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Fourth-Grader Forged Mom's Signature
Q: My fourth-grader had trouble with a school assignment and received a bad grade. She forgot to have me sign it, so she forged my signature. She knew that if the paper was not signed, she would get detention.
The teacher and school therapist are very concerned that a child so young would forge a signature. I have explained to my daughter about her error and told her that it was okay as long as she tried her best. I'm not worried about my child. Should I be?
A: Unless there are several other instances of your daughter's lying that her teacher and school counselor are aware of, I do not believe that you should be unduly worried about her. Their response appears to be heavy-handed and an overreaction to an isolated incident. As for her teacher's worry about your daughter being too young to forge a parent's signature, I taught fourth grade and witnessed many "superb" forgeries by kids her age and younger.
Your daughter used poor judgment and acted out of character because she was scared and embarrassed. You have talked with her about lying and put her homework grades in a healthy perspective. She should not feel like she has suddenly become an untrustworthy student and daughter. The shame that she feels for her lying and forgery are adequate consequences.
Reassure your daughter that you still believe that she has good character and that she can always come to you when anything in her life becomes worrisome, confusing or frightening.
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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.