What was he thinking!?


#1

My brother called me this morning and informed me that our 13 year old cousin stole his grandmother’s (my aunt’s) credit card and put $4000 worth the charges on it. He bought cell phones and ipods over the internet and gave them to his friends and kept some for himself.

My cousin’s mother is very limited. Though, she is cognizant enough to know better. She is on welfare, has 3 men living in her house and is on drugs. For these reasons my 13 year old cousin lives with my aunt. When I lived at home I used to take him places and buy him things, I even tutored him in school. I would pick him up once a week and we would do things together because I was hoping that my positive influence would deter him from following a path like his mother’s.

He is very smart. He gets good grades in school and is a sweet kid. I think he just succumbed to peer pressure. My aunt kicked him out of her house and had him arrested. He is now back living with his mother again, and I know that’s the last place he wants to be. I think after things cool down, he’ll be back living with my aunt…this just happened a few days ago.

My brother and my dad suggested that I go talk to him. I haven’t talked to my aunt yet, but I am sure she’d want me to say something to him, also. I will be going home this weekend and I wanted to stop by his house and have a good, long talk to him. He and I were very close at one time, he still calls me Aunt Kim.

What should I say to him, or suggest? I have so many things I want to say to him but I don’t want to drive him away from me. I don’t want to patronize him and make him feel like a child. I want to show him that his actions can really hurt his future since he has so much potential. I just don’t know how to present it…I also want to try to get him interested in a church youth group…what do you all think?


#2

Is your aunt a single woman?

I can’t help thinking that the problem may be that this boy is at an age where it shouldn’t be women who are raising him but MEN. Boys change around the time they hit age 13 and they need something other than a mommy figure.

By all means tell your cousin that you are very disappointed in him. Tell him that he still has a chance to make a good life for himself.

Then send your brother and your dad to talk to him about what it means to be a man!


#3

[quote=SMHW]Is your aunt a single woman?

I can’t help thinking that the problem may be that this boy is at an age where it shouldn’t be women who are raising him but MEN. Boys change around the time they hit age 13 and they need something other than a mommy figure.

By all means tell your cousin that you are very disappointed in him. Tell him that he still has a chance to make a good life for himself.

Then send your brother and your dad to talk to him about what it means to be a man!
[/quote]

Yes, he does have a male figure in the house, my uncle. People at work asked me that question, too. I’m not sure what my uncle has done with him.


#4

Talk to your uncle. It is true that boys need someone to show them how to be a man. Women certainly can help, but not in the same way a man can. Sometimes boys that age can get the idea that rebelling and acting “thug” is what makes a real man. If uncle won’t help, try to find someone who will. Easier said than done, I know.


#5

Is this teenager Catholic? Take the boy to Confession and force him to ask for forgiveness and to make some sort of restitution to his aunt, even if in the form of service hours at a charity or school or soup kitchen, etc if she doesn’t want him around her place. Also, cut his computer privilages, after this, he doesn’t deserve them except for homework assignments.


#6

I would ask your cousin what he was thinking.

Chances are he won’t know but in case he does have some reason perhaps he’ll tell you.

Chances are he feels abandoned by his mother and doesn’t like living with a male who is not a blood relative. (He may not consciously realize this.) Of course even boys who live with their parents do the wrong thing so I wouldn’t get too hung up on the reason unless there is something you can do to change things.

I’m making the assumption that the aunt and uncle who had taken in your cousin are decent people. If not, then you are focusing on the wrong problem.

But given they are OK, you (or maybe some adult male other than the uncle; you need someone who comes across as objective) need to impress on the cousin that he was actually BETTER OFF than most boys his age. Most boys just get the default parents they are born with. He was *CHOSEN *by his aunt and uncle. They cared enough to take him in. He didn’t respond like someone so blessed. Now he’s going to have to work extra hard to repair the problems he caused and to earn back the trust of his extended family.


#7

My friends cousin took her mom’s Visa and bought a bunch of Coach purses. Do they really not think people will get the credit receit? Teens may have a reptutation for being reckless, but as one, I can’t understand how people can be so stupid as to think they won’t get caught.


#8

I would advise that you recommend to your aunt and uncle that your cousin get a job and pay back what he charged (or at least part of it). This way he will learn something about the value of money.


#9

[quote=siamesecat]My friends cousin took her mom’s Visa and bought a bunch of Coach purses. Do they really not think people will get the credit receit? Teens may have a reptutation for being reckless, but as one, I can’t understand how people can be so stupid as to think they won’t get caught.
[/quote]

That’s what I couldn’t understand! Did he honestly think he wasn’t going to get caught when she got the bill??

Thank you all so much for the suggestions. Perhaps I can get my uncle to talk to him. I think a strong male influence will help. My aunt and uncle are very good people but they were really inconvenienced when they had to take in my cousin and his brother. But they love them both to pieces.

To the person who asked if he’s Catholic, he is not. My dad’s family is primarily Methodist, and they don’t go to church.

Keep 'em coming!


#10

StratusRose,

The most important thing to do with your time with him this visit is listen. Don’t lecture, don’t even advise…ask the kind of questions which will help him open up about his thought process, his emotional state, and any peer influences around him.

You’d want to say something like, “Hey, what a mess, huh? How are you holding up? Can I help in any way? What’s going on in your life? Are these guys really your friends? Why? What is it about them, their lives, which sustain you? Do you like school? Are things going well there? How are things with you and your mom? How are things between you and your aunt? Did you not like living with her? Did you like it? Why/why not?”

Mostly though, you start with one question and add the others only if he’s not opening up…one of those, or something along those lines will finally strike a chord which will find him unable to not talk extensively, and it’s at that point that you want to do the intent listening - no interruptions, no advice, no admonitions - just affirm and validate whatever it is he’s feeling as he’s opening up to you.

Then you take all that home with you and offer it to Jesus at adoration. He and the Spirit will guide you from there. In the meantime you managed to establish trust between you and your cousin and have left him with his own thoughts (not yours, but his) and those are the ones which do the most good. You know how that is, at the end of the evening you lie in bed alone trying to sleep and all these sound bites from throughout the day surface in a seemingly random order…that’s when the Spirit does His best work, in my opinion…

From there you schedule follow-up get togethers - or establish internet/telephone communication. After a while you’ll know when it’s time to start offering advice and guidance…you’ll know when he’s ready to hear it and perhaps follow it rather than shut down and reject it from you.

God be with you as you help your cousin through this.

YYM


#11

We recently completed training to be foster parents/adopt for kids who have that sort of original home life. One of the things that they stressed to us over and over through our 27 hours of classes was that kids who are out of their parent’s home (for good reasons as you have described) have a lot of emotions ranging from feeling like they are betraying their parents for liking the safety and happiness of their new environment to fear that their guardians are going to “abandon” them as soon as they do something wrong.

Even kids as old as your cousin seem to think that they somehow caused their mother to make bad decisions and thus the child acts out all of these emotions in negative ways. This phase of acting out can include stealing as you’ve described or killing a pet, or burning the house down or all sorts of other unpleasant behaviors that made me and my dh question if we really want to do this. I hope that your cousin is seeing a counselor. It is important that the family not give up on him even though it may seem like the easiest and best thing to do. I will keep him and your aunt and uncle in my prayers.


#12

[quote=T.A.Stobie, SFO]I would advise that you recommend to your aunt and uncle that your cousin get a job and pay back what he charged (or at least part of it). This way he will learn something about the value of money.
[/quote]

As a mom and foster mom of many years, I can tell you that this approach works very well. When they work hard for the money but can only keep a little bit of it…they learn and quick.

Chovy,
There is a difference between understanding why they do it and letting them get away with it…

We have a boy in our community that did almost the same thing to his grandma. His mom is an alcoholic so he lived with g’ma and g’pa and he resented her so he kept stealing from grandma and grandpa including $4000 to but a 4 wheeler gocart. You know how he got caught? Kid was dumb enough to drive it on the road to get to his gf’s house (which is why he stole it, g’ma wouldn’t drive him there) Finally g’pa had enough and had him arrested and charged because g’ma wouldn’t. For a year after that, the kid cut on himself, and threatened suicide everytime things didn’t go his way. After they forced him back with his mom and made him pay for what he stole… he is just now starting to get a clue. This is a kid that had every advantage too…g’ma sent him to Catholic school and he got kicked out (trust me I worked there at the time, no wonder the teachers breathed a sigh of relief!)


#13

Well, legally, your aunt if off the hook financially. She only has to report that her card was stolen like RIGHT NOW, at which point she generally becomes responsible only for $50 worth. She could have her new card in 72 business hours. She should, of course, file all the paperwork necessary with the credit card company, including telling the company that the boy helped himself. It does not matter that her grandson stole the card. It was stolen, period. She did not say, “Oh go ahead, Leroy, help yourself to MeeMaw’s pocketbook!” He stole it.

As for the little weasel…

…All property gets returned.

…Any property that cannot be returned for whatever reason gets reimbursed by the little weasel, in honest toil.

…He is on a very short leash, so to speak, if ever in his grandmother’s presence.

…I would buy a lockbox or locker, to store purses and other valuables when at home.

Why ask why? Better to do something about it now. I can’t say your aunt should have him back or not. She may not be able to do that now. I cannot say you’re talking to him will help. But that’s what I’d do if it were me.


#14

I would appreciate it if you would not call my cousin a “little weasel.”


#15

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