Shayne on You: Missing money causes rift

Dear Maggie,

My husband and our seventeen-year-old son donít get along well as it is, and now itís reached a crisis point. Last week my husband, who plays in a small band, played at an event, and each of the band members was given $100 in cash as payment. My husband says he came home and put the money into his dresser drawer. The next day the money was gone. My husband and I had been out, and our son had been alone in the house.

So my husband believes our son took the money.

Our son has never stolen from us before, and he insists he is innocent. My husband is demanding to know who Iím going to believe, him or our son. If I love him, he says, Iíll believe him.

I donít know what to do, so Iím writing to you for advice. Please help.



Dear Torn,

Itís a delicate situation, to be sure. But letís look at the facts. Did anyone see your husband put the money in the drawer? Apparently not, so thereís no proof he actually did so. Did anyone see your son take the money? Apparently not, so thereís no proof he actually did so. The rule of thumb in law is that a suspect is innocent until proven guilty and thereís no proof here.

But this isnít a courtroom or a police station, this is a family, and this situation canít be handled with anything but the love of a family, or there will be permanent damage to every relationship within it.

I would turn this around on your husband a little bit. I would tell him yes, I love you, but I also love our son, and so do you. If you loved me the way you claim to, you wouldnít ask me to choose between you. But if you insist that I do, and thereís no evidence on either side, my only option is to believe what I want to believe. And I would far rather believe the money was misplaced or lost or taken by someone else, than to believe our son would steal from us. So thatís my choice. And now you have one to make. What do you love more? Me and our son, or that $100? Which is more important to you? The moneyís gone. Maybe it will turn up and maybe it wonít. But if you keep acting the way you are, youíll lose a lot more than that. Youíll lose your relationship with your son.

This would be a wonderful opportunity for some growth in their relationship. If your husband chooses to believe your son, gives him the benefit of the doubt, tells him that he would rather believe the best of him and that heís sorry for accusing him without evidence, thatís going to a go a long way toward starting the healing process that seems to be long overdue. And as for your son, even if he took the money, heís likely to feel too guilty to repeat such a betrayal. He might even return it. And if he didnít take the money, then this will help him forgive his dad for accusing him. Either way, this action on your husbandís part will show your son that his father loves him and trusts him. And when you give love and trust, you get it in return.

Try to look at this as an opportunity for these two begin to build a deeper understanding between them, to begin to get closer. You all know the rift between them began long before this incident. So let this be the catalyst that ends it at last.

Finally, and this the tough part for a mom, keep reminding yourself that this is between the two of them. You canít fix it for them. They have to want to fix it, and they have to do it themselves. You can encourage, suggest, guide, reassure them both of your love, and steadfastly refuse to take sides. But you canít do it for them. Itís a choice and only they can make it. In the end, what happened to that money isnít nearly as important as what happens from here on.

Itís only money. Money isnít nearly as important as love. If they focus on that, all will be well.

Good luck!


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