What would you do if your child ran away and got married?

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What if you child did ran away and got married? she's only 18, inexperienced to be outside while he's 24 and possessive? How can we help her realize the mistake she just made and to help her return home to finish her education and prepare for a better future? any suggestions? (it's been a month). I'm desperate.
In Topics: Teen sexuality and dating
> 60 days ago



Wayne Yankus
Aug 1, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

At 18 in the eyes of the law she is an adult, and by virtue of marriage she is emancipated.  That does not mean she is mature.

The question is: What was she running away from?

My suggestion is to seek family counselling.  First, go yourselves to evaluate the problem and develop strategies that might engage her in conversation with you.  Her education is very important and there are options (GED etc) but I would plan that discussion carefully.  Right now she does not obviously place value on education as you do.  Start by reaching out. Just start listening--not talking.  Don't take a stand, hear her side.  Offer, don't demand.  There is now another person who is legally responsible for her and is her "next of kin".  Include her partner.

I wish you more than luck, I wish you strength in your personal family work. It is going to be a journey.

Finally, consult an attorney.  Be sure this marriage was voluntary and the relationship is not abusive.  Check your legal options as her parent.

Wayne Yankus, MD, FAAP
expert panelist: pediatrics

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Additional Answers (2)

LouiseSattler , Child Professional writes:
Hello,  I can feel your pain in your question.  As a parent of older teens I know this is near my top of the list of "greatest fears" because you have been this person's support and sole provider and now you are an "outsider".  I agree that counseling for your family is warranted.  If nothing else to give you and your family members a way to vent and not strike blame.  If nothing else, go yourself.  You are grieving.  You have experienced a tremendous loss and shock at a time when your daughter wants you to show loads of approval for her "grown" up decision.

Second, try to bring this couple closer than further away.  Be supportive without supporting them fully.  Invite them for dinners, bring over prepared meals, help show her how to care for the house. Give her some used furniture or a tv set to help them "start" on their way.

Also, the more you get to know her husband and he comes to trust you and your family the easier it will be for your daughter.  He may have some positive qualities that you don't quite see yet and getting to know him and his family better help all of you.  See what are his interests and try to become involved. Perhaps he loves baseball and all of you can take in baseball games together from time to time.  Also, if he likes you then you can have alone time with your daughter and listen to her in times of need (or joy).  Baby steps to help your relationship will be needed over a period of time.

Help her to stay healthy.  She may need to consult with a doctor about issues regarding her personal health and methods of birth control.  Also, she is at an age when booster vaccines are given for a variety of illnesses, and she may need to ask a doctor if she should receive these at this time. Also, establishing a relationship with a health care professional will give her someone to help her if she should encounter a personal crisis.

As for her education, you may need to let her know about her options, but then it is up to her to make choices. However, please don't shut her out. Sometimes older teens think they are adults and will be impulsive when a notion seems so romantic or exciting.  However, reality is bound to set in sooner than later and she will need you then more than ever.

Good luck and please let us know about your family.  


Louise Masin Sattler, NCSP
Nationally Certified School Psychologist
Owner of Signing Families
> 60 days ago

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Loddie1 , Parent writes:
Unfortunately, all you can do is try to be there for her in any capacity. Experience is the only teacher to really make her understand. Sometimes people change for the better too. So maybe having a more optimistic outlook would be better mentally for both of you. She is now considered an "adult" and that is also a hard thing to grasp. Here you have raised this child and watched her grow up only wanting the best for her. What she has planned for her life is now different than what you want and had planned. I hope you can realize that she needs this time to learn on her own. So let her. As hard as it will be and is, she will eventually come around to what you have taught her. Good Luck
> 60 days ago

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