DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I'm a single mom and my teenagers are stealing money from me. I'm not talking about small change but $20 to $80 from my purse at a time, after I get my week's money from the bank machine. At 15 and 16, they have their own jobs at fast-food restaurants, but they still steal from me -- and I clean houses for a living. I've told them to leave my purse alone, but they deny touching it. They're always complaining they "don't make enough money" at their jobs. I think my oldest boy is also buying drugs and my youngest, a girl, has a lot of expensive brand-name clothes that don't match her budget. Could she be shoplifting too, I wonder? Last night I went to bed crying when I discovered $60 missing from my wallet again. Help me, please!
-- Ripped Off By My Own Kids, Winnipeg
Dear Ripped: Get tough. Sit down and talk with them. Call it stealing; don't soft-peddle. If this is tolerated by you, your teens may steal elsewhere (if they aren't already) and end up with records and jail time. Kids have no idea how many security cameras are trained at staff, and how many loss prevention officers are out there watching them at work and in stores. Once you've caught them, put a locking knob on your bedroom door and your purse in a locked suitcase inside (key in your pocket) Stealing like this can be a function of resentment and anger towards divorced parents, so consider some counselling for the three of you and perhaps include dad, if he's concerned and helpful.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I'm writing this letter because I've been unable to get over a boyfriend I had a couple of years ago. We split up because we each had kids from previous relationships. Those kids just couldn't get along. When we broke up, I was heartbroken. I've dated several other guys but can't stop thinking about him. I was so in love with him. He's in a relationship now, and I'm trying to forget him, But when I see him it is soooo hard. Help me make sense of these feelings.
-- Still Longing, Winnipeg
Dear Longing: Your old love has already floated way down the River of Love and met someone else. You're still hung up on a branch by your coat tails unable to do anything but wriggle. Who is going to find you up there? Get hold of a book -- It's Called a Break-Up Because It's Broken by Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruatola-Behrendt. This is a couple who found each other after both of them chased impossible people, wasted time and made fools of themselves for years. If you finally let go of this old flame (why do you see him at all?), you could find a greater guy whose kids actually like your kids, or a single guy who wants to be a great stepdad to your children.
Questions or comments? Write Miss Lonelyhearts c/o Winnipeg Free Press 1355 Mountain Ave. Wpg R2X 3B6 or email firstname.lastname@example.org