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I don't know what to do with both my kids... they do not seem to take any responsibility in making a future of their own.

heart to heart Question
I am a divorcee living with my two children. I was married to a violent and aggressive man for thirteen years. The marriage ended in 1997 when at the time my son was 11 years old and my daughter 7. My son dropped out of school at the age of 15; however, he went to college and gained some qualifications. Now at 24 he is unemployed and has not shown any interest in his career. My daughter on the other hand is exceptionally bright and has intentions of going on to university. The problem is my daughter from the age of 14 has been stealing money from me, using my credit card and whatever cash I have in my purse for drinking and hanging out with friends. She displays aggression and does not want to change her ways.

I have never been able to have control over my children because seeing their mother as being physically, psychologically and emotionally abused by their father has left them with little or no respect for me. This 'stealing' has been going on for so long now that I feel completely stressed and frustrated in trying to get her to stop. We talked about it and usually end up arguing but we just cannot solve this issue. I have told her to leave my house, which she says she will once she starts university, the only thing is I'm afraid she will go further down and lose the drive. She does not know how to control her emotions, nor does she care to understand being responsible and focus. She's much more involved with her friends and does not take care of what is important in her life. She blames me for being a bad parent to her. I have been in full time work and had little time for them when they were growing up, but also had little time for myself. I don't know what to do with both my kids... they do not seem to take any responsibility in making a future of their own. How do I get through to them?

Reply by Coach Phil Evans
Phil Evans Firstly, my heart goes out to you in this situation, as it is a tale of the consequences of a dysfunctional relationship now playing out in the lives of all of the participants.

As far as your childrens' futures go, you can only do your best to be a good and guiding influence on them now, and from now onwards... 'Who' and 'what' they are now, is a result of that relationship, and its scars upon you all: you can only do something about it now, and as long as your intent is right, and for the good of all, then you can only wish for a slow recovery, and an understanding that their future is not in your hands (as hard as that may be for you).

The last thing that they (or anybody else) ever needs is criticism as to their reluctance to do what you think that they should be doing. However, (and that is a big however) the stealing must be stopped by you taking action!

Obviously, the things that you say to your daughter have not, and are not, working as a deterent. My strongest suggestion is this: to gain her respect you could warn her of the consequence of doing it EVER again. And that consequence is that you tell her that 'enough is enough' and that you would appreciate that she respect you and your money.

If she does one thing to break that respect and continues to steal from you, then you will have her charged with theft (by the police). If you find this too hard to do, then don't say it in the first place, as it would only reinforce to her that no matter what she does to offend you or hurt you or steal from you, you will do nothing! To date, that's what you've taught her: that you will do nothing! The only way to change - is to change!

You must do something different - or you will get the same results! I do hope that this helps, as it a tough call for any parent to do. But it is necessary, if you want respect.

And there is one other thing that you could do (if you haven't done it already) and that is to sit them both down (individually or together) and apologize to them for their surroundings in their early lives, and to let them know that you were still doing your best, even though they may not have seen it that way. If you do this with good intent, then what they think of you doing this for them is their choice: we can only hope that they will take it as it is meant - with good intent! I wish you well ...

From my heart to yours, Phil Evans

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