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My Daughter Ran Away from Home!

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Guest blogger Kourtney: My 10-year-old daughter threatens to run away weekly. Anytime we make her upset, she says she hates us, stomps off, slams her door and yells from her bedroom that she's running away. My husband and I roll our eyes; she's cried wolf enough times for us to know they're just words. The last time she threatened to run away was last night (after we took away her phone privileges for a week), and I was so irritated I called out to her, "We'll miss you!" Now I wish I hadn't said that, because it was like a dare. And my daughter, being especially stubborn, doesn't shy away from challenges.

Girl carrying bag
I paced around, thinking how her teen years were going to kill me. But then I cooled off, as I knew she eventually would, and decided I'd go and make peace. Except that she wasn't in her room. My husband hadn't seen her; he'd thought she was in her room, too. We called out her name and looked everywhere -- closets, basement, garage, even the roof! -- and when we couldn't find her, we thought, "OK, what if ...?"  

I checked her piggy bank: full. I checked her closet: no clothes missing, as far as I could tell. It appeared that she had left with whatever she had on. Then I noticed that her pillow was missing, and her stuffed lemur, Jumper. Seriously? How far did she think she'd get with no money and no clothes? 

We called her best friend, and then we called more of her friends. When none of them had seen her, we became panicky. My husband drove up and down the streets around and through our neighborhood, but there was no sign of her. Just as we were about to call the police, there was a knock at our door (oh my god, how my heart pounded with that knock!). It was our neighbor, Peter. "I think you should see something," he said, and we knew by the expression on his face that he knew where she was, and that she was OK. 

He led us through his front door and into his kitchen. He turned out the lights and pointed out the window into his backyard. There, sticking out of his doghouse, were my kid's legs. Peter had heard something out back and had thought it was a raccoon, but when he looked outside, he'd seen my daughter crawling into the doghouse with her pillow. We decided to let her stay where she was. Peter promised to keep an eye on her, and to call us if she left. 

I laid in bed last night, relieved, but also thinking that a doghouse was a funny choice -- because she was in one in both literally and figuratively. She finally skulked back home this morning in time to get ready for school, but we didn't speak. Peter called as she was walking home and said that he'd covered her with a blanket around 11 PM, and that he'd heard a soft "Thanks, Pete" from inside. At least she'd retained some modicum of civility. 

Whatever message she was meaning to send by "running away," I don't know how to feel about it -- aside from being both angry and relieved at the same time. I'm the parent, and I can't let a 10-year-old get the upper hand in the house. But then, I can't have her thinking that running away is the right solution whenever she doesn't get her way ....

Moms, has this ever happened to any of you? How in the world did you handle it?!

next: Do You Ever Feel Like Your Husband's Mom?
9 comments so far | Post a comment now
Sue October 13, 2010, 9:31 AM

First of all what is a 10 year old doing with a cell phone??? I believe now a days we give our children too much freedom and choices. That little girl really needs to be put in her place she is a little girl not a teenager. She needs to be told that she can stay in the dog house, unless she learns to respect her parents. Phone or no phone mom and dad give her a warm place to sleep, I’m sure plenty of food to eat and a great education… Our children now are ungrateful little snobs and unless we turn back the clock and relive the norms and morals of yesterday, tomorrow will not be her neighbors yard but her boyfriends house or worse.

Anonymous October 13, 2010, 11:00 AM

I think you handled it well and I don’t think you need to punish her. She has discovered that running away is no bed of roses.

KS October 13, 2010, 11:09 AM

I am not going to sit here and be all high and mighty but we would not be making the same parenting choices as you.

If our child did not want to be a respectful member of our family they would be sitting in a stripped down room without a door and no privileges that includes extra curricular activities. They would not attend any family functions or fun outings. We would arrange for a sitter to come to the house on the weekends when we all went on our family fun days.

It may also sound extreme but having the sorts of friends we do they would also get a good taste of what an actual run away experiences. We would have called in a favor and had our little offending child marched through juvie and sat in a cell overnight (off the books). This is not behavior we would tolerate and we would be bringing down what my husband and I lovingly refer to as the hammer fist.

Been there October 13, 2010, 12:31 PM

I was once the run away, I was, however, 14 and it wasn’t over lost phone priviledges. As someone who has been in this situation, as well as someone who came from a home where no one seemed to care what impact life had on me, I would say having a frank talk with your daughter, even at 10, about how she feels, how your actions and discipline effect her, and how she interprets them might go a long way. It seems that these days, as spoiled and entitled as kids seem to be a feel, they aren’t being listened to anymore than they had been when the mantra was ‘children should be seen and not heard’. I’m not saying cave to the kid, by all means, make your decision and stand your ground, but stop for a minute and find out what life and all it’s factors are doing to your child emotionally and psychologically.

REALMOM October 13, 2010, 2:09 PM

I think you guys should really talk to her about how good she has it. I would agree with the other poster who would call in a favor to juvenile. I have a 12 year old son who had a fough last year because he was put into a AP class and had to leave all of his friends. I had to explain to him about how life is and isn’t. My parents do alot of community work and i had them take him with them. I showed him the real world and talked with him about choices and let him know that me and dad love him more than anyone else and we only want the best for him even if it doesn’t feel like it at times. Giving your daughter some tough love will definately help out too!

Anne November 24, 2010, 10:55 AM

Honestly, I think the “Been There” post is very important. When I was reading your story about your daughter running away, it just seemed to me that she is angry. And if she is feeling anger, it doesn’t seem like she is expressing it in a healthy way, or she doesn’t think anyone will listen to her. It sounds like, along with the discipline you are giving her, that she needs a good dose of mom and daughter time, and feeling loved.

Tasha November 26, 2010, 5:09 AM

At 10 her Hormones might be starting & I know -w- 1 of my son’s it was like 1 day was the sweet,kind,loving & the next a kid I didn’t know & I wanted to Smack,If she were My daughter I’d take her away from the house maybe out for ice cream,lunch,ride & have a talk -w- her see if she will talk about things that might be bothering her,problems at School,ect,my son will talk about all kinds of stuff when we are away from home esp in car & I’ve allway’s let him know he can tell me anything & it works for us..Kids can & will push our buttons just like many of us did to our parents,there Hormones get crazy,there body’s are changing,peer pressure,ect & I think some parents take it too personal when I don’t think they should,I try to not argue or add to a tense moment to wait till latter to talk,for some kids a few day’s seems like Years to them & try to really Hear them when they are telling you something Over & Over they might mean what they say & try to Ride the wave it should pass yelling & screaming Isn’t likley gonna help,let them know you Love them & try to be there for them.
I knew a boy who got so angry that his parents took his driving privileges away & he ended up hanging himself & died all over being angry he couldn’t drive he was just 16-17 years old,I knew him & I never felt like he would do such a thing,I think that can show how a teens mind can take something minor yet to them it’s HUGE & make a choice that would ultimately hurt them even more than the punishment & if was more like I’ll show my parents how MAD I am thinking I’m sure they found out but he would never see or know how many other ppl who were hurting & Loved him..
Teen years will pass & maybe if we try & remember how it was when we went & multiply it that’s what our kids go through,I never heard about Gangs,Guns,or much of what kids these day’s & ad that to most kids live -w- 1 parent who likley is only breadwinner working many hours & tired and how easy it is to become disconnected esp -w- internet,games & then there are kids who are trying to raise themselves when the parent is working & it’s sad but some family’s have Lil choice & we need to make time to let our kids know we Love them Every Day & keep them at all cost away from the Streets…
I hope this will help someone & I wish Everyone Happy Holiday’s…

Mekalia December 7, 2010, 1:33 PM

Alright, she has learned her lesson but sit with her and talk to her about why she feels she must run away to get understood. maybe enought attenciton isn’t given to her

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