Understanding The Reasons Teens Run Away
Every child does it at one time or another. They feel that the rules at home are getting too restrictive and they say that they are planning to run away. This can happen as young as two, or when the child is on the brink of adulthood, but the reality is still a little painful for the parents. Generally, the child does not feel that s/he is being heard and thus they need to form their own reality so that they can feel secure and independent. This stage (and it can happen multiple times through the child's young life) needs to be addressed before the child becomes a statistic.Runaway kids have been a reality in societies since children were first conceived. There are myriad issues surrounding this fact; here we will discuss just a few. Recent estimates state that approximately 1.5 million children "run away" from their homes each year. This statistic is misleading because some of these kids are forced to leave by misguided or cruel guardians. Therefore, because of under reporting and, sometimes, a failure to report, the above figure is only a very shaky guesstimate.
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.