Cable Stealing and Other Acts of Petty Theft

What's the harm in cable stealing? A lot, if you've got kids.

Children learn more from what they observe than what they are taught verbally. For instance, if you tell your children not to lie, and they see you lie, they are getting mixed signals. In those mixed signals, they are learning that what you say and what you do are inconsistent and therefore what you say is not what's important. If you don't even follow your own rules, why should your child? The lesson here is the old adage, "Practice what you preach," because "Do as I say and not as I do" is unrealistic as a way of parenting. You are a model and an example for your kids, so your behavior is the most important example your children have. With that moral lesson in mind, here are some things that parents should avoid doing.

Stealing Cable
It may be easy to get a converter box, or you may get a chance to get free cable television. The cable companies charge too much, so you're just evening the score, right? Wrong. If you're stealing cable, you're telling your child, "It's okay to steal when it's for your own benefit" by example. When your child turns around and steals something, you'll realize that you've set an example you didn't want your child to imitate. If you get a chance to steal cable and turn it down or pay for it instead, you teach your child the importance of conducting business fairly. That lesson is worth far more than anything you'd get from a free HBO hookup.

Stealing Office Supplies
It's not unusual for people to pocket a pen or two from the office. But if you're bringing home reams of paper, a stapler or boxes of paper clips, you're telling your child that it's okay to steal from an employer. Don't be surprised when your child comes home from her first job at the supermarket with bags of looted groceries, because you've taught her that petty theft is okay.

If you need office supplies at home, buy them. If you must borrow some things from the office, explain why you needed them to your child and that you're paying to replace them.

Remember, too, that office stealing goes beyond physical items. If you work from home and spend the day goofing off, or if you call in sick frequently on a whim, you're stealing time and pay from your employer. Your casual attitude toward your job will be observed and most likely repeated by your kids.

Getting Extra Change in a Store
It may feel like a reward if you receive incorrect change in your favor at a store. The clerk can't do math, store items are overpriced anyhow, you got a special deal…whatever your justification, your child learns that it's okay to steal when you're benefitting from someone else's mistake. When your child is faced with the same situation, he'll be sure to do the same thing. The clerk might get fired for having an inaccurate drawer at the end of the day, but your child will never know. If your child sees you return the extra money, he will learn that you value honesty and care about the welfare of others.

And while you're at the store, resist the urge to snack on things before you buy them, or to "sample" things without paying for them. It's a form of shoplifting and a habit that your child is sure to inherit.

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