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Double trouble in petty pilfering

A reader wonders how she should handle her twin boys staying silent on a school theft incident. 

QUESTION:

My husband and I have identical twin sons, aged 15. Only family and some friends can tell them apart. When they were younger they would delight in deliberately confusing people.

Six months ago one was involved in a petty pilfering incident at school. It was caught on a security camera. There was no doubt it was one of them, but which one?

The school decided to deal with the problem and both boys were disciplined. Neither boy would either own up or dob in his brother. The headmaster said we need not worry, it was part of teenage naughtiness, and their silence showed a high degree of sibling loyalty. What does the panel think?

ANSWER:

The panel believes the headmaster has treated the matter very sensibly. Reinforce to the boys that, although you understand their loyalty to each other, “petty pilfering” is still wrong. If their headmaster had not been so understanding, the consequences could have been much worse.

It is probably wise to have a discussion with your twins about their future. While it is expected identical twins will be very close, as they approach adulthood, they are likely to go in different directions. Their sibling will not always be there to back them up. Each must take responsibility for his own actions.

Make sure they understand you are disappointed in them and expect better in the future but do not try to force a confession. This could lead to unnecessary and unproductive tension. The panel suspects, as did the headmaster, this is an example of naughty teenage behaviour, which we all may have been guilty of at some time. Have the talk with your boys and then move on.

If you still feel uneasy, or are unsure how to approach the boys, it could be helpful to talk to a professional counsellor. A trained person, not emotionally involved, is often valuable.

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