“What does a parent of a bipolar 23 yo do when she finds out that her child is writing checks from parent’s account and lying about it?”

531970_million_buck_cheque_1That’s a tough one. Forging checks is a felony, and lying is just plain wrong. My answer would depend on your history with your child. You do not state whether there is any remorse or if this sort of behavior is typical. At some point a 23-year-old, with or without a mental illness, needs to take responsibility for their life and their actions. Having a mental illness does not give a person a green card to abuse, steal, lie, manipulate, and the like.

Aside from the obvious action of hiding your checkbook, it seems to me that you have two options.

One: You can try to reason with your child. Let him or her know that this is unacceptable, that the money must be paid back, and that future acts such as this will result in an arrest. Then FOLLOW THROUGH with your threats if your child’s actions don’t improve.

Two: You can turn the matter over to the police. If these sorts of things have occurred repeatedly, this may be your best and only option.

If your child is acting this way purely as a result of manic reckless behavior and he or she is not being treated, or is refusing treatment, then things could spiral downward pretty quickly. Criminal behavior could escalate to outside the family. Treatment intervention is probably necessary. Unfortunately, the fastest way into the mental health care system is through our justice system—often help is only provided once an arrest or a series of arrests occur. Sadder yet, our primary mental health provider in this country is our justice system. And they do a lousy job of it!

Having said that, I would try your best to get your child the help he or she needs without getting the police involved. If your child is in treatment, talk to the practitioner about what’s going on; maybe they can provide some guidance.  I wish you the best with this sad situation.

5 thoughts on “Stealing

  1. I typically do not comment on articles I read or comments I see because of the mere fact that I truly never believed what I had to say would not help anyone. Reading both this question and response makes me sick to my stomach. That could have possibly been the worst advice ever given to any parent of a child with bipolar, especially an adolescent. I am also 23 and an evolving young adult into society and I also have a brother ,24, living with bipolar. I see his day to day life and his struggles. I strongly strongly suggest researching this mentail disorder. I have read multiple books on this topic because if its apart of his life it is apart of mine and I want to know everything about it. Progressive treatment is extremely important. Finding a good psychologist, that is dilligent and knowledgeable. Perserverance is everything.

    Theft is a common symptom of bipolar.I have experience it in my life as well, but you have to understand. They are not stable. People with bipolar are chasing the high once they are in their manic low state. Many disorders can occur simultaneously with the bipolar disorder on of which can be conduct disorder or oppositional defiant disorder. Better advice than hand your child over to the police would be consult their pshycologist and potential adjust their medication.

    Above all of that the most important thing you could ever do is to not treat them as if they have a disorder. Get them all the help they need and medication but never let them believe they can not be successful but this “disorder” is holding them back. Love them the same you would any other child. It is not their fault that their brain is not wired correctly.

    A great book to read for well rounded information is the bipolar child by Demitri Papoloa and Janice Papolos. The book balances scientific and clinical research on bipolar while giving real life experiences.

    And to that lady that commented above. Do not give advice on things you dont understand and clearly by your statement you do not understand one thing on bipolar.

  2. Hi Bailey,

    Are you asking me about my personal blog site or Ask a Bipolar? I’m so busy that I seldom post on my blog associated with my website:

    The rest of us authors at Ask a Bipolar try to answer as many questions as time permits! Thank you so much for reading!

  3. Kelsey,

    We all have our own viewpoints and we all have been through various experiences in our life. As one of the admins on this website, it is partly my job to pick the authors who respond to the questions submitted. Since you claim the author who responded to this question does “not understand one thing on bipolar,” I should divulge that the authors DO, in fact, HAVE bipolar disorder themselves and therefore do understand the disorder because they, just like your brother, live with it everyday.

    I also have bipolar disorder, blog for many other organizations, and, you can read my bio for my credentials, but to say that “they are not stable” is a complete generalization and not true. Not all individuals with bipolar disorder “are not stable.” In fact, with proper treatments through doctors and medications, they can be stable and living very normal lives. Also, your statement “people with bipolar are chasing the high once they are in their manic low state,” is also incorrect because “manic” is actually the high state which includes symptoms such as rapid speech, euphoria, feelings of grandiosity, basically, my roommate described me as looking like the Road Runner character from the Looney Tunes cartoons during those states because you are moving quickly from one thing to the next, you feel people can’t keep up. There is not a manic low state. The low state is depression.

    It is well known that bipolar disorder is comorbid with other illnesses and disorders, however, I have not read anything that says that “theft is a common symptom of bipolar disorder.” I have read dozens of books, interviewed many authors, etc., and theft has never been mentioned. Perhaps “engaging in risky behavior” is what you are referring to, but there are many types of behaviors that can be considered risky.

    However, I’m not here to debate your comment, but merely point out that our authors are chosen to give advice on issues pertaining to bipolar disorder because they have the experience through living with the illness themselves. I think its great that you take such an active role in your brother’s life and educating yourself on your brother’s illness, and perhaps you have another method of dealing with the issue of theft. That does not mean that this individuals method is not ok. Every person is different and respond to different treatments in different ways. Some individuals require a more loving and soft approach, some require a more harsh approach.

    It is great that you have opened up and given an alternative to the solution given by our author, however, to accuse an individual of not understanding one thing about bipolar disorder on a website called “Ask A Bipolar,” where the answers are clearly given by someone with the illness, is just rude. Our authors struggle with the illness just as much as anyone else and their advice is given based on their life experiences. Again, your alternative solution to the issue is appreciated since all viewpoints are encouraged and welcomed because life throws all of us different circumstances and what works for some, may not work for others. But, just because one solution is not the one you would use, does not make it wrong, or any less of a solution, and does not warrant the diminishing of the authors on this site.

  4. Dear Kelsey,

    Thank you for your comments. I agree with much of what you said. But….

    If you had read my answer fully or more thoroughly you would realize that my advice was not simply to turn this matter over to the police. This would be only used as a last resort in hopes of getting the individual into treatment before the situation turns to a full blow medical crisis.

    And far as giving advice on things I do not understand: I would never presume to do so. Along with many years of research, advocating, talking to hundreds of individuals who have lived directly or indirectly with bipolar disorder, being an active board member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, teaching an education class to family members, speaking nationally, struggling with my own bouts of mild depression, and writing books on the subject of mental illness, I have also lived under the same roof with loved ones struggling with these neurological brain disorders. So, I do understand a few things about bipolar disorder.

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