by At-Risk.org Staff
It may be hard for a parent to understand why teens run away, so here is a few reasons that may help you to understand. The teen may feel like they have to escape and get away from home to avoid something bad from happening. For example, maybe you have been fighting a lot and they feel they just can’t go through it again. They may be afraid you will be mad at them for something they did wrong or rules they disobeyed, or they may feel like you won’t forgive them so they have to leave.
A teen may be afraid that something bad might happen if they don’t leave home; this could be a child living with a step-parent that they fight a lot with, this step-parent may make them feel like everyone would be happier without them. It is possible that the teen just feel like you don’t understand them, and they runaway to be with others that will let them be themselves, whether it is right or wrong. Most teens don’t even realize and understanding the consequences of this type of action, they act without thinking first. A teen may runway to meet someone you told them to stay away from; perhaps they think they love each other and runaway together. Sometimes just plain being lonely and begging for attention will cause a teenager to runaway.
Signs to look for
Even though you could never really know for sure what a teenager may be thinking, there are signs that you can look for that can help alert you to possible problems. One thing to look for is, do you ever agree on anything, or does it seem you only argue and fuss all the time. Is your teen acting withdrawn and completely unsociable, do they never want to spend any time with the rest of the family? Does your teen act strange, or have extremely emotional feelings that are out of control? Has your teen been hanging out with bad company, others who drink alcohol, use drugs, or other teens that just go out to look for trouble? If you notice these signs it would be wise to try and communicate with your teen, even if you have to get outside help to do so.
Preventing teen runaways
Unfortunately we can’t completely prevent teens from running away, but here are a few suggestions that may help. Try showing your teen respect and keep communication open, listening to what they have to say. Don’t scream and yell, or threaten your teen, this will only make them want to leave more. Try not to interrupt your teenager when they do come to you to talk, sometimes it helps the most to just listen. If you don’t agree with your child at least listen to their side, then calmly give your side, if things start to get out of control, take a break. If you feel your child may runaway you can seek professional help with counseling, or just try talking to them and explain how much you love them, and that you will always be there for them.