?> Annie Fox Parent Forum - Ask Annie - Behavior Problems: My son used my credit card without my permission!

Behavior Problems:
“My son used my credit card without my permission!”

Dear Annie,

I am so sad and disappointed. Yesterday I noticed charges on my checking account that I did not recognize. When I finally tracked it down, it turns out my son took my credit card and set up a PayPal account and used it to buy some software for his computer. I honestly don't know how to deal with this situation. So far, I have told him how hurt and betrayed I feel, how disappointed I am and I have taken away his computer.

When I asked him what he was thinking--I mean, he know I would find out and be mad and he would lose his computer--he said that he didn't think about it. He just wanted the program and didn't think I would let him buy it so he just did it.

He is 14 and consistently has made poor decisions over the past couple of years. He has what I think you would refer to as a slow frontal lobe development and so is unable to think through a decision to understand consequences. He is also very unorganized and undependable. My concern is that some day he is going to make an irreversible decision with drugs or alcohol that will be devastating.

Not sure what to do from here...

Sad Mom

Dear Sad Mom,

I can certainly understand why you're feeling this way. For a moment let's put aside your son's recent pattern of "consistently" making "poor" decisions.

Let's deal with the direct consequences of his charging stuff to you. Aside from telling him how hurt, disappointed and betrayed you feel (which is good for him to hear) and aside from taking away his computer (which is an appropriate partial disciplinary measure)... In what ways is your son paying you back for what he did? In what ways is he being held accountable for understanding that his "thoughtless" choice resulted in this outcome?

Because frankly his response "I didn't think about it. I just wanted the program..." while certainly an understandable cursory teen response to your question "What were you thinking when you decided this would be a good idea?" it is not an end point in this discussion.

Certainly, you are entitled to more introspection on his part. And more to the point, as his mentor and life coach, you are responsible for training him about the importance of being able (at any pre-decision moment) to stop, calm down, identify his goal ("I want the program.") and think about his options for getting it AND (this is the most important part) the possible OUTCOMES of choosing any of those options.

Why bother with all this? Because being reflective vs. reactive ("I didn't think about it I just did it 'cause I wanted the program.") is the hallmark of a mature, responsible adult. You can't expect a 14 year old to nail it every time. But I'm telling you, if you don't use this as a teachable moment to a greater degree than it sounds like you've already done, then you and your son are missing an opportunity to learn something very important.

In friendship,

Annie

Need some parenting advice?
Write to Annie.
She’s got answers.


Find Annie Fox: Find Annie on Facebook Find Annie on Twitter Find Annie on Pinterest Find Annie on YouTube Find Annie on Google+ Find Annie on LinkedIn Find Annie on Goodreads Find Annie on Quora
What's New?
''The Girls Q&A Book on Friendship: 50 Ways to Fix a Friendship Without the DRAMA'' by Annie Fox, M.Ed., illustrated by Erica De Chavez ''Teaching Kids to Be Good People'' by Annie Fox, M.Ed. “People Are Like Lollipops” by Annie Fox, Illustrated by Brian Narelle
“People Are Like Lollipops” iBook by Annie Fox, Illustrated by Brian Narelle available on the iBookstore
Download ''Are We Lost?'' on Kindle
“People Are Like Lollipops” by Annie Fox, Illustrated by Brian Narelle, Print Edition available on CreateSpace
Books and Apps for Kids
''Are We Lost?'' by Annie Fox, Illustrated by Eli Noyes
Download ''Are We Lost?'' on Kindle
''Are We Lost?'' by Annie Fox, Illustrated by Eli Noyes, Print Edition available on CreateSpace
''Are You My Friend?'' by Annie Fox, Illustrated by Eli Noyes
''Are You My Friend?'' iBook by Annie Fox, Illustrated by Eli Noyes available on the iBookstore
''Are You My Friend?'' by Annie Fox, Illustrated by Eli Noyes, Print Edition available on CreateSpace
Books & Apps for Teens
''Middle School Confidential 3: What's Up With My Family?'' iOS app ''Middle School Confidential 2: Real Friends vs. the Other Kind'' iOS app ''Middle School Confidential 1: Be Confident in Who You Are'' iOS app ''The Teen Survival Guide to Dating & Relating: Real-World Advice on Guys, Girls, Growing Up, and Getting Along'' by Annie Fox M.Ed.
''Middle School Confidential, Book 3: What's Up with My Family?'' by Annie Fox, Illustrated by Matt Kindt
''Middle School Confidential, Book 2: Real Friends vs. The Other Kind'' by Annie Fox M.Ed., Illustrated by Matt Kindt
''Middle School Confidential, Book 1: Be Confident in Who You Are'' by Annie Fox, Illustrated by Matt Kindt
''Too Stressed to Think? A Teen Guide to Staying Sane When Life Makes You CRAZY'' by Annie Fox, M.Ed. and Ruth Kirschner