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Teens With Sticky Fingers Find Mom's Stashed Cash

DEAR ABBY: My wife likes to leave money hidden in the house or car as her little ATM. The problem is, one or both of our teenagers discover her stashes and the money disappears. We have had a family meeting about it, yet it continues. I have argued for years with her that part of the problem is leaving money around, not cleverly hidden.

My wife blames one kid who she wants to kick out, but what if it's the other? Now she's blaming me for not solving the problem. Yes, it's terrible, but she has fed the impulsiveness and refuses to change her ways. She wants us to be on the "same page," but that usually means her page. Any ideas? Family counseling? -- DAD IN THE MIDDLE

DEAR DAD: Your wife may want to place the blame on you, but there is more than one problem happening in your household. The first is her insistence on leaving money where it's tempting a teen (or two) who steals. Second, you don't know who is taking the money and what it's being used for. Third is your wife's idea that a quick fix would be to throw a dependent child out.

It may take the services of a licensed marriage counselor to mediate an agreement between the two of you to work cooperatively together. If your wife needs money, the only ATM she should use is one that's connected with your bank rather than the cookie jar. Your teens should both be tested for drugs and evaluated for emotional problems. After that, family counseling might help you all communicate more successfully with one another.

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