Number of kids: 2
Ages of kids: 13 and 15
Problem: Our son, JD, has decided that he no longer needs to listen to or obey his parents. Last Fall he ran away from home five times. Each time we reported him to the police. He was finally arrested for fleeing the police. After a month in juvenile detention he was released on electronic house arrest. Within a week he was sneaking smokes and pushing all of the rules around the house.
After a month and a half he cut off his electronic monitor and ran away again. Since we live in Indiana the weather was unforgiving. The arresting officer had him hospitalized for exposure and frostbite. He has since been sentenced to 6 months in county lockup.
Our problem is, what do we do when he is released in 5 months. He shows no remorse for his actions and has told us that he's not going to change. We are legally required to report him as a runaway when he leaves. When the police arrest him we are legally required to take him back.
Solution submitted by Cindy from Kingsville, Ont, CAN : Our family is from everywhere. Two were his (with an ex-wife) and 2 were mine from 2 different late husbands. They were young at the time when we brought everyone together as a family. It was hard . We had to be careful not to show too much to one and not enough to the other. My son was the problem at 15. He ran away and I called the police. They asked why bring him home he will only run again. They were right. They can't do anything discipline wise. So I went to talk to him. I never brought him home. I told him that it wasn't wise to cut the family apart yet. We needed him but it was his decision. He didn't like the rules at home but after 3 days he found that no matter where he went there were rules. He cried to come home and I helped him (calmly) to quit smoking cigs. and drugs. Changed his school and he just graduated. He ran 4X.
They like the attention on one hand but want what they want on the other. You must be firm. It's toughlove but the word "love" can mean so much. He recently tried to get his own apartment. He's out and working and it lasted 4 weeks. He's 20 and still at home paying room & board with no intentions of leaving. He wasn't a bad kid, he was hanging with the wrong crowd and trying new things. The school he attended allowed him 15 absent days without one call to us. That's why we changed schools I hope I've helped a bit.
Another solution submitted by Jim from Victoria, TX: I want you to know that you are not alone. My son has run away 3 times in the last year. Each time he is sorry and it will not happen again. Every time we call the police. We have tried counseling and it appeared to be the best solution. Unfortunately, we stopped the counseling to soon last time. I try to enforce the fact that we love him and we will always love him. We call all of our family, grandparents, aunts, and uncles and get the whole family involved so he knows we care. He knows when he comes home he will have to pay. He is shut off from the outside world until he seems OK again. The first time he ran away, I got mad and yelled at my son. I do not take that approach anymore. Now I just sit him down, talk it out, and discuss his punishment. Good luck.
Another solution submitted Christy from Sumner, WA: Teenagers are very sensitive to every step and misstep that we as adults make. They are (and will always be) the first to show us when we have made mistakes. It would be narrow minded to put all the blame on the child in this case, as would it be to blame the adult. BOTH adult and child need to go into counseling to learn communication skills. Shouting, yelling, slamming doors, making threats, and walking away (or running) are all aggressive ways to deal with issues. You need help to learn how to deal with day to day issues. Placing monitoring devices on a child of any age isn't an answer. I treat my children with the respect I would want to receive for myself. I think if parents put themselves into their child's shoes, they would change the way they did things.
Another solution submitted "Cuckoonest" from Montreal, QC, CAN: Obviously, if someone runs away, that's because he believes he will be happier that way. No matter how strange it may sound to the parent.
To create a different environment for your teen is not the same as "losing" or taking the blame on yourself. For instance, try to get in touch with your teen's interests. If it interests you too, that may build up into rewarding moments for communication. Why don't you try alternative schooling? After awhile, your son will be forced to do something by himself and life in general.
To threaten with hate or jail is unlikely to give result. Who knows if the next time he will not be tempted to escape to a jurisdiction where you will have no power at all? I lived in Vancouver for awhile (where teens can have their own aptartments from age15) and while some were able to get by, its probably not what you wish nor what he wishes.
I know it may be hard at times to stay kewl with teens...but if you create an attractive landscape, the horse should stay.
Another solution submitted Mark from Irvine, CA: I can not claim to be an expert on this subject since my children are obviously too young and I never ran away myself. Though, I did have a few friends run away when we were teenagers. Everyone of these kids felt alienated from their parents. You have a serious problem and it is not one-sided. As difficult as it is to admit, some portion of the problem is yours. You need to find out what is wrong before you can solve the problem. You will have to be the first to act. The only one of my friends that stopped running away did so after changes by his parents. After awhile he started changing his actions too. Be prepared for the long haul. For my friend it took over a year for consistent effort by his parents before he believed they were not trying to trick him. His parents received both professional and spiritual help the whole year and for some time after that. My friend eventually did the same.
By the way; the electronic monitor....bad idea. If I had to pick the number one way to show I did not respect or trust my child, I think that would be it.
I wish you the best of luck. God Bless
Another solution submitted by Sue from Brunswick, ME: To the man who responded (above) & blamed the parents: I do not agree that the first thing that needs to change is the parents. I have not yet had a child run away, but I have a child who is at risk for it. She has been defiant since the day she was born, and since she turned 12, she has been totally uncontrollable. She does what she wants, when she wants. No form of punishment or rewards is helpful. I have tried grounding (she just runs out of the house), I take away TV & Computer & CD's (She either gets violent or goes to bed for days), Family Meetings (refuses to participate), contracts (refuses to sign), The police have been to our house several times because she has physically assaulted us. She has been in counseling since the 3rd grade, but gets no where. None of these counselors (after getting to know her and know us) think that it our fault (the parents). We have another daughter who is just the opposite. She is a Presidential scholar and has never been in trouble in her life. The counselors and psychiatrist all have different opinions what to do with her: she has been labeled everything from ADD, Oppositional-Defiant Disorder, Conduct Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, and Major Depression. It is very clear to me that she has had some kind of problem since birth, and that adolescence escalated the problem. Her parents are not like some of those you see on talk shows who seem so ignorant. We are very caring parents (maybe not perfect) who have bent over backwards to help this kid. And I do not mean that we spoiled her. We have always given her consequences for bad behavior, but right now there are no consequences that work. The counselors do not want her to be kicked out of the house yet until we get a handle things.
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