Teen Fired from Job

A parent wonders whether her son should receive additional punishment at home for a major mistake that cost him his job.
Our 17-year-old son was just fired from a job he had held for a year and a half at a grocery store. He was fired because he gave $80 worth of groceries to a friend for free. Is losing his job and the trust of his co-workers and family enough, or should he be punished at home, too?
Your son is suffering the logical consequences of his crime. He is fortunate that the owner of the store did not prosecute him and place him in the court system. It may have served him better to have appeared before a judge who most probably would have assigned him some form of community service in addition to paying back the cost of the groceries that he stole.

I hope this was an isolated instance of theft. I'm sure that you have asked him if he has done similar things like this before. If he has, this would be an appropriate time for him to unburden himself and to confess to any other such illegal activities. Confession is good for the soul and you need to promise him forgiveness and understanding, along with your expected disappointment and shock, if he chooses to confess other illegal acts.

Now is the time to offer him a chance for redemption in your eyes. He has betrayed the trust and lost the respect of the store-owners, his co-workers, and his family. That loss should be ample punishment for a young man who has brought shame upon himself and his family. I would refrain from any home punishment. I suggest that you have a continuing series of discussions with him about his values, his level of remorse, and how he plans on living differently to reestablish trust with you and the other people that were affected by his crime. By learning from his poor judgment in this matter, he may become an even more moral man of character. Continuing to shame him will not help him recover and improve. Reminding him of his innate goodness and allowing him to prove his worthiness once again should be the focus. Help him reclaim his dignity. He will learn much about himself and his family by your response to this unfortunate incident.

Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.