Julia wrote a very good blog on the Christian Adoption blog. It is something that we have dealt with many times in our own home.
Julia is being crucified for being upset with her daughter, and I’m joining the ranks with her because I happen to agree with her.
She said that her daughter “stole” some food from the house and everyone is up in arms over the term stealing. If she had said that her daughter was hoarding food, would everyone be equally upset?
I posted a blog about some of the discoveries we have had with Sammy stealing or hoarding food.
Kids who hoard food usually have come from backgrounds of neglect. When they hoard it is mostly about having it because they are not sure where or when their next meal is coming. They also eat themselves silly at the table. Many times kids who hoard food don’t eat what they hoard. Simply having it is their security measure.
However, when it comes to “stealing” food, that’s a totally different issue as far as I’m concerned. The rule in our house is that if you want “junk food” you have to ask. If you are truly hungry, you may help yourself to the fruit bowl, some cheese, make a sandwich, or have other normal, healthy food.
So what do I consider stealing where food is concerned? One of the people on Julia’s blog felt that a child taking food from their own home should not be considered stealing. I beg to differ. The food is not the issue, it’s the act and the intent of the child in procuring the food. If my child takes my money without asking, it’s considered stealing.
So, what do I consider stealing?
• Does the child wait until mom or dad isn’t looking?
• Does the child take more than is healthy?
• Is there a family rule that the child is violating?
• Is what the child is doing healthy to his/her emotional and physical development?
• Are the wrappers or remains of the food being hidden from the parents?
Here are a couple of examples of how things have progressed in my house.
Sammy waited until I was in the shower, went into the pantry, got a one pound block of baking chocolate, ate it while I was in the shower and then stuffed the wrapper in the beams of the closet in the upstairs bathroom.
There is not part of that scenario that is healthy for my child. The food eaten, the amount of it eaten, the sneaking and the hiding of the “evidence” are all things that are not good. If he truly thought what he was doing was OK, why did he wait until I got in the shower, why did he eat it in his bedroom and why did he hide the wrapper? He knew what he was doing was wrong, that’s why.
Another example is when Sammy had to sell candy bars as a fundraiser. He stole, yes stole they weren’t his, and ate FIFTY king size candy bars. We did not find the wrappers until our septic system was pumped. He had flushed them down the toilet.
When Sammy was asked why he didn’t ask for a candy bar if he wanted one, his answer was very simple “Because you might say no.” This says that his wants supersede anything his dad or I might say. He doesn’t like the word No, so he just avoids it.
It got so bad that we had to remove all junk food from our home. We went through lessons on morals, lessons on how this gorging on junk food was affecting his health, and many more lessons. None of them had any effect. He took what he wanted regardless of any circumstances or consequences.
I am not a mean mother. I let my kids have junk food and I freely give it to them. But I don’t allow my kids to eat any and all the junk they want. That teaches them nothing. I’ll get ready for the critical comments, but I know there are many other parents out there with me who deal with this exact issue on a daily basis.
Photo credit – ONE pile of wrappers Sammy had hidden