It’s every parent’s worst nightmare—you go to check on your child in the middle of the night, and she’s not there. Your heart starts pounding and you fly into panic mode, calling her friends, your relatives, and the police.

Whether or not your child has run away or threatened to do so—or you fear that she might—it’s vital that you read this article. James Lehman has worked with runaway teens for many years, and in this new EP series he explains why kids run away, ways you can stop them, and how to handle their behavior when they come home.

[Editor’s Note: The intent of this article is to support parents in situations where their child uses running away as a faulty problem-solving skill in response to rules or limits that are being set in the home. Sometimes there are underlying issues that may influence a child or teen to run away. This article is not intended to address situations that may possibly involve abuse, neglect or other issues.]

“Kids who threaten to run away are using it for power.”

Any child can run away at any time if the circumstances are right. Believe me, if they’re under enough stress, any kid can justify running away.

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Don’t forget, running away is like any action. In order to do it you need three things: the ability, the willingness and the opportunity. And let’s face it, kids have the opportunity and ability to run every day—so all it really takes is the willingness to do it. That willingness can develop for a variety of reasons. It could be a stressful situation your child is under, a fear of getting consequences for something they did, a form of power struggle, not wanting to go to school, or a substance abuse problem.

Another factor is that kids often idealize running away and develop a romanticized view of life on the streets. In reality, it’s awful: you’re cold, you’re hungry and it’s dangerous, but adolescents often see it as an adventure or the key to freedom, where “No one is going to tell me what to do.”

Why Kids Run Away

Many kids run away because of drug and alcohol abuse. When teens and pre-teens get involved in substance abuse, they may leave home to hide it so their parents don’t find out. These kids are often using a lot more than their parents know; they want to use more freely and openly, so they run away.

In addition to fear or anger, feelings of failure can also cause kids to leave home. Some children run away because it’s easier to live on their own than to live in a critical home. I remember being 15 years old and living in a hallway in the Bronx in winter. I didn’t miss home at all because I felt like such a failure there. Sadly, kids with behavior management problems or learning disabilities often get tired of the feeling that they just can’t get it right; it’s easier for them to run than to fix the problem. Often, they don’t know that what they’re facing can be dealt with using other strategies.

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In my opinion, the main reason why kids run away is because they don’t have good problem-solving skills. Running away is an “either/or” kind of solution; it’s a product of black-and-white thinking. Kids run away because they don’t want to face something, and that includes emotions they don’t want to deal with. The adolescent who runs away has run out of problem-solving skills. And leaving home—along with everything that is overwhelming them—seems to solve their immediate problems.

Episodic vs. Chronic Running Away

I think it’s very important to distinguish between kids who run away episodically, and those who are chronic runners. The reasons behind the actions are quite different, and it’s crucial to know what they are.

Episodic Running Away

When your child runs away after something has happened, it can be viewed as episodic running away. It’s not a consistent pattern, and your child is not using it as a problem-solving strategy all the time. It’s also not something they use to gain power. Rather, they might be trying to avoid some consequence, humiliation or embarrassment. I’ve known kids to leave home because they were caught cheating in school or because they became pregnant and were afraid of their parents’ disapproval.

Chronic Running Away

Kids who consistently use running away to gain power in the family have a chronic problem. Realize that chronic running away is just another form of power struggle, manipulation, or acting out; it’s just very high risk acting out. They may threaten their parents by saying, “If you make me do that, I’ll run away.” They know parents worry; for many, it’s one of their greatest fears. Some parents may engage in bargaining and over-negotiating with their kids over this when they shouldn’t because they’re afraid. But you need to understand that kids who threaten to run away are using it for power. This not only gives them power over themselves, but power over their parents and their families as well. When a parent gives in to this threat, their child starts using it to train them. For example, a parent in this situation will learn to stop sending their child to their room if he or she threatens to run away each time it happens. I want to be clear here: kids who chronically threaten to run away are not running away to solve one problem. They’re running away because that is their main problem-solving skill. They’re trying to avoid any type of accountability.

Are there Warning Signs?

Unfortunately, there are no real hard-and-fast signs that indicate your child is about to run away. Certainly, you can look for secretive behavior, the hoarding of money, and things of value disappearing around the house. If you ever notice this happening, don’t turn a blind eye: trust your gut. You probably already know that something is up, whether it’s substance abuse or your child’s desire to leave home.

A Step-by-Step Way to Teach Your Kids that Running Away Won’t Solve Their Problems

Teach Problem-Solving Skills

The most important thing you can do is teach your children problem solving skills. Ask them, “What can you do differently about this problem? What are some ways we can deal with this problem?” Always approach something as a problem that needs to be solved, and reward your child when they are able to do it successfully. Be sure to say things like, “I liked the way you solved that problem, Josh. The teacher was upset, but you went up and apologized. That took guts. And now she has a better opinion of you. I’m really proud of you.” As much as possible, praise your child when he does something positive.

Create an Atmosphere of Acceptance

Unconditional love is an idea that is used a lot in parenting, but different people mean different things by it. Some people say “unconditional love” but what they mean is “co-dependency.” When I say unconditional love, I mean “I can’t love you any less if you do poorly and I won’t love you love anymore if you do well. If you get an A I won’t love you any more. If you get a D I won’t love you any less. I love you.” I think it’s important for parents to have that kind of atmosphere in their house and to reinforce it with their kids. It’s also good for parents to say, “It’s okay to make mistakes around here.” Make it clear to your child that “the way we handle mistakes in our home is by facing up to them and dealing with them.”

Check in with Your Child

All parents should have a system where they check in with their kids frequently. Just stop and ask, “How’s it going? Anything you want help with?” You can say this two or three times in one day; go by their room and knock on the door. That way you’re constantly giving your child hypodermic interest and affection. You’re saying, “I’m interested in you, I care.” This is a skill that parents can build; it doesn’t always come naturally. I understand that parents who have worked all day come home and they’re tired. My wife and I were both social workers and when we came home, the last thing we wanted to do was talk some more. But we trained ourselves to do that so our son would know we were interested and that we cared. You never lose when you show that to a child.

Talk to Your Child if You Think He’s at Risk of Running

If you think your child is at risk of running away or you know that his friends have done so, you want to sit down and talk with him. Always temper your comments about other kids’ behavior by what your child might be thinking. They hear you when you say, “Oh, that little hoodlum, if my kid ran away, he’d never come home.” As a parent, you need to be careful about who’s listening. What you really want to say to your child is, “If you screw up and run away, don’t hesitate to come back and we’ll talk about it.” And if your child says, “Talk about what?” I would say, “Talk about how to solve the problem differently.”

Responding to Threats

When your child threatens to run away, I think you should respond by saying, “Running away is not going to solve your problems. You’re going to have to take responsibility for this. And by the way, if you do run away, you’re still going to have to face this problem when you come home.” And then tell them what will solve their problems: “These are the family rules and learning to deal with the family rules is going to solve your problems. Not running away from them.”I think you can give warnings, as well. You might say, “Listen, if you run away, I can’t stop you, but it’s dangerous out there. I won’t be able to protect you. So not only will you not solve your problems, you’ll also be putting yourself at risk. Bad things happen to kids and that’s the risk you’re taking. I don’t think it’s worth it, Jenna.” As I mentioned before, you can also try to get them to take a time-out by saying, “Why don’t you just calm down for five minutes and then let’s talk about it.”Many families I’ve worked with wound up dealing with constant threats by saying, “Look, if you run, you run. But these are still our family rules.” At some point, they stopped giving in because they realized it wasn’t effective or healthy for their families or their child.

“I’m Outta Here!” When Your Child is about to Leave: 3 Things Parents Can Do in the Moment

Many kids leave home in the heat of an argument with their parents or after some major event. This action is probably not spontaneous—your child might have been considering how they will run away for quite some time. If you sense your child is about to leave, here are a few things you can do or say to stop them:

1. Try to Get Them to Calm Down

Try to get your child to calm down for five minutes. You can say, “Why don’t you sit right here in the living room and take a timeout. I’ll be back in five minutes.” I wouldn’t tell your child to go to his room; have him stay right there in the living room or kitchen. It’s not a good idea to send him to his bedroom. This is because if he goes there and gets the impulse, he’s going to climb out the window.

2. Ask “What’s Going on?” Not “How are You Feeling?”

When you talk to your child, don’t ask him how he’s feeling; ask him what’s going on. All kids want to argue about how they’re feeling—or they want to deny that they’re feeling anything at all. Often parents get stuck there. So instead of, “Why are you so upset?” try asking, “What’s going on? What did you see that made you want to leave?”

3. Use Persuasive Language

A really good question to ask your child is, “So what’s so bad about this that you can’t handle it?” After he or she tells you, you can say, “You’ve handled stuff like this before. Kids your age deal with this all the time and I know you can do it. So you screwed up, it’s not the end of the world. Face what you’ve got to face and then let’s get on with life.” That kind of reasoning is called “persuasive talking.” As a parent, you’re not giving in, but you’re trying to persuade your child that they’re okay. I used this approach successfully in my practice with kids all the time; I found that many teens yield to that type of persuasion.

Remember, kids run away from problems they can’t handle. It’s in our culture. Adolescents often see running away as a way to achieve a sense of power and independence. They don’t understand that it’s false power and independence, however, because they can’t take care of themselves in a legitimate way on the streets. Still, those feelings can be very ingrained for some kids. Personally, I think the most important thing for a child to learn is how to solve his problems differently. Your child is going to have to face whatever he’s avoiding eventually, and it’s of the utmost importance that he understands that critical life lesson: “Eventually, you’re going to have to face this.”

When your child is out on the streets, you feel powerless, afraid and isolated. And if they decide to come home, your joy can quickly turn to dread as you see them fall into the old patterns of behavior that caused them to run in the first place. In Part II of “Running Away”  James explains what you can do when your under-age child runs away, and how to handle their behaviorand give them consequences— when they come home.

Related Content:
Teens and Privacy: Should I Spy on My Child?

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James Lehman, who dedicated his life to behaviorally troubled youth, created The Total Transformation®, The Complete Guide to Consequences™, Getting Through To Your Child™, and Two Parents One Plan™, from a place of professional and personal experience. Having had severe behavioral problems himself as a child, he was inspired to focus on behavioral management professionally. Together with his wife, Janet Lehman, he developed an approach to managing children and teens that challenges them to solve their own problems without hiding behind disrespectful, obnoxious or abusive behavior. Empowering Parents now brings this insightful and impactful program directly to homes around the globe.

Comments (36)
  • Tausha

    I have a 17 year old daughter that threatens to run away or demands emancipation every time I tell her “no” to something she wants. She says terrible things to me when she threatens leaving/ demands emancipation. Today she wanted me to fly her boyfriend across the country to visit her for her birthday. I do NOT approve of her bf, but I don’t tell her that or interfere in their “long distance relationship” BUT I did tell her I was not able to do that. She said “emancipate me then” and “I’m leaving” and I today, because I’ve had enough, I told her ok, if that’s what you think will make you’re life better. I told her she will not take anything that belongs to me. (Her cell phone that I pay for) and that I would NOT be taking her on a trip back to GA ( where we moved from, where her bf lives) on a trip we’ve been planning for in the spring, if she leaves here. I also told her that she is always welcome here and has a safe place where she belongs- at home.

    But I can’t continue to argue with her about leaving, and I can’t continue to have her speak to me horribly and scream at me. I have another child in my home. She’s telling me that a friend of hers that’s 18 is buying her a plane ticket to Georgia for next week. What am I supposed to do while she is here and just waiting to leave? She’s walking around on top of the world, like she’s so proud of herself and wants me to be happy for her too.

    I’m at a complete loss for if I’ve handled this right, and what I’m supposed to do next....

  • In need of advice
    I have a 13 yr old daughter. Our family has been through some tough times within the past year. Their mom passed away last July, my wife. A few months later I took a job promotion out of state and we moved half way across the country. My daughter hasMore not adjusted at all, refusing to go to school, not even doing digital learning. She has made not a single friend in our new place and spends her days communicating with her old group of friends where we used to live. She is so disengaged at home and constantly communicates with her old friends. She ran away in late may but was gone for less than 24 hours (thank god for find my iPhone) as the police found her very quickly. Fast forward to today. I found a checklist of things she needed to survive on the streets and a list of her old friends. She was planning on running away, going half way across the country and plans on living with her old friends. When I asked her about the list, she blew up and said she hates it here, hates ,e for moving to a new city and hates her life. She wants to be with her old friends and will do anything to make that happen. She even said I am a horrible parent, she has always hated ,e since we moved and she fakes being nice to me because she wants nothing to do with me. I have no idea what to do. Anytime I talk to her, she puts on a “front” and tells me what I want to hear so I will leave her alone. I could really use some advice and some help. I have no immediate family where I live and don’t know who to turn to. I know she hasn’t dealt with the loss of her mom and adjusted to our new city. I understand that she feels like everything has been taken from her, which it has but she has to face her new reality and make something out of her life. I need help... please.
    • Denise Rowden, Parent CoachEP Coach

      Hi, Jasen. Welcome to Empowering Parents. I can understand your distress. This is a bit outside the scope of what we are able to offer coaching or advice on. I encourage you to see what types of local supports may be available to help you and your family. The 211 National Helpline is a referral service available 24 hours a day, nationwide. They can give you information on the types of support services available in your area such as counselors, therapists, support groups/kinship services as well as various other resources. You can reach the Helpline by calling 1-800-273-6222 or by logging onto 211.org.

      We appreciate you reaching out and sharing your story. Be sure to check back and let us know how things are going.

  • Sherry
    Any info on how to block dangerous sites and social media generally where a child invites unknown predators in conversation?. How do we stop an inquisitive teenager - to truly know that the dangers ARE serious?
    • In need of advice
      I have a 13 yr old daughter. Our family has been through some tough times within the past year. Their mom passed away last July, my wife. A few months later I took a job promotion out of state and we moved half way across the country. My daughter hasMore not adjusted at all, refusing to go to school, not even doing digital learning. She has made not a single friend in our new place and spends her days communicating with her old group of friends where we used to live. She is so disengaged at home and constantly communicates with her old friends. She ran away in late may but was gone for less than 24 hours (thank god for find my iPhone) as the police found her very quickly. Fast forward to today. I found a checklist of things she needs to survive on the streets. I asked her what this was and she was planning on taking off again. Her goal is to get back to our old city and live at her friends house. She said she hates it here and hates me for moving to a new city. Her days are consumed with hatred for me and keeping in touch with her old friends. I at at a loss on what to do and could really use some advice.
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      You ask a great question. It’s pretty common for teens and parents to view the potential dangers of the internet differently, mainly due to where teens are in their development. A common aspect of adolescence is that teens tend to think of themselves as invulnerable and invincible. More Thus, when adults try to convince them of potential risks, teens tend to think along the lines of, “Well, bad things happen, but not to me. I’m too smart and too strong for that.” This doesn’t mean that you are helpless, however. You can continue to talk with your child about possible dangers and implement rules around internet and social media use, as well as using other resources like parental controls to enforce these rules. You might find additional tips in Your Child’s Secret Life Online: 7 Ways to Manage It as a Parent and 10 Steps to Set Your Kids Up with a Healthy Online/Offline Balance. Please let us know if you have additional questions. Take care.
  • Lisa Jean
    I am so glad that I got to your advise so quickly, we were in dire straits...I am an RN and my husband co-owns our company and our 15 year old was becoming more and more evasive. Your advise helped us so much, this is still evolving so IMore will make this short for now but THANK YOU for caring!
  • ScaredandPerplexed

    I have found your website to be very informative but I need some serious help. My 16 year old has run away. He has threatened it a few times and even gone so far as to leave the house without permission and go to a friend’s house overnight when he says he needs a break or has major anxiety. When he does this he makes sure to stress that he isn’t running away and he will be back the next day (which he always is, even if it is very close to 24 hours later). But this time is different. He had just gotten back to the house from one of his “breaks” and when we told him we needed to discuss his situation later he picked a fight with his step father and left. I don’t know what to do? I have reported him as a run away. I haven’t heard from him and that is very unlike him. He has been gone for 4 days now. He usually makes sure to at least have someone text me to let me know where he is. He doesn’t have a phone to contact me and I am very scared about where he is and what he’s doing. He hasn’t been to school and with spring break in a couple of days I’m sure that we won’t see him until after Spring Break.

    I’m at a loss for what to do. Do I go banging on doors and drag him home when I find him or do I let him come to his senses and want until he wants to come back home? Tough love or forced love? I’d hate to go get him and then he just runs again. I think he needs to figure this out so he doesn’t run again, but part of me feels like that’s not the answer.

    A few weeks ago he was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and possible bipolar. He took his medicine for a few days and then stopped. I am very worried that with his mental state and the fact that he is not at home things will get worse. I’m sure he is at some friend’s house but I don’t know who or where. I have called around to the friend’s that I know and no one has seen him (or admits to seeing him). HELP!!!! What do I do?

    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      I’m so sorry to hear about what you are going through right now with your son, and I’m glad that you’re here reaching out for support. Calling his friends and reporting him as a runaway are both effective steps that you can take at this point. You mightMore consider following up with both his friends and the police to see if they have any new information now that some time has passed. Another helpful resource for you might be the National Runaway Safeline, which you can reach at 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929). They have trained counselors who can talk with you about what’s going on, and help you make a plan. They also have options to connect via live chat, email and a forum, which you can find on their website. I can only imagine how scary and painful this must be for you right now, and I wish you all the best moving forward. Take care.
  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
    micham I understand your concern for your 10 year old, and the statements she has in her head telling her to run away.  I would not recommend taking this course of action to try to remedy this, as it could pose a safety risk to your daughter as well asMore raise potential legal issues for you.  Instead, I encourage you to work with local supports, such as a counselor or therapist, who can work directly with you and your daughter to help you devise a plan to keep her safe, as well as assist your daughter in learning healthy coping skills.  If you are not currently working with anyone, you might consider contacting the http://www.211.org at 1-800-273-6222.  211 is a service which connects people with local resources in their community.  I recognize that this is a challenging situation, and I wish you and your family all the best moving  forward.  Take care.
  • Mumof4boys
    Hi I'm after some advise my 16 year old son has a girlfriend who run away from home which my son stayed out with her cause she didn't want to go home I managed to get them back to my house after 4nights of staying out now last night sheMore as turned up at my house wanting to stay I said she cant stay unless her dad is ok with it which he was not happy with wanted her to walk home over 20miles on her own wouldn't pick her up I had no way of getting her home myself no buses no trains nothing after 11pm which she kept phoning her dad saying pick me up then plz and he would shout swear down phone at her to get home he didn't care how she did it just to do it he refused to talk to me even when I said look I've got 3 other kids woken up by all this which he said I don't give a f**k I just don't know what to do any advice please thank you
    • momma bear
      Speak to the dad and just let him know, if she doesn't have a ride home, she can't come over. Push it back on dad. That way you are communication with him and if no ride, she don't come. Boundries.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      Mumof4boys We appreciate you writing in to Empowering Parents and sharing your story.  I hear how concerned you are about your son’s girlfriend, and how her dad is responding to her actions. Because we are a website aimed at helping people become more effective parents, we are limited in theMore advice and suggestions we can give to those outside of a direct parenting role. It may be helpful to look into other resources to help you develop a plan for addressing your particular issues. Another service which you might find more helpful is the http://www.runawayhelpline.org.uk/.  This is a service which your son, his girlfriend or you could contact about what is going on right now for her at home, and help you look at options. You can call or text 24/7 at 116 000.. They also have options to talk via online chat and email, which you can see on their website. We understand how difficult this must be for you, your son, and his girlfriend and wish you the best going forward. Take care.
  • Confused and hurt

    Question. my almost 16 year old daughter just ran away 2 weeks ago. to her best friends house. the parents say she can stay as long as she wants. she doesnt have to come home. I have no say in the situation and they are demanding money…her child support. The police wont interfer cause she is almost 16. I am a single parent dealing with cancer for the past 6 years. yes we both have stress but I have always had open commuinication with my daughter. i know she is scared and angry andrefuses to go to coucelling cause it doesnt help. she is a smart kid. she wont talk to me or see me. she just texts when she wants some more of her stuff. im at a loss as to what to .do. is there anything I can do?.

    Confused and upset. s

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      Confused and hurt I’m so sorry to hear about the challenges you are facing with your daughter, in addition to your health issues.  I’m glad that you’re here reaching out for support.  It can be so difficult when the resources you try to use, such as the police, are notMore able to offer the assistance you are seeking.  Because the laws vary so much among communities, I am unsure about what your legal and financial obligations are in providing for your daughter’s needs since she is living outside of your home by choice.  You might consider consulting with a family lawyer who would be more familiar with local ordinances, and could give you information about options available to you.  If you are not currently working with anyone, try contacting the http://www.theislandhelpline.com/ at 1-800-218-2885.  This is a service which provides referrals to available resources in your community.  I can only imagine how difficult this must be for you right now, and I wish you all the best as you continue to move forward.  Take care.
  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


    We appreciate you writing in to Empowering Parents and

    sharing your story. I am sorry to hear about the struggles you have been facing

    over the past few years.Because we are

    a website aimed at helping people become more effective parents, we are limited

    in the advice and suggestions we can give to those outside of a direct

    parenting role.Another resource which

    might be more useful to you is the Boys Town National Hotline, which you can

    reach by calling 1-800-448-3000, 24/7. They have trained counselors who talk

    with kids, teens and young adults everyday about issues they are facing, and

    they can help you to look at your options and come up with a plan.They also have options to communicate via text,

    email, and live chat which you can find on their website, http://www.yourlifeyourvoice.org/ We wish you

    the best going forward. Take care.

  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

    Grandma Odie 

    You are very welcome, and thank you for providing this

    update.  I encourage you to use CPS as a resource for your family as you

    continue to move forward, as they might have additional information or local

    referrals to help keep your granddaughter safe.  I wish you all the

    best.  Take care.

  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

    Grandma Odie 

    It’s natural to be worried and concerned when your

    grandchild runs away from home, especially since she is so young. 

    Although you cannot stop her from running away, you might consider trying to

    teach her more appropriate coping skills she can use the next time her feelings

    are hurt, as pointed out in the article above.  Another resource you might

    consider is the http://www.1800runaway.org/,

    which you can call at 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929).  They are available 24/7

    to talk with you about additional options you might have if you are concerned

    that your granddaughter might try to run away again.  I recognize how

    scary this must have been for you, and I wish you all the best as you continue

    to move forward.  Take care.

  • Gum
    Good article, but you've left out a category -- kids who leave home without warning (no threats) just one time. And don't come back. I haven't been through any of this and have no clue what to do.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      I’m sorry to hear about your experiences, and it’s

      understandable that you might feel lost right now.  If you have not

      already done so, I encourage you to contact the police and report your child as

      missing.  You might also consider contacting the http://www.1800runaway.org/ at

      1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929) for more information on options available to

      you.  I can only imagine what you are going through right now, and I wish

      you all the best.  Take care.

  • casandra
    I been have issues wit my 13 year old daughter since her brother past almost 2years ago..she leaves befor I get off work an dont return till 9 pm ..I have tryed so much on here she dont care all she does is skip school starts fights an more..cant getMore any help wit her from no were...
  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


    We appreciate you writing in to Empowering Parents and

    sharing your story.  I hear how much you care about your sister, and want

    to help her right now. Because we are a website aimed at helping people become

    more effective parents, we are limited in the advice and suggestions we can

    give to those outside of a direct parenting role. It may be helpful to look into

    local resources to help you develop a plan for addressing your particular

    issues. The 211 National Helpline is a referral service available 24 hours a

    day, nationwide. They can give you information on the types of support services

    available in your area such as counselors, legal assistance, support

    groups/kinship services as well as various other resources. You can reach the

    Helpline by calling 1-800-273-6222 or by logging onto http://www.211.org/.  You might also consider

    contacting the http://www.1800runaway.org/ at 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929) for ideas about what you might be

    able to do in the meantime while your sister is living on the streets. We wish

    you the best going forward. Take care.

  • Ginajv
    Hi, I am going through some hard-core issues with 2 of my boys ages 16 and 17. My 16 year old just got out of probation, and as soon as he did he started to act weird, not wanting to go to school, getting out late at night, through hisMore bedroom window and I started to pick up a weird smell a friend of mine said it smelled like weed. I had a fit in was pissed I felt like i was losing my boy.... later my 17 year gets into bad trouble were i end up on shock he been arrested with position of drugs I now know i am not only losing 1 but 2, I just don't know what to do I tried to give them what they needed, I lost one of my boys to this county in the war of Iraq, but now I am losing 2 of them to this country's drugs and I don't know where to get help can someone help. Me?
    • Darlene EP


      First of all, I am so sorry for

      the loss of your oldest son. I can understand your worry for your 2 other sons.

      It sounds like they are making some poor choices, as many kids do at their

      ages. Kim Abraham, LMSW and Marney Studaker-Cordner, LMSW, wrote the article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-child-is-using-drugs-or-drinking-alcohol-what-should-i-do/  that I

      think you will find very helpful for your situation. They give tips for how to

      respond as effectively as possible when you know your child is abusing

      substances. We know this is a challenging issue to be addressing. We appreciate

      you reaching out to us. Let us know if we can answer any other questions. Take


  • JamieWilliams3
    What do you do when you have done all this and then some... My son is about to turn 16 and have been gone since November 21 2015...
  • Urmamawarndu
    My 15 yr old daughter is a pill lately. She is struggling with power and feels she needs to tell us how to discipline her. She ran out of the house all night now again and im losing my desire to keeping up this fight for structure and respect. IMore wanna do everything to help her but shes resorted to false reports to major people this is overwhelming and hurtful. Shes become such an angry pre adult making horrible decisions for herself i cant just let her go and i cant help her either im at a loss as to how i should move forward.
    • ElCooper
      Dotto. Great advice im SO hoping i can remember it and keep my calm when my inadequately equipped ms 15 finally decides to come home from her friends place - she's told the family (i don't know them) all sorts of awful lies (they won't let us see her!!) thisMore time she left because i told her to stop hurting her 6yr old sister.. feeling like a mum-failure and wondering where my AStudent high achieving and capable eldest daughter has gone.
  • fran walker
    This is very positive and I think empowering for the youth who even if home isn't perfect they have to contribute at their level and respectfully accept rules that are reasonable. When they become adults they will soon thank their parents for teaching them that we have tools to useMore when things are tough. The article says that this is not for abused children so I think it instills confidence in parents to be the teachers and guides and supportive role models that one day their own child will also emulate. Cheers , brilliant advice.
  • becky

    I highly disagree with this. While I acknowledge there are kids who do this for the reasons you state, there are also some that run away because of problems in the home or abuse. I wouldn't blame it all on the kid . Also stating that kids see running away as an "adventure" is clearly stereotyping there motives or reasons. Some teens know what they're going to face of they take that disicion.

    Most kids run away because they don't feel understood in their home or feel neglected .

    • MarnieGrundman

      @becky I agree with you 100%. Disclaimer or not there is a bias here that needs to be addressed here. Chronic runaways are not described accurately. Chronic runaways more often than not are experiencing some form of abuse or neglect in the home. *The stats are as follows: 46% of runways are physically abused, 38% are emotionally abused and 17% are sexually abused by either a relative or someone within the home. I was a chronic runway beginning at the age of 5. From the ages of 13 - 17 I was listed as a missing child. It is very important that when sharing why kids run and what we can do to help them we paint the ENTIRE picture. Kids who run are a FAMILY problem it's not the child who is the problem. It must be dealt with as a unit, everyone's behaviour needs to be addressed. P.S. In addition to being an advocate for runaways and homeless youth, I am a mother of 3 grown children who never ran way from home. 


      Marnie Grundman 

      *These stats were gathered by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

      • Boymomteacher00
        My child is 17. He’s not abused or neglected. He runs away to be with his girlfriend. She encourages him to skip school and now she has decided to get pregnant.... he has no job and she told him school is childish and being responsible is childish. I know theyMore are using. When he doesn’t do what she wants she threatens to kill herself. My son is being influenced by her and I feel helpless. It has nothing to do with abuse or neglect. I think the stats are skewed in that respect. Lots of parents don’t report those types of run aways
    • Momofsons
      Kids feeling neglected or misunderstood, may be the reason to run, but a parent can't change what they believe is true, then what does the parent do?
      • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


        You ask a great question.  You are correct that often

        kids view a situation in a certain way, and parents do not have a lot of

        control over their child’s perspective of a certain issue.  As James

        points out in the article above, the most effective strategy is not trying to

        change your child’s opinion or make them view a situation in another perspective. 

        Instead, it tends to be more useful to focus on helping your child build https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/the-surprising-reason-for-bad-child-behavior-i-cant-solve-problems/ and coping strategies that are going to be more beneficial than

        running away from their problems.  Thank you for writing in; take care.

    • Irishman2016

      Totally agree with this. Here's my post on the subject:

      What about the fact that the majority of children who run away do so because of varying types of abuse? This didn't seem to even be considered when this article was written. Hi, juvenile delinquency college student here. I just think the entire framework of this article is somewhat skewed and written from a prism perspective. Child abuse is rampant in this country, and the fact of the matter is, many children use drugs or run away from home because of some type of abuse that is happening in the home. And of course most parents think they are good parents, or in other words abusive people wouldn't necessarily think they ARE abusive so in conclusion this issue is far wider more complicated and intricate than your annoying child simply deciding to run away because he doesn't like the rules of a parents home. Not everyone grew up with good parents and not everyone leaves home at a young age for a bad or invalid reason. So yea people, just take that into consideration when reading this article, which mostly has good points but in my opinion fails to properly illuminate or illustrate the number one reason children run away

      • MomInPain

        To the stat quoters: Are these proven cases of abuse? Or accusations? Because including all in the stats would give a false impression of the actual situation.

        My 16yr old son ran away without warning last year and is making claims of abuse that get wilder as the months go by. He is housed in a place where kids get everything they want free with no proof of anything required and no expectation that to get good grades in school, or to work, or to get counseling or anything else healthy for him.

        There are no rules or consequences and since being there he gets drunk with the "older kids" (up to age 22) in the house and does drugs with the dealers living there and plays video games or watches TV in this nice new construction home or stays up all night on his free new phone with free wifi which makes him too tired to go to school every day. Often he cuts himself with little scratches in lines across his lower wrist then wields them as "proof" of his pain. And still, no requirement for him to go to counseling. Even in relationships with his "new family" as he calls them, as soon as there is work involved in maintaining a relationship he bails on it. He is clearly struggling with issues but there is no requirement to diagnose or deal with these issues in order to live in this rule free house. He being given the freedom and the tools to throw his life away. In fact, no social worker will open a case for him because he has no real cause for it. Yet this "organization" who is housing my non-citizen child with no paperwork, keeps applying for new workers every time he is denied. In 10 months he will be 18 and probably be deported with no skills, education etc instead of the computer networking degree we were working toward with him. So this "safe haven" is actually not maintaining his best interests at heart. They just want the money. Look up Pleasure Island in pinnochio..Basically that's where he lives now.

        So yes, some kids live trapped in abusive situations with people who may not realize how harsh they are being.. and those kids run away as a last resort.

        But lots of kids are mentally ill or purely rebellious and being empowered to be that way. This article is for those of us dealing with the latter. Most of us for the first time. I for one appreciate the insight. It supports everything the police and social workers have said to us.. "Dont give in, dont give him money or anything. He is a child acting out and needs to realize that you will not make this easy for him to do and that when he comes home there will be consequences to deal with."

        As parents who love their children, we don't know what to do. Our emotions are running high as the most precious parts of our lives are in very real danger and yet we have to somehow be rational and level headed and not take it personally and not sink under the pain and fear and anger at what is going on. It's hard to do when your child is so close to an adult but still so mentally unequipped to deal with the path they are choosing.

        This is so different from runaways due to true abuse. This is either sick or entitled children who themselves have become abusive. And feel justified in doing so. This is who the article is about...

        I am who it is written for. I and all the others like me.

    • laurabasslovesroger
      I'm sure you read in the beginning that it doesn't apply to children being abused. I have a child with ADHD and odd and he is running away and threats. He has no care of others and the way what he does affects others. He just want power in ourMore house which is a problem because it the parent that should have power in their home.
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