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Holding teen accountable for shoplifting


I am a single mother with a 16-year-old son who is much bigger than me. Up until today I would say that we have had a good relationship. But today he skipped school, went to the mall and shoplifted. I received a call from mall security while I was at work to pick him up. I picked him up, paid the fine (for which he will reimburse me) and went back to work.  

When I came home in the evening, he attempted to go out. I grounded him and told him why. He told me that if he couldn’t leave the house, neither could I.  When I tried to leave to go to the neighbor’s house, he blocked the door. I asked him politely to move, but he would not. What is some parenting advice for situations like this?



Issuing consequences for his behavior is necessary, but it looks like he is also testing your limits. If you continue to implement consequences for his blocking the door, for example, then it is likely that he will “up the ante” and try to do the same for you. For instance, if you disconnect his cell phone, he may try to disconnect yours. On and on the cycle of retaliation would go.  

Still, you need to stand your ground and say that preventing you from leaving is not OK. Tell him you will call for help if necessary, which means calling the police. You will also call the police if he leaves without your permission. If he does this, technically he is a runaway.  

It is helpful to plan the consequences for these behaviors in advance so your child is not taken by surprise. The list should be meaningful to your son. When he goes to school, is respectful, honest and helps around the house, he retains his privileges. When he is not, he loses them. The number of privileges and the length of time for their loss depend on the severity and frequency of the ​infractions.