Sage Advice: Granddaughter's Larceny Creates Family Chaos

By Amy Dickinson | October 10th, 2018

Is this a secret worth keeping?


Dear Amy: I have two granddaughters; 11 and 14. We have a vacation home, and they come to stay for a week or two every summer.

While they were visiting this year, I noticed both girls trying on old clothes and jewelry from a closet. One granddaughter asked me if she could keep a gemstone pendant that she had found. It had belonged to my mother, and I was not ready to part with it. She seemed disappointed, but said she would put it back.

I didn’t think anything of it until after they left. When I went to go look for the pendant, I was unable to find it.

I emailed my son and asked if he knew if the girls had taken it. He said he didn’t think they would do something like that, and that I had probably just misplaced it.

A few weeks later, I received an envelope in the mail with the pendant inside. Inside was a note from my daughter-in-law, saying she had found it in the girls’ room, and was very sorry for what they had done. She asked that I not say anything to my son about it, for fear he would overreact, and that she would handle it.

My son has asked me several more times about the pendant, and keeps saying that it’s my fault for losing it, that I’m forgetful and absent-minded, and that I shouldn’t have accused his daughters. I have not said anything, and just keep saying that I hope it will turn up.

I do not like lying like this, but I also don’t like being accused of being absent-minded when I am not. What do you suggest?

– Gammy

Dear Gammy: Your son’s behavior toward you is evidence, perhaps, of how he overreacts, and why his wife is so careful around him. Why is he berating you? Is it possible that he is also blaming and criticizing you to his daughters – placing all of you in a terrible position? He seems to be using this episode to bully you.

The first time he asked you about the pendant (after its return), you could very easily have said, “Oh, it turned up. I’m wearing it right now, in fact!”

Your daughter-in-law did the right thing in returning this to you, but she should not have asked you to keep a secret from your son. She said she would handle this, but evidently she has not. It’s also not obvious that she has held her daughters accountable for their larceny.

You should let your daughter-in-law know that your son keeps inquiring about the pendant. Tell her that the next time he asks about it, you’ll tell him the truth. Ask her and the girls to come clean to him. They did a bad thing. It has been rectified. Keeping this a secret draws out the drama. I assume you have fully forgiven them. It’s time to move on.

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2018 by Amy Dickinson

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