I am a single mother of one 16-year-old daughter and I am very attentive to how my daughter develops as a person. We both work on it with constructive approaches.

But from time to time I discover in her school bag or drawer unfamiliar items and when asked she says she bought them on her money. She can buy something like a watch or other personal items and will not say or show them to me. We are on small budget so I am not giving her money every day. She has her own small savings though. She says she bought it but sometimes I have thoughts what if not?

She says she does not have a boyfriend but what if she has and he is giving her little gifts but she is hiding it from me?

We have these kind of issues. I may be too controlling or authoritative but we are living in the conflict zone and culturally as well the place is dangerous. It is a war zone in Eastern Europe. Also culturally and by mental development of people, it is not a safe place. This is the reason of my concerns and I am attentive to the environment my daughter is in the school, school mates and friends she connects with etc.

Related to hiding things from me, I don't want her to make poor or bad choices or get in dangerous situations. Most of all, I am worried she distrusts me which can cause more closeness of her and facing issues alone that can lead to incorrect direction, behaviour, mindset. I totally understand that she is 16 and can have some freedom, but it is unnecessary to hide things and items from me, and if told and shown it will avoid both of us fussy and unpleasant situations.

What steps should I take to make her to be more open about things and prevent her to tell little lies I noticed she says sometimes?

  • 1
    Also, it seems you are worried she is hiding things from you. Could you explain why this worries you? After all, one might think your daughter is old enough to have some secrets. Do you think she will make bad choices? Do you think she distrusts you? Do you think she will get into dangerous situations? Without knowing your motivation, it is hard to give a meaningful answer. Voting to close for now.
    – sleske
    Mar 3, 2017 at 9:31
  • @sleske Most of all I am worried she distrusts me which can cause more closeness of her and facing issues alone that can lead to incorrect direction,behaviour,mindset.
    – Sofiko
    Mar 4, 2017 at 6:59
  • 2
    She bought them for HER money. No problem at all - at some point, she'll need to learn how to keep her finances in check - the earlier the better. A person does not become an adult magically at the 18th birthday. Mar 6, 2017 at 4:08
  • 1
    What sort of comments do you usually make if she openly shows you a new purchase or gift? Do you comment on cost or seem disapproving in any way? Do you ask questions about where the items came from, that make her feel that you don't trust her? Perhaps she senses that you may overanalyse her purchase and would rather not have any fuss or cause worry when she acquires something new.
    – Bekahland
    Mar 6, 2017 at 11:03
  • when you're strict and authoriative, children don't expect you to understand them... and to some extent, they're right!
    – Aurangzeb
    Jan 29, 2019 at 13:08

3 Answers 3


Your daughter is sixteen, and only a few years away from adulthood and going off on her own (if she chooses). I think the question you need to ask yourself is, have you raised her so that she is able to make (mostly) good choices on her own?

If your answer is yes, then you have done what you can. Keep it up, and keep paying attention for anything truly worrying; but otherwise, let her make those choices while the risks are a bit less and her safety net is a bit stronger. Talk to her openly about the kinds of risks that exist living in the area you do, but hopefully you've already been doing that. And if you feel that there are certain things you need to know to keep that safety net up, then continue to the next paragraph anyway.

If your answer is no, then it sounds like a serious conversation is in order. Not one where you tell her you think she's stealing things, or hanging out with the wrong crowd. But one where you tell her why you want to know the things you want to know; why you need her to tell you where she gets things from. Because it's your job as a parent to protect her, to some extent, from the consequences of her actions, and because you need to have full information in order to do that. If you don't think you can fully trust her in these regards, then you do need that information, but you need to be very open about why, and exactly what you're asking her to tell you.

Even in the latter case, she still needs some degree of privacy, and you need to do what you can to help move to the first category: where you aren't worried about her choices anymore. Have a conversation with her, and target the end result of that conversation to be something that satisfies your need to know she's safe and not making dangerously bad choices, and gives her a sense of herself and privacy; and at the same time, gives her the freedom to make choices, even bad ones, within reasonable bounds.

But remember at the end of the day - she's sixteen, very close to adulthood, and controlling too much is counterproductive.


I am going to assume that your concern is that your daughter might be stealing.

There are numerous reasons why children steal. If it is stealing outside of the home:

  • They don't have enough money for something they really want/need.
  • The thrill.
  • They are not allowed the item (cigarettes/ lipstick/jewelry).
  • Peer pressure, they think it makes them look 'cool'.

Inside the home:

  • They think that what is yours is theirs.
  • They are angry and trying to punish you.

My mum could not prove I had not paid for the item. She and I agreed (my brother had the same rules) that from that day forward, I would keep receipts for anything I bought. The bills were dated and itemised, so I need not do more than keep them. IF she suspected that I stole an item and I had the receipt, she would pay me the same amount of money. If not, the item was removed from me. She rarely asked to see the bills, unless she thought the item would have had to come as a gift.

I was never caught stealing anything that could be returned, but when my brother was caught, he had to return it to the store, pay for it without getting the item back and write the owner a letter of apology.

You could help your daughter find some work to augment her allowance. You can include her in the financial needs/requirements of the home and let her see that money is tight. At sixteen she is old enough to understand.

You also have to allow your child privacy but carefully. Until she is an adult, this is your job.

When I Googled 'adolescence and stealing', there were dozens of sites, some with good information. I imagine that your concerns are heavier than usual due to the area where you are living. Her consequences could be much worse than at other times or in other places. I think she needs to have this conversation with you about your fears and reasons why this behaviour is so dangerous.

  • She definitely is not stealing. She just hides new things unnecessarily. And the fact she hides it disturbs me because I think then what if she hides other things,issues she has etc.
    – Sofiko
    Mar 4, 2017 at 6:50
  • 3
    Okay, then I'd say you've reached a stage in her adolescence where her privacy has become very important to her. I'd say that is perfectly normal.
    – WRX
    Mar 4, 2017 at 14:56

If your child is doing something wrong or is hiding facts from you, you have to obviously question her and understand what is she busy with, and whether she is doing something that she is not supposed to be doing it. Children drift away from us when we do not ask or say anything to them. We have to sit with them and talk it out with them, explaining and guiding what is right and what is wrong for them, and at times even shake them if required. But how we do it is the key!

Teens don’t always clam up and hide their lives from their parents, and not all of them think that their parents are old-fashioned or stupid. As parents of teens, it’s our job to learn their language and create a bond of trust so that they feel comfortable coming to us and confiding in us the minutest details of what is happening in their life. Let’s see how we can do it:

• Clear the mental roadblock that prevents your teen from talking about her life to you and open the door for new and healthier communication pattern to emerge. Foster true connection with your daughter through a free, frank and authentic communication that encourages both of you to drop your fears, to forget your prejudices and truly see each other for who you are, and hear out each other in a meaningful way. Find time to sit down and have a one-on-one chat with her, without being too formal. Create opportunities to communicate more naturally and encourage conversation on this matter too.

• Lead by example. If you're having trouble getting your teen to open up, share your real experiences as a teenager, about how you communicated with your parents, and how you made your choices in life. Talk in a tone that is inspiring and inviting, to help her seek from you the advice she needs, to find the solution that she might be struggling with, or to simply unload some fears of hers with someone she feels she can trust.

• Give your daughter the confidence that you believe in her. When your child knows that you believe in her, she will not want to or like to do anything wrong, that challenges your belief in her. It will act as the biggest deterrent at every step of her life. And even if she has walked a few miles on the wrong path, this belief will refrain her from proceeding further, and will put her back on the road, as she does not want to lose your trust and love at any cost.

• Discuss only when you both are at peace. If either of you is upset, hold on and bring up the matter only when you both are calm. Avoid conflict at any cost, and over time, you will certainly see good results come to you. Having said that, as a parent, you have all the right to set rules that are necessary and expect her to follow them too. Initially, your child may not like when you set boundaries. But ignore your child's shrugs, raised eyes and bored looks, if she has started behaving in the way you'd like her to.

• Judging. Be patient before you judge your teenager. Listen openly to what she has to say and tune in to what your girl is feeling. If you truly listen to her, then you can offer support and guidance with empathy, after having rightly understood her side of reality, even if you may not be completely agreeing to it. She should never feel, “My parents don’t understand, so what’s the point of trying to explain myself?” She may be making a poor choice, but the truth is, she might not yet have the skill to make a better one. You have to help develop herself to make better choices in life.

• Offer to brainstorm with your child about the choices that she has made. Sit with her and develop a pros and cons list. sk her to think critically as to what will work and what will be problematic about her decision, what would be the natural consequences of her choices, and how would she feel about dealing with that? When you let her see that you have faith in her abilities and she has the space to work things out, but with the due guidance and supervision from your side; she will begin to open up with confidence.

• Don't ever give up on your daughter. Your child needs you even if she may not admit it. Always be there for her, even if it means silently, for it surely tells her how much you care. Be sure to let her know that you are always there to help her, to whom she can consult anytime, for anything. Pray for her welfare. Pray to the Lord to grace her.

Children Respond To Love If nothing helps, leave the moulding and development to the expert. Children are looking for love. And when they do not find that love, they suffer in silence.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .