Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What To Do When Your Teenager Runs Away (Part One)

Startling title, I know.  Those who know me very well know I have a good sense of humor, but I'm definitely not a practical joker; unfortunately this is being written from raw experience and I wish it were a bad joke.

Why does a 16 year-old (now 17) run away (twice) from a perfectly good, loving home?  That is the question.

Hopefully the phrase is "if" rather than "when" your child runs away, but if it does happen, call the police first.  Every parent wants to ensure their child is safe whether they're on Mars or at your residence.

At the time of this writing, there are only 8 states in the U.S. where running away is illegal: Georgia, Idaho, Nebraska, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Our local police force, detective, and school administration have done an outstanding job in assisting our family, which we greatly appreciate.

In Maine, (where running away is not illegal) parents are severely limited legally when your child is 16 or under.  From 17 on, your child can willingly live freely at another family's house without your permission - which is what's happening in our case.  Our child belongs here, not at your house!  Parents don't spend years raising their kids for them to vanish (because they (the kids) feel we are too strict) and take up residence elsewhere.

For those that are curious, here are the rules at our house:  for full privileges you must maintain a C- or above in every subject, be well-mannered, respectful, and a team player.  Being on time is a core value taught in our family, it's a matter of respect and definitely beneficial in the real world.

In summary, get the police involved as soon as you know your child has runaway.  In most cases it will not be illegal, but your local authorities will guide you through this painful process.

Your comments and questions are most welcome.

Part two coming soon...