What do I do about my daughter?

Hi All,

I’m in a real quandry right now. As if MS isn’t bad enough and I’ve just had another horrible relapse and am trying to pick myself up day-by-day. I am so depressed though and am seeing a counsellor 2-3 times per month for a chat.

Okay enough about me as you don’t want to hear that, after all you’ve all got your own MS problems to deal with.

But…I now suspect my 18 year-old daughter is stealing from shops on a regular basis. She doesn’t work at the moment so gets her Jobseekers Allowance every two weeks and has to pay my wife some rent from that and she owes me £300 as she keeps going over her allowed minutes on her mobile phone contract so runs up quite a bill, which comes out of my account. My mobile phone bill has got 5 phones on it: mine, my wife’s, my 2 daughters and my son. Everyone else is fine and keeps in their allotted minutes each month so their bills are fine, but not this one. Tonight she has come home with a bag of clothes from a ‘cut-price’ store that typically sells clothes in a ‘jumble’sale’ fashion - you will know who I mean if you have ever shopped there, as there are usually clothes scattered over the floor from where they have fallen off display stands or hangers. I asked where she got the money from to buy them as I knew she didn’t have any of her own this week and she said they hadn’t cost anything, and from her look I knew she meant she had stolen them. My wife and I started to challenge her as we know she stole some ‘tatty’ jewellery from there a few weeks ago, something that my daughter admitted to, but tonight she just said ‘times are hard you know’ and stormed out of the house and up the road to her friend’s house.

Times are hard’ - yes don’t we bloody know it!

  • It’s hard having a chronic illness for which there is no cure and never knowing from day to day whether we are going to be able to function anywhere near ‘normally’ (whatever that is - it has been so long now I have forgotten what ‘normal’ means);
  • It’s hard knowing I’ll never be able to work again and having to put up with being in this state for ever;
  • It’s hard losing one’s independence by having to have a carer come in each morning to help me shower and dress as well as being taken to regular doctor and hospital appointments every month;
  • It’s hard when the government are making noises about getting as many people off benefits as possible, making many of us going through degrading medical examinations to see if we ‘really are’ disabled, as if anyone in the government would know what that means anyway…I am pretty sure there is no one in the government who has any disability, though if anyone knows better I stand to be corrected. I think that us disabled people are just a nuisance to the government anyway.

So what do I do? I know what I want to do…wring her damn neck…but as my left hand is useless I could only do it with my right hand so probably not possible. Do I report her to the police, maybe through Crimestoppers, where I can make an anonymous report, or do I just tell her I am going to the police about it? Or do I ignore it, but if so, why should I? No matter how hard the last few years have been for my wife and I, even though our income has more than halved we have still managed to provide for the children and have NEVER, I repeat NEVER, resorted to stealing anything and as I used to be a Special Constable for the police before MS showed it’s unkind head I know I couldn’t do it anyway.

What would you do? Would you shop her or ignore her? Have you had experience of this with a member of your family? I welcome all helpful responses to help me deal with this.

I’ve got to go now as I need sleep, but doubt I’ll get much tonight.


Hi Dave,

You say “your wife” in terms of giving “board” money…so not sure if this is your daughter’s mum or stepmum.

I have a daughter the same age so I know how hard it is to deal with being ill, and keeping on top of what our kids are up to.

As an ex Police Officer too, I sense your fustration in terms of what you and I believe is acceptable in terms of honesty.

However, she seems to be pushing the boundaries here. My daughter too has struggled to see me move from hi-flier to almost bedridden so it’s scary and difficult for them to accept. Sadly, they don’t think we may have enough to deal with without this shi*…lol

I would approach someone either within the family that she rates, or someone you trust from your time at the Police to speak to her and warn her of the consequences of her action…prison. I think a Police Officer would be better, but I would only say that you are “worried” she may getting in with the wrong crowd…though she really could do with an almighty “bollock**g” from someone (not you)

Finally, while you allow her to exceed her minutes, she may do so. There are options now to call home without having a contract, so you may need to consider pay as you go until you can trust her to work within her contract.

It’s difficult, she is probably struggling like hell with the ramifications of your ill health…does she clearly understand your illness? or does she secretly think you may die and leave her?

Its tough when you’re feeling ill to find the energy, but I also believe “least said soonest mended” it can be hard to take something back once its spoken.

Im very tired, so hope I’ve helped in some way. please PM me any time

Love Gillian

Hi Dave, I was saddened to read your post, you sound like a lovely caring dad and I really feel for you. What can I say I have brought up 3 children and count myself lucky they haven’t caused me too much worry. I don’t know what I would do if I were in your shoes. I fostered for 10 years, gave up quite a long time ago but I did have some problem children, one particular who constantly shop lifted. I stopped his privileges got him some counciling and eventually he stopped but it was tough going. I would be tempted to take the mobile phone off her till she learns she has to keep within a certain limit. I don’t know what else to say, I hope you get this sorted before it escalates out of control ans she ends up in real trouble. Good luck. Karen. Ps I am up this late as I couldn’t sleep until I knew my 19yr old was home safe in his car!!! And now he his fast asleep and safe I still cant sleep grrrr

we have issues with my 10 year old son (not quite the same I know), helping himself to food and hiding it, borrowing things from around the house. Always having a pocketful of change that no one knows where he got it from (he tells me it comes from pocket money he gets from his dad but his dad always says this is not the case, difficult to monitor when we are not in the same house). So my husband decided to have a word with someone he knows who is in the Met. Big tall imposing bloke. He had a word and since then no more problems. Sounds trivial but we were worried that thieving from us would escalate as he got older.

I have no children, but I’m not one to let my complete ignorance and lack of experience get in the way of having an opinion, so here are a couple of instant thoughts on reading your post.

First, I’m sorry you have a new worry to add to the collection you list so eloquently. Second, it seems to me that, when a person has MS, it does affect the whole family in all sorts of ways, whether the person with ms is a caregiver or a breadwinner, or both. Clearly you try hard to insulate your children from the effects of your illness as much as you can in terms of its impact on their growing up, hard as this is. But I don’t think we can shield other people from it fully, any more than we can shield ourselves. Your illness is part of her life too, and this stuff takes its toll.

From what you say, it does sound as though your daughter is struggling with life at the moment, maybe for a host of reasons that look relatively straightforwardly soluable to us, but not to her. Sometimes we can look at young, healthy people and think how lucky they are, and they shouldn’t have a care in the world. But they do. And maybe she’s as crap at dealing with her troubles as I was at 18, and why not? - she has it all to learn, and she’s still finding her range, and it’s hard work. Dave, I don’t think you should ignore it, and I don’t think you should shop her either. When you were dealing with stuff badly, and could not get your head straight, you turned to counselling. So did I. If it is hard for you to have a serious, calm, non finger-wagging discussion with the girl about what ails her, might this also be an option for your daughter? We know how hard it can be to open up to close family, and what a relief it can be to talk things through with an uninvolved third party. Worth sounding out the GP, perhaps?



Hi Dave

I understand that you must be feeling awful at the moment. I have a daughter myself so do understand how difficult things are especially when you have a teenager of this age. Fortunately for me; my daughter has always had adventures and travelled; worked in an orphange, climed mountains; studied at uni. in this country and abroad. She might not be rich with materieal things but she knows who she is and how to channel her access energy.

I couldn’t come to terms with this disease until I let go some of the guilt that goes with the frustration of not being able to help your family any more. I now look after me, part of looking after me is helping others and in this way I help myself as I receive support from my local MS branch.

As for her stealing things; it isn’t an answer to her problem, buying things is never an answer either. I think that you and your wife have to find out what is really going on here. Perhaps in the midst of what MS has done to you your daughter has been left out of the equation.

Apparently a lot of teenagers go though this shoplifting phase. I never did myself but it could be just a phase. She needs to channel this craving for adventure into something more positive and until she understands why she is doing this she isn’t going to change and could end up getting into real trouble, which doesn’t help you any of you.

Take care

Love Wendy x

I’ve not read your other replies but, putting myself in your daughter’s shoes for a minute:

  • she’s 18 - empathy may not have developed fully, so she’ll struggle to see life from anyone else’s viewpoint, no matter how hard anyone bangs on at her

  • she’s fed up - no money, everyone else has stuff

  • she’s fed up - it’s always all about someone else, nobody cares about her

  • she’s 18 and knows what she’s doing - why does everyone else think they’ve the right to tell her what to do?

I seriously think she needs some sympathy first and maybe a promise that you’ll all have a go at helping her to find her a job (without turning it into pressure fest!) if that’s something SHE would like you to do. You can teach her empathy by showing her that you’re trying to understand her.

Lolli xx

Jeez, that wasn’t meant to sound so unsympathetic!

I hope things work out well and soon.


Don’t report her to the police.

Don’t say things to her along the line of ‘how can you do this to me, you know I’m struggling with m.s.’

Don’t let her use your m.s. as a justification for her behaviour.

If she shoplifts again ignore her – do not get into a confrontation with her. She clearly wants the confrontation as she lets you know about her pinching stuff.

Accept that running up large phone bills is par for the course with teenagers.

Give her attention when she is being a good girl.

From the heading I thought your post was going to say your daughter was showing the signs of having m.s. Thankfully this isn’t the case. My daughter has m.s. - I’d much prefer to have a daughter who was shoplifting!!