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How should I handle my step-son's stealing problem?

Q: I have been married for 5 years. My husband is very loving and caring. He has two children from his ex-wife and now we have a child together. He is a kind man, who believes that his children can't do anything wrong. Once I approached my husband about our second son stealing things, but he didn't believe me. He becomes more upset, when I accuse our son for anything and feels that I just keep blaming him. I can't talk to his ex-wife because she and my husband are not on talking terms. Lately a note of 100 was stolen from my safe keeping spot and I found that our middle son was acting very strange. He has a history of stealing since the age of 6, when he opened a birthday gift addressed to a friend's daughter and stole the glitter from the box and hid it in the bathroom. I always find the evidence of things he has stolen in his bag or drawer. Now he is trying to blame his 3-year-old brother. My husband is upset with me and says that I am making our son feel like an outcast. What should I do?

A:Your concern about your step-son is understandable. But perhaps you need to change the way of dealing with the concern and the information that you have. This would involve changes in 2 aspects: your dealing with the child and your sharing the concerns with your husband. Telling your husband directly would make him feel defensive as he may feel you are acting like a typical stepmother. The best way would be let him understand that you are the child's well-wisher and unbiased. Showing positive gestures whenever the child shows desirable behaviours would help in dealing with the child and also would convince the father about your fairness and genuine concerns. Try to form a rapport with the child. Discussing and reasoning are always more effective than blaming and scolding. Unconditional warmth and setting of limits would prove useful with the child.


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