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Sticky Situation: Paying for a Gadget My Kid Borrowed

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Bent Kure/Flickr
Bent Kure/Flickr

Sticky situation:

I have been wondering about this for a while.

My child borrowed an iPod from a friend in school and did not let me know. She was actually being restricted from having a phone due to discipline issues. In secret, she used the borrowed electronic gadget and caused a great deal of drama on the Internet by sending harmful messages.

When I found out, I confiscated it and threw it away without realizing it belonged to someone else. At the time, it could have been possible that my daughter had stolen it. The other child's parent called me and told me to replace it.

I really did not think that it was my responsibility to replace the device. I paid for it, but feel that if this had been my teenager, lending an object to another teen, that it would be her responsibility and her loss. At least that is what my parents would have said.

I don't understand how that parent could have made such a request. We had never spoken before.

Isn't that a bit rude? Can you weigh in on what is the right thing to do?


As the mother of two adult sons, I understand all the trials and tribulations of rearing adolescents in the era of technology.

As parents and civil community members, I believe that we are responsible for our children and their actions. This does not mean that we cover up for them, but that we teach them how to take responsibility for their actions and guide them to make amends when they need to. Sometimes that means that we show them by example.

As an adult, you understand the accountability that comes with having someone's borrowed property. Had your child been upfront about the borrowed iPod, you would not have thrown it out. You did the right thing by paying for it.

Foremost, I hope that your teenager has apologized to her friend. If she hasn't, now is always a good time. A sincere "I am sorry" is very powerful. Seeing the hurt or the understanding in a friend's eyes could have a lasting impact and could change behaviors.

Since borrowing an object means that you are fully responsible for it until you give it back, and to follow in your parents' philosophy of making children accountable for their decisions, I recommend that your daughter repay you for the device. Whether she repays you with her allowance or by doing chores, will be up to the two of you.

Lastly, speak to your daughter about the consequences and dangers of harmful comments on the Internet. What may seem innocuous in teenage-hood could have lasting repercussions. There may even be a workshop or talk in your community. I am certain that her school's counsellors can guide you.

I hope that my recommendations enlighten you and that you find peace in your relationship with your daughter.

You have a sticky situation at work or at home? This is your forum. Write to Julie and she will reply promptly. Want more solutions to sticky situations? Go to Facebook, Twitter or order your autographed copy of Etiquette: Confidence & Credibility. Planning a conference? Julie happily travels coast to coast and beyond, to present customized activities. With Julie's help gone will be awkwardness, embarrassment and faux-pas.