The Reasons Kids Decide to Run Away
- Runaway kids may leave because there is a perceived lack of communication in the home.
- The child is growing and paying more attention to what their peers say than their parents, and they often want to leave what they believe are overly restrictive rules.
- Sexual abuse by a trusted relative; not being believed when it's reported.
- Physical abuse by a trusted relative; not feeling there is anyone they can turn to for help or relief.
- Step parent involvement without trust being established.
- Drug and alcohol use by parents can also cause a child to want to leave.
- Lack of understanding or support during a crucial period (like a teen pregnancy or a failed romantic relationship) a teen may run away.
- Drug and alcohol use by the teen and his or her peers.
- A large number of teens are influenced by their peers or through gang involvement that they need to flee the situation that they are in.
Communication: A Point of Departure
The most important construct in any relationship is open lines of communication. When an individual reaches the teenage years this becomes more difficult because peer relationships become much more important than familial bonds. Thus, a child is much more likely to communicate with their friends than their parents.
Listening: The Usual Missing Ingredient
The only thing that a parent can do in this case is to make sure that they are actively listening to their teen and not trying to understand situations based on their own bias. Besides open communication an older child needs to be allowed to be heard and included in "discussions". Too often parents give their opinion and state their expectations. Little by way of communication is accomplished. This means that when stressful events occur (death, divorce, financial difficulties), the teen needs to be a part of the discussion.
Counseling: A Guide to Learning Good Communication Skills Before It's Too Late
Counseling for both the child and the parent(s) with an unbiased third party is usually a good idea. But the committment must exist with both parties in order to accomplish goals.