How do parents cope with runaway teenagers?
TITLE: How do parents cope when a young teenager runs away from home. Why do they do it?
We are writing this blog on the premise that the parents we are talking to love their children and have done all they feel they can for them.
We all know that raising children is not all love and light and yet when a young one chooses to leave home at a tender age for a seemingly minor reason, we can be left devastated and wondering where we went wrong.
Often we pose the question to our clients who are usually blaming themselves for everything that has gone wrong.. ”Where is your parent manual, you know the one that came with your life manual and it was given to you before you entered into this lifetime?” Of course there is no manual or manuals and as such we learn about life and parenting on the hop, so to speak.
So why do young ones runaway and how can we as parents cope? Paul and I have experienced this dilemma from both sides. Paul left home and school, branded unteachable, and was independent from the time he was 14. I ran away from home for 5 minutes at the age of 14 also, too scary out there on my own, Finally left at 19 to raise my own children and have lived through one of my sons leaving home permanently at 16. We can now see and understand much from both sides.
From experience we understand that when a young one leaves home, it is an attempt to spread their wings and shows a great deal of courage and determination on their behalf. When you see it from this perspective, it is easier to change how you view the situation to a more positive one. Be proud of them for having the courage to step out there or would you be prepared to have your child still living at home at the age of 31 with no confidence and independent living skills. We are not judging just offering the other polarity. If we hadn’t left home so early we wouldn’t be qualified to write this blog. Whether they are mature or truly ready to deal with the big world or not is another issue as lessons come hard and fast for many. Of course sometimes they leave because they live in an otherwise intolerable situation e.g abuse which comes in many forms. So the world outside is tame compared to their home life.
If the child really wants to go we have to let them go no matter how hard it is for us to do so and let them make their mistakes and gather their own learnings. This is called unconditional love. You are not being a bad parent by doing that, In fact it is an act of love and will show the child that you are prepared to trust them and allow them to make their own way into adulthood, with you there should they need your assistance. In truth none of us really don’t knows what the right path is for someone else. Let them know that the door is always open for them and keep the lines of communication open as best you can without portioning blame on anyone. In tribal situations most children step into adult hood around the age of 13 -14 and have gone through a rite of passage that has given them the knowledge they need to stand strong. Remember that Alexander the Great was a General at the age of 16. Today we live in a society that has become very soft, we call it the cotton wool approach. Children only break if their spirit is broken. Be strong and have the courage to take a back seat for awhile and trust that they will come to you when you are needed. Also let them know quite strongly, that if they leave that they are, from then on, responsible for their actions, lives and any mistakes made. This allows both sides to then move forward and grow. You will lose them if you try to force them to live your life, you will lose them if when they do come home you tell them off. Better to give them some freedom and trust. They will appreciate that more than any punishment you feel they need for all the grief they have caused. Just love them, warts and all and remember that you were young once and busting to explore life and all you were.