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Stepson stealing clothes from ours.

overworkedstepmother's picture

Hello, I'm 29 and have been a stepmother since I was 20 to a boy and a girl.  My stepson is 14 and over the last year or so has changed dramatically.  It has not been an easy journey and over time I want to dicuss and share stories with others who understand.  The issue I'm going to bring up today is CLOTHING.

I have always made it so whatever clothes the kids come to ours in from their mams gets washed and worn back to hers.  They have clothes at ours that they wear but when they go back to their mams its in clothes from hers.  Some might think this is odd but I have my reasons for doing it this way.  There are exceptions.  More often than not the kids would come to ours in unsuitable clothing (too small, way too big, ripped or stained).  I could never let them leave our house dressed like that and also knew they would be forced to wear this clothing again if it went back to their mams.  So I would filter our bad clothing from their mams with clothing from ours that I didn't mind parting with.  I have been doing this for years. 

HOWEVER.  The kids are now 12 and 14 and are capable of wearing appropriate clothing and informing their mother when they need replacements, so I have stopped filtering out the bad clothing (unless it's socks with holes!).  Clothing has always been an issue for the kids at their mams, for some reason she refuses to keep up with it.  I know there are mountains of dirty washing in her house, and that she never sorts through the clothes to make sure her kids have clothing that fits.  Unless its a random splurge where she spends a ridiculous amount on clothes that are way too big for the kids with the attitude: "they wear it don't they".

SO recently I've caught my stepson trying to sneak clothes from ours back to his mams, he's even come here some days not wearing a t-shirt so that I'll HAVE to give him one to wear back.  He's told us in the past that he has no clean clothes at his mams so we've told him he's going to have to wash his own clothes then (He is capable of doing this just notoriously lazy).  We've explained it's not fair for us to have to provide him with clothes to wear when he's at his mams as it's not fixing the problem and our clothes will inevitably end up in a giant pile of dirty washing at his mams, he'll take more stuff from ours, you see where I'm going with this?

Today I caught him trying to sneak pajamas from ours.  His response was "I don't have any that fit at mams, I haven't told her they don't fit because I can just take ones from here"

I have never led him to believe this was the case so I don't know why he suddenly thinks this is acceptable.  An argument ensued and he went to his mams in a huff (without the pajamas).

Can anyone out there relate to this? I'm at a stage where I don't know how to get through to him.  HELP.


lieutenant_dad's picture

Agree with Gimlet above. I also think it's perfectly acceptable to not replace the clothes he has at your place, and then make it where he can't go out with you all because he doesn't have appropriate clothing.

"Sorry SS, you'll have to stay here for dinner. You don't have any appropriate clothing here. There are leftovers in the fridge."

"Sorry SS, looks like you don't have any pants, and it's too cold for you to go out with us without them. Looks like you're staying here."

 At 14, he can manage his own clothing, and asking his mother for clothing. If he runs out of clothes are you house and he absolutely needs something, hit up a cheap second-hand store or buy a single bag of white/black t-shirts. Nothing fancy, just something that gets the job done.

Aniki-Moderator's picture

Second-hand stores, indeed! Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul... DH and I buy a fair number of work clothes from those places and have found some real bargains. $2.50 for a pair of jeans that are barely worn; $3 for a men's cableknit sweater; $5 for a heavy plaid shirt with coordinating down-filled suede vest. I bought a cocktail dress (tags still on it) for $10 and turned it into a Halloween costume. 

Depending on OP's location, some chain stores give the leftover-from-the-season clothing to secondhand stores. A friend n a major city has seen Target clothes at the local Goodwill after the season ends.

tog redux's picture

I got all of SS's clothes from Goodwill, clearance racks and garage sales. You can find good stuff, even new stuff if you find a Goodwill in an affluent area.  Of course, SS didn't care what he wore, so that helped.

overworkedstepmother's picture

Thanks for the response!

I have been shopping at charity shops for years, especially when the kids were younger and would wear anything.  Thats why I didn't mind replacing their clothes to wear back to their mams.  Now it's slightly different but I do still get bits here and there.  :)  The problem is if I let him take stuff from ours it will not fix the problem at his mams.  He will just keep taking which I think is unfair.  Then I will have to buy more clothes for him and his mam doesn't.

Aniki-Moderator's picture

Then he can wear the clothes he arrives in all weekend. Maybe get a couple of cheap, boring t-shirts. 

ntm's picture

My 14-year-old does his own. You might have them watch a YouTube video for the type of washing machine she has. Also, go to Target and buy him a pair of jammie pants for her house. He can wear tees and sweatshirts with them. I know you shouldn't have to, but it won't cost much. Does he have a birthday coming up? 

Wicked stepmo.'s picture

I think most SPs have this issue. If DH pays CS there is no reason BM doesn't use it to buy clothes.

You are handling this well. But if it continues to be an issue I agree with starting to buy SD second hand clothes and tell him that is the consequence for his actions because you can't afford to keep buying him new clothes.

tog redux's picture

At 14, I'd stop buying him any new clothes if he took all of his to BM's and didn't bring it back. Perhaps if he has no clothes at either house he will stop doing it.