Question: My sister is constantly coming into my room when I'm not home and borrowing my clothes without permission. Sometimes when I get them back they are stained or ripped; other times I never get them back at all. I've complained to my mother about it, but all she says is that I should share my things with my family members. On top of it all, my mom makes me feel guilty about being selfish. What do you think?
Mom: Perhaps it's time for you and your family to rethink how you define the word "borrow." To truly lend something to someone indicates that the owner of the item (in this case, that would be YOU) has some idea what property is being loaned, has an expected date of return and has reasonable hope that said item will be returned in decent condition. Should the object in question return damaged or not be returned at all, the borrower should be responsible for making it up to the owner. For your sister to go behind your back and take your stuff without you knowing anything about is not -- repeat NOT "borrowing." It's a form of stealing. Sis is the one who should be feeling guilty, not you.
Tay: This is one of the moments I find myself happy with just having brothers. While I do agree with my mother about the definition of borrow, it does seem like you have tried talking to your parents. Move on to giving sister a taste of her own medicine. I'm not saying ruin her clothes, but I suggest you borrow things of hers you seem to like. Even better, borrow things of hers she really likes. Try not to be malicious about it but, maybe if your sister sees how it feels for people to take her things without permission, she may stop doing the same to you. If that's a little too vengeful for you, take a picture of your room/closet before you leave the house and then compare it to what you see when you get back. Make a list of your stuff. Maybe if your parents see how much "borrowing" is going on they'll intervene. Your last resort? Ask your folks for a door lock.
My Two Cents is written by Taylor Watson, a junior at Lancaster High School, and her mother, Deb Skok Watson, a school counselor/social worker at the Hopevale School District. To get your questions answered, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.