When your kid forges your signature

Welcome to yet another chapter in the continuing saga of the Dinsdales’ attempted rearing of their youngest dayghter.

Yesterday after school Mrs D was going through 7th grader M’s backpack/folders with M, checking homework, etc. Mrs. D was surprised to come across a paper purportedly bearing her signature, which she had not, in fact, signed. It was a language arts assignment where M was to interview Mrs. D, and Mrs. D was to sign the paper upon completion.

Mrs. D expressed surprise, and said she had not signed the paper. M’s response was, “Yes you did. That is your signature.” Mrs. D asked M (twice) whether she was sure she intended to say that, and whether she wished to retract that statement. M maintained that it was her mother’s signature.

Mrs. D called me at work. When M got on the extension, she admitted to having signed it herself. She said she had forgotten to get it done, and had discussed the assignment with her mom, but had not completed it and had her sign it. So M signed it herself to avoid losing credit. The paper was in a different folder than the subject it concerned, and M acknowledged that she had meant to dispose of it before bringing it home, but had forgotten.

We informed M that the forgery itself did not bother us as much as the lying involved. If she had called us from school, she could have signed Mrs. D’s name and initialled it herself. Or even if she had forged the signature, if she had told us, we would not have been nearly as upset as when she tried to keep it from us, and then tried to convince Mrs. D that she did not recognize her own signature. Heck, if she had explained the whole situation, I’m not sure we would have been all that upset with her simply signing the assignment in her mom’s name.

So - what do you do in such a situation? What is your response? What can you do to try to change your daughter’s behavior? Is punishment appropriate? If so, what type? Specifically, among your responses do you have your kid write a note to her teacher explaining what she did, and asking that she lose the points involved in the assignment?


No. This would be overkill and embarassing to M. In my opinion she has learned her lesson. She’s not an idiot, she knew she did something wrong. She knew when she did it that it was something wrong. Eventually she will get the picture and not lie about such things. She’s young, she’s going to learn from her mistakes, and most likely not learn from those mistakes of her two older sibs…IIRC you do have three yes?

I should explain that last bit…Many times when there are three children of close proximity, they will all be a bit different, but the first two tend to be more alike than the third.* This can make the third child in some instances a bit of a black sheep. Many times the thrid child will follow the "school of hard knocks" when the other two siblings generally learned at a normal pace. Give her time Dinsdale, I know it must be difficult wanting to raise a good kid and seeing them possibly not follow the path you intended. But you and your wife seem like very decent people and I doubt she will stray too far from the good path…

*this if course is a generalization and not something that happens all the time.

Fooled another one. Excellent!

You say you are sure she has learned her lesson.
What makes you say that?
Exactly what lesson has she learned?

She got caught. Highly embarassing - take it from someone who once changed a D into a B on her report card and then forged her mother’s signature on it. I certainly never did that again, and I wasn’t so much as grounded. I think that most well-raised children hate disappointing their parents.

I just realized that the above post makes me sound like the biggest idiot in the world. :smack: Let me clarify - they were two separate pieces of paper. I didn’t change the grade and then submit the same piece of paper back to the teacher with the fake grade on it!

To be honest I got caught doing almost exactly the same thing when I was a kid. It’s not exactly scarred me for life, but it was embarassing at the time. It’s not really a big deal, when I read the title, I thought she’d forged your signiture on a cheque, or something as serious.

No one likes to get caught red handed, especially with an ill-fated attempt at lying a way out of it. I think the lesson she learned was not to lie to you guys, a lesson I am sure she has been taught about in the past. A lesson she will have to learn again, and maybe several more times. Teaching children not to lie is just that…teaching. Punnishment for lying is ok in my opinion, but if it doesn’t work then a different way of teaching the child not to lie is needed. I would think the phone call to you at work was a very good idea, little M realized she was wrong and had to confront you on it, which I am sure was a bit embarassing, and a bit scary…
Aversive experiences are usually enough to change a behaviour, but in an adolescent, it may take several aversive experiences to change said behaviour.
So I think the lesson she learned Dinsdale, is just a piece of a larger lesson not to lie to her parents. I think it is only part of the larger picture that lying is bad no matter who it is directed at. She’ll probably have to learn it a few more times…only the future will tell that though.

The very first time that I tried to forge anyone’s signature, it was one of my folks’ (I don’t remember if it was Ma or Pa). It was a note to get me out of gym class in junior high (God I hated gym class). I got busted. They told my folks and I don’t recall being grounded or having any particular punishment…if there was, it must have been very minor. But that feeling of having been such a profound disappointment to my folks was far and away enough to dissuade me from trying again. That was also the very last time that I tried to forge anyone’s signature.

I was thinking that perhaps the lesson she learned is to be better at covering her tracks!

It seems to me that if she is allowed to get credit for this assignment, then she has “gotten away with it” to some extent. Same way if I learned my kid shoplifted, I would make her return to object to the store.

At present, she is assigned a 5 page, double spaced, handwritten essay discussing various questions I wrote down on my commute home. (I initially was going to say 3 pages, but increased it to 5.) Such as, explain in her own words what she did that her parents are upset with, including any examples of similar activity in the past. Discuss whether this is desireable behavior. Whether she wishes others acted towards her in a similar fashion. What she thought our response should be. Etc. I told her that I would review and edit it, and would require rewriting until I considered it adequate. And she is not to watch TV or play videogames until she has what I consider an acceptable copy.

I must copy this and send to Mrs.Phlosphr. You see Dinsdale we are both professionals and are currently trying to have children…what you have written can not be added to, or built upon in my opinion. Very good reprocussive act on your part, one my wife and I are sure to remember when our litt’lins are trying to pull the wool over our eyes.

I would think the denial of TV and videogames for a set period, say a week, would be more than sufficient. It’s hard enough getting schoolwork done without extra stuff assigned by the 'rents.

Having been in the same situation and watched it crumble into a full-blown argument between my mom and dad, I’d recommend against the essay, just ground her from TV and the PlayStation for a week.

If that doesn’t work, Ima gonna smack her! :wink:

You are sending very mixed messages here.

  1. You are telling your daughter that it is NOT ok to lie to you.
  2. You are telling her that it IS ok to lie to the teacher, and that you might have backed her up on it, if she had called you.

Yes, the fact that she lied to you adds a personal level to the problem, but leaving emotions out, how is that different from lieing to the teacher (about having completed the assignment in the first place)?

Maybe M should have to contact the teacher (when there are no other students around) and inform the teacher of what she has done. Yes it will be embarressing, and M may lose her grade on it, but the grade wasn’t earned, and the embarressment was.

Dinsdale, you seem like a good guy who wants to do right by his kids, and I applaud you for that. However, (you knew that was coming, right?) I think making a big deal out of her punishment could unintentionally reinforce her. If she knows that a certain behavior will get her into trouble with you and lead to phone calls at work, essays, and talks with a teacher, she may actually be more likely to lie. When I was a kid, the amount of punishment I would receive if my parents found out was in direct porportion to my likeliness to lie about it; the stricter the puishment, the more I tried to weasel out of it. Example:

Mom: Did you break the lamp? If you broke the lamp, you’re going to pay to replace it.

Me: The truth.


Mom: Did you crash the car into the house? If you did, we’re taking your license and you will not even be allowed inside a car for the next year unless it is being driven by one of us.

Me: Lying out my ass.

I don’t know, I can only speak for myself, but maybe your daughter thought you’d be extremely angry if you knew she’d forged the signature, and so thought she might get out of it by lying, whereas if she felt you wouldn’t be all that angry she might have admitted it right away. This is typical kid reasoning. Maybe you should try explaining to her what you told us, that it was the lying that really angered you, and that in future it would be much better for her to come to you and admit the truth, since lying will only make the situation that much harder for her. I forget how old one is in 7th grade; 12 maybe? That seems old enough to have one of those ‘trust’ talks with her, where you can emphasize that as the parent, she needs to trust you enough to tell you the truth even when that truth isn’t pleasant.

Anyway, good luck. She sounds like a good kid who just screws up a bit every now and again, and really, who among us doesn’t? Bad decision making skills are pretty much par for the course when you’re a kid, and it doesn’t improve all that much for a lot of adults, either.

Olent - mom and dad are in agreement on this, so I don’t see it devolving into disagreement between us.

She doesn’t have so much homework that this will break her - especially if she is not watching TV and playing vids. If she wanted to, after school she could easily have a snack, do her homework, and practice her instrument before I get home at 5:30. (Of course, loyal followers of the Dinsdale Saga will recall that getting M to do her homework and study is another ongoing issue…)

I think there are often multiple benefits to writing things down in a situation such as this. Such as when you write a letter to a freiend or family member setting forth how you truly feel, even if you don’t intend to send it.
-I think the act of writing helps a person sort out what they think and how they feel. And putting things in writing requires one to view and phrase things differently than they might in an oral exchange. For example, whining, crying, and other ploys for sympathy may not translate so well onto paper.
-I also think that it has the potential to serve as a reminder in the future. Not to throw it in her face, but just to a reminder of the grounds that have previously been covered, to hopefully carry matters forward instead of repeatedly and ineffectually covering the same ground.
-Having us edit it allows her to get and respond to meaningful feedback.
-I also think it creates at least the possibility for constructive response, as opposed to the more passive route of simply prohibiting TV.
-Finally, she has control over how long the “punishment” lasts. If she makes a good effort, shows a good effort, and responds meaningfully to my written comments, she could well be watching TV tomorrow - having hopefully learned something. Hell, if nothing else, at least she will gain experience writing a 5-page paper! Instead of simply waiting for an arbitrarily selected date to arrive.

As always, you are all certainly free to fuck up your own kids in your own fashion! :smiley:

A final coupla thoughts before I actually try to get some work done here. (Aw heck, who am I kidding?!)

YMMV, but we have always stressed as one of the most important things in our family, that we are willing to forgive a family member just about anything, but that we want to hear about it from our family member, instead of a 3d party. And we really stress honesty. Same way we always try to fully and honestly respond to any question the pose. and I mean ANY question. Also a big issue, because Mrs D’s dad is a pathological liar. When she was 22 she learned he was a bigamist and that she had 2 half-siblings. So we are very aware of how much dishonesty can hurt a family.

Works for us in any number of contexts. Such as, if you are stranded, drunk, whatever, call us anytime to drive you home from anywhere. Even if we are upset, we will be far more upset if we learn that you got a ride home from an impaired friend, etc. If you are experimenting with sex, drugs, booze, cigarettes, etc., talk to us about it, so as to make intelligent choices. On more pedestrian level, if you mess up some homework or a test, let us know and we’ll help you study, etc. Instead of being blindsided with a bad grade on a report card. Or if you have a falling out with a friend, don’t keep us wondering why so-and-so doesn’t call and won’t return your calls.

Sure, it sounds unrealistic and possibly stupid written down like that in a quick message board post, but so would a whole bunch of choices we make as parents. Hell, we’re just making it up as we go along!

I think you are overreacting. I agree with Ratty in that by having such a thorough punishment is going to reinforce not getting caught instead of not doing it again. She did something that most kids that age do. You called her on it. She confessed. Don’t get me wrong - I think the essay is a good idea, but that you’re using that particular punishment card at too early a stage on too small of an offense.

Dinsdale - first, lots of sympathy and empathy here. We’ve an eighth-grader who has always been a bright kid, but recently, she’s pulled a few things so incredibly stupid we have seriously been wondering if she’s taken leave of her senses completely. We went through a bout of lying when she was three, but it was brief, and we were patting ourselves on the back for being such wise parents as to handle that well. Now, at almost-14, the lies are back and they’re such STUPID lies she can’t even possibly think we won’t catch her in them.

Example, from last night: I asked her to fold the clothes in the dryer and throw the clothes from the washer into the dryer. Two minutes later, she’s back on the computer. Me: “Did you fold those clothes?” Her: “Yup.” Me: “That was fast…” An hour later, I go to remove the clothes from the dryer and find the dryer STUFFED with black clothes and white clothes. Now, I’m fairly certain I didn’t wash darks and whites together (I’m very discriminatory that way) so I ask her if she threw the dark clothes into the dryer with the white clothes and did not, in fact, fold the white clothes as asked. “No,” she said, totally straight-faced, “I folded them.”

Me: “Do I look stupid?”
Her: “um…no?”

This is really a small-potatoes lie, but you know, if she would make such a stupid, obvious lie about such a small thing, what else would she lie about? I can actually understand a big lie to get oneself out of the doghouse - it COULD work, maybe, and that’s a chance worth taking for a kid sometimes - but sheesh!

In short, I have no advice, as I am perplexed about how to deal with this myself. I’m trying to keep my cool and pick my battles wisely, and I’m pretty sure this is just a phase as she tests her boundaries, but it’s really frickin’ irritating!!

LoW - I feel your pain! Did you make your bed? Did you brush yur teeth? Do I have to check to see if you wiped your friggin ass?

My recommendation - smack her - or do nothing - or do something entirely different. Does that help? :wink:

It is hard to separate all the emotions, isn’t it, and try to make sure that only the appropriate ones are reflected in your reaction?

How stupid do you think I am?
How lazy can you be?
Are you aware of how much I do around the house without asking your help?
And not only can I trust you, but do I have to monitor every miniscule aspect of your life, in addition to trying to stumble through my own?
Etc. ad infinitum.

But I agree with you comment on, if she is lying about this, why should I believe she is telling the truth about other, more important things. Just part of the fun we signed up for by having unprotected sex, I guess.

(And I actually DID get a couple of minutes worth of work done between posts!)