I am very deeply hurt after my child lied to me and shoplifted

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a part-time worker in my 40s. My child was caught shoplifting.

Since becoming a junior high school student, my child has become obsessed with a certain anime, and they collect the merchandise as if competing with friends.

Some time ago, some money in our house disappeared. I believed my child when they said, “I didn’t take it.” Thus, I simply replied, “I will be sad if you ever do that.”

And I was so shocked to discover my words did not reach them. I don’t know how to deal with such a lying child.

The owner of the store where my child shoplifted told me to watch them more carefully.

I felt that I had to accept the owner’s words. But at the same time, I was deeply hurt, as I felt the words negated everything I had done to raise my child to the best of my ability while working as a single mother.

I know I have to confront my child, but I still cry when I remember how much I have been hurt.

—B, Chiba Prefecture

Dear Ms. B:

I understand you must be feeling quite hurt, but I dare to tell you that you must be more determined. In other words: Have pride.

You are a single parent raising your child to the best of your ability while working. This, in itself, is an admirable achievement to be proud of.

Raising a child is a long journey, and many things happen along the way. I don’t think that what happened this time has anything to do with being a single mother.

Of course, you need to scold your child and tell them shoplifting is a criminal act called theft.

You must tell your child that you once trusted their excuses, and now you are sad to discover you were betrayed.

Also tell your child that if a person commits a crime, even if the person returns the stolen items or pays for them, the public will strongly condemn the child as well as the parents.

A junior high school student should be able to understand how their mother feels.

However, what your child did is separate from your life. Don’t lose confidence in your own way of living. Please do not think the owner’s words have absolutely negated everything you have accomplished thus far.

This is a crucial time for your child. Please watch over them. You need to show you are proud of how you live as a mother to prevent this from happening again.

—Yoko Sanuki, lawyer