Unique Solution to a Common Problem
by Dianne Yee

I met a woman who had a foster FAS daughter (age 16). The daughter stole all the time, from everyone in the household. She took CDs from her sibs, costume jewelry from her mom, cash from everyone. The family would discuss "Who Could Have Stolen XYZ" at dinnertime regularly. Everyone knew the 16-year-old was the culprit, but no one wanted to accuse her. Instead, they hoped she'd learn from these family discussions that stealing was wrong and that it hurt the victim.

But she didn't learn and the stealing went on...driving everyone crazy.

Finally, the mom had enough. She took the girl aside and, despite the girl's adament denials of stealing, she told her she *knew* she'd been the one doing the stealing. She told her that if anything further was missing from anyone, she (the 16-year-old) was going to find something of hers missing.

Sure enough, the mom soon discovered her favorite earrings missing. She said nothing, but when the daughter went to school, the mom took her favorite dress, wrapped it in a brown garbage bag, and hid it in the outdoor garbage can.

Within a day, the daughter noticed her dress was missing and she set up a big commotion about it, "Who would take my dress! That was my favorite dress. I worked to earn the money for it. Where could it be? Who would go into my room like that?" Yada, yada, yada.

The mother simply said to her, "It must have gone to where all those other things we're all missing have gone to."

The daughter stopped stealing.

--Dianne Yee

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