What To Do When Your Child Returns Home After Running Away
Having your child return home after being gone can be traumatic for both of you. Even if he was staying with friends or relatives, the time away was undoubtedly filled with anxiety. If he was out on the streets, it was probably terrifying for you both. This is a time for mixed emotions. In between hugging him for returning safely, you want to ground him for the rest of his natural life! Now the real work begins. Both of you have to deal with the problems that made him run away and how to make sure that it does not happen again. That will take hard work on both of your parts. It will take listening and compromise and communication. But most of all it will take time to learn to respect and trust each other again. Here are a few steps you can take to help make the transition easier.
Be happy he returned home. While you may be understandably very upset with him, let your first words be calm and welcoming. Many teens stay away from home because they are afraid of the initial confrontation with their parents when they return. Take a very long, deep breath and tell him that you are relieved to have him home.
Allow time to settle in. Most runaways have not had the luxury of consistent access to food or shelter while they were on the run. Perhaps she needs a shower, a meal, a clean set of clothes or a good night sleep on her own bed.
Get medical attention, if necessary. A visit to your family doctor might be in order.
Talk with your teen. Concentrate on how you can work together to prevent any repeat running away behavior. Acknowledge that some problems take a lot of time and effort to improve. Make a commitment to finding a safe and reasonable resolution to the current problems and situations.
Make follow up phone calls to anyone you contacted while he was on the run.
Let friends and family know that he has returned home. Call the police to let them know that he is no longer missing.
Look for assistance. There are people and places in your community that can help your family. Counseling is helpful to everyone. Asking for help is a sign of strength and shows that you are taking the issues seriously.
Reprinted with the permission of the National Runaway Switchboard.
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