This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Bearly a lie

Got a call from Bear's school today. Bear has been buying sodas, school lunches, snacks and meals. At his last IEP meeting on Tuesday, apparently I'd mentioned that we are not giving the kids any money. They have put 2 and 2 together and realized he has money he shouldn't.

At first we just thought we finally had proof that he'd stolen money from his little brother's wallet 3 weeks ago (had to be him or Kitty, but we'd had no proof). The more the school director talked to Bear (and me on the phone) the more we realized that he'd spent more than the missing $11. Bear lied several times to the director about where the money came from. The director has been able to discover that Bear has borrowed money from at least 2 friends. Because kids look up to Bear they are willing to give him things (at his special school he is one of only 20 kids and gets a lot of positive feedback about being a good role model).

I almost LOLed when the director asked if we'd had any trouble with him lying in the last couple of years. Of course! I reminded him of several incidents involving the school and mentioned a couple of the more major ones elsewhere. He asked if it was easy to tell if Bear was lying - sure, if there's even the slightest suspicion that he did something wrong and his mouth is moving.

I informed him of Bear's SOP (standard operating procedure).

1. Something is missing or suspected. Bear is questioned. He lies - convincingly.

2. Part or all of Bear's lie is proven false.

3. Bear denies that he made the statement (lie) in the first place. He gets angry that he was accused and accuses his accuser of not having listened or heard him right (to buy him time to come up with an alternative lie).

4. Bear gives alternative lie.

5. Accuser is unable to prove or disprove the lie and the matter is dropped or part or all of Bear's alternative lie is proven false.

Repeat 3-5 - with Bear coming up with more convincing alternative lies the longer he has to think about it.

So here's our method. Research as much as possible without letting Bear know he is suspected of anything. Confront Bear with the consequences of his actions (discipline/punishment). Do not ask him if he did it or why he did it - this only leads to lying. Only question Bear if we already know we are going to have to drop this anyway due to lack of evidence.

The school of course did not do this. They assumed that because there have been many opportunities for Bear to lie and steal, when he did not, that he therefore is a trustworthy person. This is an invalid assumption.

Bear will lie or steal when:

1. He feels he is entitled (He wants it. He knows we won't give it to him. He does not agree with our reasons or thinks that rule should not apply to him).

Ex. It used to be his cell phone. We did not have a right to take it from him. "Everyone" has a cell phone. He has been behaving so he deserves to have his cell phone back. He "needs" his cell phone to text his biodad and biograndma. Mom left the cell phone unattended.

2. He is pretty sure that he won't get caught or blamed.

3. He thinks he is going to get into trouble - self-preservation instinct (sometimes even when he won't get in trouble!)

4. He wants something/ impulse/ poor judgment.

The school is satisfied. They have "caught" him in a lie (first, he told the director that the $10 he spent at Jack in the Box was from his Christmas money. The director asked again, so Bear realized he probably suspected Bear was lying. The story changed to 1/2 the money was from Grandma and 1/2 was borrowed. I had told the director that Bear had no more Christmas money so he knew this was a lie). The director now feels that he has "documented" that Bear has lied, but did not actually confront Bear on this. Confrontation will be up to us. If we actually planned to confront him, Bear would of course deny that he told the director this is where he got the money.

Like the last time something similar occured, the school has "clarified" the issue for Bear. Bear "didn't know" that he wasn't supposed to borrow other's things, and he "didn't know" that he wasn't supposed to sell Gatorade to his classmates. Now he "knows" that he is not supposed to borrow money from his classmates. Bear is a bright kid. He never commits the same "crime" twice. Will be interesting to see what his next trick will be.

Hubby and I argue about whether or not this is part of Bear's illness. I say of course it is. Hubby says it is environmental/ learned behavior. Actually I think it's both. Neither of us think there is a "cure" for this. I question whether or not Bear is capable of understanding consequences, curb his impulsivity, overcome his past, and trust enough to ever get to the point where he no longer steals or lies. Hubby thinks that Bear might avoid lying or stealing if the consequences are severe enough that he decides they are not worth the effort. I don't know. I do think Bear is aware enough to avoid situations where the "punishment" outweighs the reward.

We have decided to give Bear pretty severe consequences, but also make him aware that next time will be worse.

Our standard consequence for stealing or breaking someone else's things is pay back of double the value. In this case Bear took $11 out of Ponito's wallet (which was then hidden, but Ponito did get it back). We don't have a standard consequence for lying.

1. He will be required to do his brother's chores for 2 weeks ($10 if done well).

2. He will be required to give Ponito the remaining $12 from his saved allowance.

3. He will go back to carrying a see-thru backpack or no back pack at all.

4. He will not be allowed to carry a wallet.

5. He will continue to spend the night at Grandma's on Saturday night (something he's told me he doesn't like doing), but they will be closely supervising him.

6. He will not be allowed to go to his own Sunday school. Instead he will have to go to church and adult Sunday school with Poppy.

7. His room will be searched regularly again (although I probably will not tell him this)

8. He will lose the "benefit of the doubt" if things are stolen or missing (I will not be telling Kitty this as I worry she will take advantage)

9. He is already not allowed to go places with his friends unless Hubby or I can be present, but he will be reminded that this definitely does not increase our trust

10. He will be in the FAIR Club until all money is paid back to Ponito.

11. He will be informed that if anything more comes to light at the school, or if there are future issues then he will no longer be allowed to ride home from the public high school on the regular bus, and could potentially lose his ability to attend the public high school.

12. This will definitely delay his being able to eat lunch at the public high school indefinitely. He'll have to continue to eat lunch at his special school.

And then came the fun therapy session with Kitty and Hubby! More to come...

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