Q. What should I do if my 13-year-old son is constantly taking my clothes without telling me? It happened this morning with a pair of jeans. Even my teenage daughter sleeps in my long-sleeve T-shirts, and my 11-year-old son has hijacked my supply of white T-shirts. I’m a frustrated dad.
A. “This is a classic case of the need to set limits,” says Valley Stream therapist Don Sinkfield. “First and foremost you need to say, ‘Daddy’s clothes are Daddy’s clothes.’”
Sinkfield’s kids are only 5 and 9, so he says he hasn’t had to face this issue himself — yet. But he says your kids may be thinking that because you love them, you don’t mind sharing all of your things with them. Short of locking your closet and hiding the key, you need to explain to your kids that sharing can feel like a violation when there are no limits on it and that they need to ask you if they want to borrow something of yours. Explain to them: “It doesn’t make me feel good when I can’t find my items.”
You could consider making some of your clothes available to them to share, with the rest of your things off limits unless you specially agree that they can wear them on a certain occasion, Sinkfield says. Or, if you find they are always borrowing the same style clothes you could consider giving them some goals to accomplish with the incentive being that you would purchase them their own identical items, Sinkfield says.