24 answers

17 Year Old "Step" Son Wants to Run Away

My boyfriend and I are struggling with his son. HE will graduate this year but won't be 18 till this fall. He doesn't know what he wants to do for a career, doesn't have a job, doesn't want to go into the military. Every thing either of us says to him about any thing, or even to do chores around the house turns into this huge battle with him saying he wants to leave and cant wait to move out of this F$@%^##ng house. He has all his things packed in his room....what do we do????

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Well, thank youall for thee wonderful and helpful advise. We have alot of food for thought. I share all of yur input with my boyfriend as well. I don't know that it has helped our teen, but it has helped us immensly. We are more calm and have stopped telling him that he CAN'T leave, because he can. We have also stopped engaging him in his temper tantrums that he deliberatle has to keep fights going in hopes of an excuse to leave or get thrown out. We have taken away our computer, our vehicles, our phones. Any thing he needs to do has to be done from school, hopefully that will encourage to keep going and graduate if he does move out before that time. His things that he THINKS are his belong to his dad and I, if he goes he gets his toothbrush and the clothes on his back. He doesn't seem to be in as big of a hurry to leave knowing he has nothing and needs all of it to survive. He is looking for a job in the paper because it is free. Everything else costs money, which he doesn't have. We keep our fingers crossed. Again thank to all of you. S. R.

Featured Answers

One-on-one and family counseling worked great for me and my folks when I was that age. It was a battle to get me to go at first, but when I realized I could scream at my father and he couldn't tell me to be quiet or interrupt me, it was fantastic. It broke down a lot of barriers in my family and I strongly recommend it.

HI S.-
My girlfriend had this happen with her daughter.
Sometimes tough love is hard. They let her go and also- cut off her funds for support. They told her if she wanted to be on her own- she would have to be- they loved her but didn't agree with her decision and so therefore don't feel obligated to support her financially.
She's struggling- and it's still a struggle for my girlfriend- but the choice was made and now she's of age and still on her own.
Good luck- me- 47yo mom of 6yo twins.
B. J

Perhaps you could help him to move to his next stage in life. I have seen parents have success by helping their 16/17 years olds look for an apartment and find a job. Once they realize the extent of their responsibilities if they move out, they either rise to the occasion or calm down at home.

Without threatening, let him know that you can tell he needs to get on with his life away from parents. How can you help? Tell him what you are willing to do to help him so that he has the best chance for success. Give him some start-up money so that he can make a down-payment on an apartment.

17 is really ready for something new. Embrace this on his behalf. He will come home often and be glad you are there when he knows how much you support him.

More Answers

We had a son like this. One day his friends were at our house and he called me a name. He did runaway to a friends once and we had him brought back. The day he called me a name I kicked him out in front of his friends. They couldn't believe how he was at home. I called all of his friends parents and told them that he was not to stay with them and not work. Well, it wasn't long before he wanted to come back. Life wasn't so easy 'on the outside'.
Sit down with him and ask him what he would do if he moves out. Try to explain to him that it will cost money to live and if he doesn't start thinking about that, he will be in trouble. We used tough love with our son. I thought he would never come around to be the great kid he was meant to be. Lo and behold he did and now has a son of his own and let's just say he now has his handsful with him. He is 32 now. Hang in there, I know those are easy words to say. If you would like to talk sometime or maybe our son could talk to your son; please give me a call. ###-###-####


1 mom found this helpful

Make a list of all the things he will need to be able to move out and live on his own, dishes (pots, pans, plates, silverware....), furniture (bed, couch...), electronics (tv, stereo, dvd player...),deposits (rental, utility), etc. Let him know that he can move out after high school, but until then, IF he is serious about moving out, he needs to find a way to provide these things for his new place BY HIMSELF (in other words, he will have to get a job!). Set aside a place for him to store things, perhaps even help him shop....show him what the prices are, the less expensive places to buy things, etc. Let him know that you are mentally and emotionally supportive of his choice to move out but won't be financially supportive. He will have to realize on his own that he won't be able to live on his own without a means of financial support...a job. Does he get an allowance? If so, make it dependant on the chores he does. My kids don't get paid if they don't do the work because that's how it is in the real world.

1 mom found this helpful

Rachael B gave you some good advice on letting him fall... but before you do, make sure he is 18 and legally able to be on his own or his father might be held responsible if anything happened to him on his own.

I know that age well... teenage years are the worse. They think they are grown up but they don't realize that being grown up is by being responsible, more then age. You might sit down with your step son and tell him when he graduates he may move out, if he has a plan on how to support himself, a place he is paying to live, no bumming off friends, and ask him how he is going to clean and cook and do his laundry if he isn't willing to learn it at home before moving out. If he is reasonable at all he would see the truth in that... but he is 17 and reason doesn't fit into the picture. My son moved out as soon as he was 18. When he had to pay his way, his tune changed big time.

Now for my philosphy on teen years... Aliens clone our good children and take them, leaving us with this undesirable clone! They keep them a few years and then return them to us.

Words to remember... This too shall pass! Before you know it he will be working hard, living on his own, getting married and having kids in which he will say to you "I can't believe he thought he could get away with that! Doesn't kids have any brains these days??!!" With that you just smile and say "Yes, I know, I had a 17 year old boy at one time"

Good luck and remember even the animals have trouble with their grown sons... fighting dad for the top place in the herd.

I was kind of like that at that age. I also graduated at 17. There were "reasons", but partly my just being a know it all 17 year old. My parents were divorced, I lived with my mom. My dad offered to buy me a car ($200) and get me a full time job to pay for it as well as my own gas and insurance. So it was the freedom I wanted but with the lessons of learning how to work for it. If I didn't work I didn't have a car, just like big people! I learned how difficult it was not only to hold a full time job but check the oil once in a while! It really was agreat dose of reality!

It sounds like your step son in hurting and angry about something. He choosen to lash out at the both of you with his behavior. My husband and I had many similar incidents with our 18 year old daughter. She would bottle her emotions up until we said something to her. This would be the match to the fuse. She would explode, there was crying yelling, cursing then the comunnication would start. We basically told her we love you no matter what. You will not treat us with disrespect. We can help you. We never threatened her. We showed all three of our kids unconditional love and help them accountable for their behavior and decisions. S. I would try to get him to talk. Not to his friends but to you or his father or another adult that he trust and you trust.

everyone (baring sever mental disabilities) must grow up and leave home sometime. next time he is on an emotional rampage of I can't wait to leave this F ing house and the like, let him know that those feelings are normal and healthy, he should want to be on his own, but how are you going to pay for a place to live and how are you going to keep it clean, etc? He needs to learn that responsibility some time and that time might as well be now so it's easier on him when that time comes. Let him know that you are only wanting what is best for him and you want him to be happy in his life and for that to happen you need to make sure that he is prepared to live in the world on his own.
Maybe give him some insight into how much it costs to live on your own. show him how much your bill are and how much is spent on groceries and how much it costs to put gas in your car... your regular everyday kinds of expenses.

When I got out on my own it wasn't a total shocker to me that living on my own was expensive, but I wasn't totally prepared for it since my parents never talked to me about those kind of things and I kind of feel it was an injustice to me to be finding it all out once I was out there. That's why now, with my own kids ~ my oldest is 13~ I tell them that I love them and wish they could be with me everyday for the rest of our lives, but I want them to have a life of their own. I want them to get out of here and learn and experience as much as they can and that is why I want them to do chores and homework, etc. so they will be ready to go when they are old enough.

as for his attitude about not being able to wait until he can leave, I think it is very normal and a vast majority of teens are like that. Just try to stay emotionally supportive. easier said than done on the rough days.

Hi S.,

It seems dramatic, but your stepson really needs someone to listen. This drama may be his way of getting some attention or just a release of his frustration as a young adult with no obvious path. The tough part is that as a teen he's in need of guidance, yet he is old enough practically to be on his own. One of many ideas would be for your significant other to make an appointment with him to visit the guidance counselor at school. Having a third party offer options and SUPPORT for your stepson is a first step toward allowing 'the village' to raise the child.

And, in a way, your stepson may be wanting to know that he's capable of making his own way in the world. some ideas are to list a few of his interests and research a mentor for him. tell him you'll help him - knowing that it's his decision to make the commitment to follow through. Even taking a community college course in the summer may help his sense of being a decision-maker and becoming an adult. This isn't an easy time for your family, yet it's very important to know the normal tug of the teenager toward independence.

Best wishes - K. C
P.S. Also see innerreview.com


You have a power struggle on your hands. He is angry, which is typical of some teens. If he has his bags packed, does he know where he is going. Sometimes it is best to let them go.

However, I would recommend having him see a counselor who specializes in adolescents. He may not want to go, but the counselor may be able to give you some tips.

Good luck!

L. :)

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