Helping Himself

Q: My young teenage stepson has been helping himself to my mother’s sodas. He’ll stop by her house (right beside ours) on his way home from school, go into her garage and snatch a soft drink from her extra fridge there. His younger brother goes along with it and drinks a soda himself.

To me, this is stealing. My husband’s not as upset as I am because he says grandmother would have given them the soda anyway. Mo mother thinks as I do that it’s not right. How do I handle it?

Image courtesy of Artzenter/

Image courtesy of Artzenter/

A: Whether or not your mother would give the boys a can of soda is not at issue here. The fact is, they are taking what isn’t theirs to take. She hasn’t offered the soda to them, nor has she issued a standing invitation for them to stop by and grab a soda on their way home from school.

However, this is an issue that your mother should deal with in her way. After all, it’s her soft drinks they’re drinking. I would tell your mom that you support whatever she wants to do in terms of consequences and going forward.

For the record, if it were my grandsons sneaking into my garage and taking my soda without asking, I would lock the garage and inform them they should not take any more items—food or otherwise—from my house without my permission.

Then I would add up the number of sodas they’ve taken without permission and present them with a “bill” for the drinks. I’d say that if they don’t have the money to pay for the drinks already consumed, then they would be coming over to my house after school to do chores until the debt has been paid in full. I think that will remind them of whose soda it was and to stop them from pilfering the drinks in the future without asking.



  1. Jane Joseph October 31, 2015 at 11:56 am - Reply

    I think that this is terrible advice. I don’t know how long he’s been her stepson nor whether he feels close to his step grandmother but in my opinion I would want my stepson to feel safe coming and going as if he is as welcome as I would be at my mothers house to enjoy a soda. After all, we don’t put a bill in front of our kids when they take a soda out of the fridge do we? I think that it would just serve alienate him and feel that this grandmother does not completely embrace him. If it’s a matter of cost or inconvenience, then that is a different story and I would present it as a matter of finances.

    • shamaker November 5, 2015 at 2:04 pm - Reply

      The issue isn’t whether or not the grandson was welcome–it was the fact that he was pilfering sodas without asking his grandmother–and the grandmother thought it wasn’t right for him to do so. The grandmother would likely be open to his asking for the soda, but from the question, it sounded like the grandson merely went into the garage and took the soda without even talking with the grandmother.

      Children, even young teens, should be respectful of others, even relatives, and that includes their consumable goods. And yes, kids don’t like to have their misbehaviors corrected and often say things like “You don’t love me,” and “I hate you” in response. But in reality, knowing what the boundaries are–and every relationship has them to some degree–makes kids feel safe and secure.

Leave A Comment